(Related: America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses)
That one word accurately summarizes Sebonack Golf Club, host of the 2013 U.S. Women's Open. Located in Southampton, between Shinnecock Hills Golf Course and National Golf Links of America, the Jack Nicklaus/Tom Doak design could not have been built in a better setting. Rolling terrain and views of the Bay and Cold Spring Pond make missing fairways and quadruple-breaking putts perfectly okay.
But the stunning golf course didn't steal the spotlight on June 27th. One hundred and eight amateurs joined 27 LPGA Tour players, including Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lincicome and Hall of Famers Nancy Lopez and Karrie Webb, to rally against breast cancer at the 12th-annual LIFE (LPGA Pros in the Fight to Eradicate Breast Cancer) Event. Founded by Val Skinner, a Golf Channel analyst and 10-time winner on the LPGA Tour, the fundraiser has become one of the most prominent charity events in women's golf. It honors all young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, but revolves around the inspiring story of Heather Farr, Skinner's friend and fellow LPGA player, who died of disease in 1993 at the premature age of 28.
An emotional luncheon in Sebonack's two-story clubhouse included a video tribute to young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, along with speeches from three women who have recently survived the deadly condition: Jennifer Griffin, a national security correspondent for Fox News Channel, was diagnosed with stage 3 Triple Negative breast cancer while nursing her new baby; Jamie Ledezma underwent chemotherapy while 15 weeks pregnant (she eventually delivered a healthy boy, then endured four additional rounds and a bilateral mastectomy that left her cancer-free); and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz underwent seven surgeries related to breast cancer in 2008 while fulfilling her responsibilities as a member of the House.
"All of us have been impacted by breast cancer in some way," said Karrie Webb, who has played in 11 of the 12 LIFE Events. "For those of us who have played in Val's event year-after-year, it's fulfilling to see the impact we've been able to make through programs with Komen and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey."
Tears of sadness turned to tears of joy when Skinner presented checks of $250,000 each to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and to the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. (Since 2000, Skinner has raised nearly $7.5 million.) And as the luncheon came to an end, the conversation once again turned to Sebonack's stunning beauty.
Monday marked exactly two years before first-round action of the 2013 U.S. Women's Open. And since it was the first time most of the golfers had ever played the course, which opened in 2006, I was interested to observe how they would approach the layout. On the practice green before the round, I asked Laura Davies' caddie, Johnny Scott, whether he'd be taking notes. "Me?" he quickly replied. "I don't take notes. I'm lazy!" And Maria Hjorth, who shot five under par to claim the day's lowest score, thinks the course will play a lot tougher during the Open.
"If they grow the rough and add speed to the greens, we'll really have to think about shot placement," said Hjorth, who played the course from 6,409 yards. "Any little mistake could be very costly, especially if it's windy."
While Sebonack might look and play completely different at the end of June in 2013, Skinner's mission of eradicating the hardships that surround breast cancer and educating young women about the importance of early detection will remain the same.