Gleneagles resort: Moorland countryside blazes bright for golf
"If Heaven is as good as this, I sure hope they have some tee times left." -- Lee Trevino
PERTH AND KINROSS, Scotland -- The only thing better than teeing it up at Gleneagles on a brisk, cool fall day, surrounded by falling leaves of russet, gold and red, would be if Sean Connery, a frequent visitor, was going to join you.
Maybe you will have better luck.
Bob Hope also loves this special golf haven in the heart of Perthshire.
"Why do I have such great affection for Scotland? The people are so warm ... and you've got Gleneagles. If only Scotland had California weather, I'd move there," Hope once said.
Gleneagles is a distinguished place where one can experience bagpipes, see tartan-clad lads engaged in country skills of skeet and falconry, glare upon heather-clad hills, some plowed and brown and others green with growth. You can gaze toward the Ochil Hills, down the glen of the eagles, sight the rugged Grampian Mountains and see the majesty of Ben Vorlich and the mountains above the Trossachs.
Some have played the golf courses of Gleneagles and agreed it is the finest moorland golf setting in the world. Cut from rolling terrain with tawny edges and dormant-brown ferns lining the green fairway borders, the golfer also must contend with firs, pines and silver birch. There is a blaze of color at every turn.
Jack Nicklaus said, "I have always thought Gleneagles is one of the greatest places in the world to play golf." In 1991 he got his chance to design a golf course at Gleneagles. "The PGA Centenary location is the finest parcel of land in the world I have ever been given to work with."
Gleneagles' Nicklaus design will host the 2014 Ryder Cup.
To say the staff at Gleneagles is excited about the Ryder Cup announcement is an understatement.
"If they wanted to stage the Ryder Cup here today we would be ready," said Graeme Marchbank, director of golf. "It's a great golf course for viewing, we have infrastructure with the hotel and the rail station nearby, and 2014 will be a milestone year for the resort, which will be celebrating its 90th anniversary."
From the back tees, Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course measures 7,081 yards, the longest inland golf course in Scotland. However, the tees are graded at each hole in five stages, including a challenging 6,551 yards from the white markers down to 5,065 from the red.
The newest course at Gleneagles has the best of the U.S. and Scotland. You will find traditional Scottish pot bunkers and American-styled traps. You will be challenged by ponds, wetlands and streams making a clear thought process a must on target-styled holes.
Wester Greenwells, a par-5, 516-yard test at No. 2 is named for the ruined croft, seen just above the green. Keep your second shot on the right side of the fairway because a huge lake hugs the left side.
Ever wondered what Golden Bear was called by the olden-day Scots? It's Gowden Beastie, the name of a par-3 beauty at No. 4, a 239-yarder from the back with a huge trap left, guarding an elevated green.
The No. 1 handicap hole is No. 5, Crookit Cratur. First you have a blind tee shot through a narrow tree-lined chute. Then the approach on this 461-yarder has all kinds of hidden difficulty. There's a greenside bunker that guards the left and a wetlands to the right. Mis-hit it just a little and you will be wet.
No. 11 is a short, fun hole of only 350. Drive it too far, however, and you will find the Laich Burn, or stream that fronts the green.
"PGA Centenary is an amazing golf course," said Marchbank, whose father was once the head pro at Gleneagles. "I think it is fair, but a tremendous challenge. You see almost all the problems. There are only a few semi-blind shots, but it can grab you at any point. You can be breezing along with a good score and zap, you record a seven. You just can't let your concentration fade at any point."
Gleneagles' King's and Queen's golf courses
James Braid, the five-time winner of the British Open, designed the King's Course and Queen's Course at Gleneagles, and both opened in 1919. Both are classical in design and as popular today as when they opened.
The Queen's Course, measuring 5,495 yards, is a par 74 for the ladies. It is threaded through high ridges on the north and west sides of the Gleneagles estate and offers woodland settings with lochs and burns as water hazards. It concludes with a tee shot over a small pond to a rolling fairway and an approach shot to a bunkered green set below the windows of the clubhouse and restaurant. For the "gents", as the Scottish say, it plays to a short, but challenging 5,965, par 68.
The King's Course demands your shot-making skills and club selection on each approach. Check out the pithy Scots' names of the holes on this 6,790 yards, par-71 layout. Names like "Het Girdle" or "Hot Griddle", a tough par-3 of 178 yards. The 17th named "Warslin' Lea" or "Wrestling Valley" denotes the struggle you face on this 377-yard par 4, with the narrowest fairway on the course
Golf instruction and practice facilities at Gleneagles
Gleneagles' fun, par-3 Wee Course is a light alternative for both beginners and experts and recalls the original nine-hole course at Gleneagles, constructed in 1928 by the head greenkeeper, George Alexander, and staff from the hotel.
The Golf Academy, which opened in 1994, enshrines the philosophy that improving a player's performance improves their enjoyment of the game. The academy, which includes a covered 320-yard double-ended driving range with capacity for 40 golfers, provides an important focus for developing a player's short game in addition to improving play from the tee.
Gleneagles' 11-acre championship standard practice grounds are designed for play behind or into the prevailing wind and for practice of all aspects of the golf game.
Gleneagles provides several putting greens on the estate including a championship putting green at the practice grounds.
October 11, 2001