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Friday, May 20, 2011

Sleepy Hollow Centennial

Sleepy Hollow Country Club celebrates its 100th anniversary today. The club was founded by the nation's most prominent business leaders at the pinnacle of America's "Gilded Age," opening officially on May 20, 1911.

Sleepy Hollow will acknowledge its centennial with various activities, but top of the list is the Metropolitan Open, which will be played at the club for the first time since the tournament began in 1905. The Met Open is the MGA's premier event and one of the most prestigious tournaments in the nation. The championship title has been held by all-time greats of the game including Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Walter Hagen, Henry Picard, Tommy Armour, Paul Runyan, Craig Wood, and Claude Harmon. Bob Rittberger of Garden City CC is the defending champion for the 54-hole event to be held August 23-25 at Sleepy Hollow.

They will play on the only course in Westchester designed by Charles B. Macdonald. Over the years, the course has been changed for various reasons, but a major restoration was undertaken in 2007 under the architect's pen of Gil Hanse. The goal was not to rebuild Macdonald's original layout (which would have been impractical given all the changes the course has endured over the years) but to recreate a course blending Macdonald's concepts with the demands of the modern game. The results are generally spectacular.

When Sleepy Hollow opened in 1911, there were 600 members and a long waiting list. The founding members are a Who's Who of the business community of the day including John Jacob Astor (who died a year later on the Titanic), William Rockefeller (brother of John D. Rockefeller), and Frank Vanderlip (President of the National City Bank of New York, the forerunner of today's CitiGroup). Vanderlip was the creator of the club, which he founded on property he bought from Rockefeller, who had himself purchased it from Margaret Louisa Vanderbilt Shepard, a granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

The Sleepy Hollow clubhouse is as magnificent as the golf course. It was completed in 1895 at a cost of $850,000--a huge sum for the time--and retains today the original character and features of the design by architects McKim, Mead, and White. The mansion includes a ballroom, library, formal dining room, and 18 guest rooms as well as the golf pro shop and locker rooms. An original Tiffany window lights its grand staircase and the view of the Hudson River may well be the finest in the county.

Golf is not the only activity offered at Sleepy Hollow. A spectacular European-style stable is home to some 50 horses and is the centerpiece of the club's extensive equestrian program. There are also two indoor and two outdoor riding rings. Members can also indulge in swimming, tennis, skeet and trap shooting, and squash. Golf is king, however, with an additional nine-hole course and state-of-the-art instruction and practice facility also available.

In addition to writing about golf, Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for small business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, hiring, firing, and motivating personnel, financial management, and business strategy.

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