OG Design Series Profile: Briarcliff Hollow

This is the first entry in my OG Design Series for TGC Tours, which I am bringing over from my blog to the TGC Tours blog. In this series I have challenged members of the community to design stirring tributes to some of the greatest architectural venues in the golf world, but those that may not have enough public data available to create a worthy and accurate real course rendition. Parts 2-5 will be posted soon.


Briarcliff Hollow is built by the community’s venerable Seth Raynor historian, who goes by JoegolferG. This rendition pays tribute to the spectacular Sleepy Hollow Country Club in New York. Below are course details provided by Joe, along with a number of screenshots that I’ve put together.



My next design in the template saga is finally complete. Briarcliff Hollow is a fictional version of Charles Blair MacDonalds, Sleepy Hollow Country Club. This course was fully built in TGC2, using splines. There are minor waves on some greens and fairways. Apologies in advance.


The course is laid out on a beautiful hillside that provides many dramatic, and gorgeous views of the Hudson River, situated at the bottom of the property. Sleepy Hollow has two course in real life, the lower course which is a nine hole track, and the higher course which the MacDonald gem. I’ve built my fictional version to use both, the higher and lower parts of the property to maximize elevations.


The course is a par 70, coming in at 6824 yards from the back tee’s. This isn’t a difficult course, instead, it is supposed give the player an enjoyable round of golf on some classic template holes. The greens play soft but fast. The fairways play medium firmness with a medium amount of roll. The greens aren’t overly difficult, but there are a few holes with some pretty tricky spots. I’ll leave a flyover of the real course, and my course underneath. Bear in mind that my course is NOT an RCR. I’ll leave those to the real experts…


Flyover of Sleepy Hollow


Flyover of Briarcliff Hollow


Additional Design Notes


In the earlier day’s of looking up template hole design, Sleepy Hollow was one of the first courses that really caught my eye and attracted me to the concept of using holes that take the best characteristics from famous golf holes in Europe, Britain mostly. The moment I saw Sleepy Hollow and read up on its rich history, I knew right away that one day I’d build a course inspired by it. The plot is by far one of the best pieces of land anyone could ever want to build a course on, with it being on a huge hillside hugging the Hudson River, and featuring a hollow that splits the lower and higher parts of the course, Macdonald was a very lucky man indeed.


The routing wasn’t as simple as it looks. The eighteen hole course at Sleepy Hollow is mostly routed through the higher part of the course, leaving the lower half to the nine hole course. I decided from the get go that I wanted to merge both the higher and lower land to build my full eighteen on. That’s the beauty of building fictional courses based on real one’s. You have plenty room for maneuver. The main reason I took up the lower and higher parts, was because I wanted to throw in some deceptive elevation changes on the course, the par four seventh (Leven) is a perfect example of this. From tee the hole is only a 350yd drive and pitch, if you take on the bunker that obscures your path to the green. With the zoom in camera the drive looks like a sure thing, easy carry over the bunker and pitch on, but it isn’t as simple as that. I built the uphill slope to be very easy and gradual, it almost looks flat from the tee. For those who fail to read the elevation, with a slight wind against, are most likely going to end up in the fairway bunker and will probably start wondering how that happened. All in all I used both parts of the property to maximize the use of the plot and to help build as many “skyline” greens as possible. One little side note… If you look over the tree boundary to the right of the eleventh green, you’ll see a par three course under construction.


As I always stress in my published threads, I do NOT build RCR’s. I leave those to the real experts… Briarcliff Hollow is supposed to be my take on Sleepy Hollow CC. I always like to add in as many of the aspects as I can from the real course. But many of the times, due to routing the course differently, I cannot pull off everything that the course has to offer. As with this design, I added in pretty much all of the templates used at Sleepy Hollow, with a couple more brought over from other courses. One of the biggest challenges of building an inspired by, is to capture the look and feel of the course you’re using as guidance. Usually this involves building the right kind of environment and surroundings, especially on a course like Sleepy Hollow where the river becomes one of main attractions. The best to build an inspired by is to find out which of the holes are deemed to be the standout builds, and put them into your creation. Obviously I felt quite a bit of pressure when telling myself this, because the Short hole at Sleepy Hollow is one of the most snapped holes in golf (outside of the PGA Tour bubble). I knew that this hole alone could be my standout and puzzle piece to building a successful fictional. But along with hole there were others that also deserved the same treatment. The Punch Bowl just before you get to the Short, and the eighteenth that plays back up towards to clubhouse, also felt like iconic holes at Sleepy Hollow. So, I’d say to build a real authentic inspired by, you have to include the most popular holes, build up the same surroundings/environment and keep your other holes suited to the design style and theme of the course you’re building off.


I’ll leave a list of the templates used in this design.


Hole 1 – Narrows



Hole 2 – Plateau


Hole 3 – Alps


Hole 4 – Reverse Redan


Hole 5 – Valley


Hole 6 – Cape


Hole 7 – Leven


Hole 8 – Biarritz


Hole 9 – Double Plateau


Hole 10 – Original


Hole 11 – Eden


Hole 12 – Road


Hole 13 – Original


Hole 14 – Original



Hole 15 – Punch Bowl


Hole 16 – Short


Hole 17 – Long


Hole 18 – Original


Just a little extra shot of the clubhouse that I threw in (CL)


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