SCARBOROUGH, N.Y. -- Before Gil Hanse was a household name in golf, his work restoring the private Sleepy Hollow Country Club in 2006-07 set him on a path that would eventually lead to high profile jobs such as redesigning the famed Blue Monster at Doral and the Olympic course in Brazil.
Hanse removed thousands of trees to open up Sleepy Hollow's heavily wooded corridors, a grand vision that revealed sweeping views of the Hudson River and exposed rock outcroppings. The work on 27 holes originally designed by two legends, C.B. Macdonald and A.W. Tillinghast, allowed the playing turf -- and golfers -- to breathe again. A reverse redan hole at no. 7 and punch-bowl green at 15, signatures of classic golf architecture, remain as a nod to the past. A revitalized Sleepy Hollow, located an hour north of New York City in Westchester County, continues to be one of the country's most revered places to play.
The par-3 holes of the main, 6,880-yard, par-70 course are pure magic. Players walk across the "Haunted Bridge" to reach the elevated third green, home to spectacular views. The seventh hole drops 217 yards off an elevated tee to the severely canted green. The 172-yard tee shot at the 10th hole plays over a pond in an idyllic remote corner of the property. The 155-yard 16th hole showcases the spellbinding scenery of the river, finishing at a rectangular green guarded by a narrow bunker ringing its perimeter. The climb up the 18th fairway is a triumphant march toward a mammoth mansion on the hill.
The upper floors of the historic, 70,000-square-foot clubhouse -- originally a manor house built for a member of the Vanderbilt family -- offers elegant rooms for overnight guests. Members have their pick of amenities, swimming at the pool, playing tennis, riding horses at the riding academy, shooting skeet and trap, and teeing it up on an extra nine.
Everyone lucky enough to visit should buy something in the pro shop. One of the best logos in golf, the headless horseman of Sleepy Hollow, proves the prowess of this club, dating to 1911, is the stuff of legend.