On June 16, a groundbreaking ceremony took place at the 312-acre Sebonack Golf Club. The timing could not have been better, as the 2004 U.S. Open was set to commence next door at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. The National Golf Links of America will border the north perimeter of Sebonack, with Shinnecock located directly to the southeast, making this trio arguably the three best abutting courses in the world. Some have speculated that Sebonack will even surpass its venerable neighbors—if that's possible. The course will be the first collaboration between designers Jack Nicklaus and Tom Doak. There will also be a clubhouse designed by Hart-Howerton, who did the splendid one at the nearby Atlantic Golf Club.
The inaugural Italian-American Heritage Celebrity Golf Classic will take place on August 2 at Riviera Country Club in California. Sylvester Stallone, Ray Romano, Joe Mantegna, Jimmy Kimmel, Ed Marinaro and Gary Sinise have signed on to play at the home of the Tour's Nissan Open. Foursomes start at $10,000; contact Steve DiMarco with Golf on Earth Event Services at 818-594-7277. . . . Members at Reynolds Plantation (reynoldsplantation.com) will soon add a fifth course to their rotation. After deliberating for months among several architects, including Davis Love III and Arnold Palmer, the private golf community in Greensboro, Georgia, has awarded Jim Engh the contract for the new design. The course, which is expected to open in late 2006, will join other layouts by Bob Cupp, Jack Nicklaus, Rees Jones and Tom Fazio.
A survey by the Golf Research Group cites a 119 percent rise in new golf club initiation fees from 1997 ($8,459) to 2003 ($18,600). This may shock those following the countless reports of private clubs experiencing severe droughts in new membership: The Wall Street Journal reported in April that "waiting lists to join all but the most exclusive country clubs have evaporated," replaced by "waiting lists to get out." The Golf Research Group notes that while initiations will most likely drop in time, the private course built today is of a higher quality and therefore more costly.
Though rumors abound that golf will one day again be an Olympic sport, 2004 marks the one hundreth year since the last time the sport was officially included in the Games. And the club that held those matches in 1904—Glen Echo Country Club in St. Louis—is marking the occasion by hosting a three-day Olympic Centennial Celebration this September. A century ago, more than one hundred players from twenty-one states and Canada (the Royal and Ancient Golf Club was excluded from Olympic preparations and so declined to send any players) vied in both match-play and stroke events; a Canadian took the match play and a team of Americans from the Western Golf Association captured the gold in stroke competition. This year, Glen Echo is inviting only clubs that existed back in 1904 to send two-man teams for a match-play event. So far about sixteen clubs have filled the twenty-eight available spots, including the Lambton Club of Toronto and the Algonquin Golf Club of Missouri. For more information contact Nash Haxel at 314-382-5780.
• Mission Hills Country Club (courses by Desmond Muirhead, 1970; Pete Dye, 1981; Arnold Palmer, 1975), Rancho Mirage, CA; 760-324-9400; by invitation only.
• Southern Trace Country Club (Arthur Hills, 1986), Shreveport, LA; 318-798- 8300; by invitation only.