Gleneagles: A landmark year for Perthshire's crown jewel

Gleneagles Hotel

This September, Gleneagles will welcome the best female professional golfers from Europe and the USA to do battle for the most prestigious prize in women’s golf: the Solheim Cup.

For Scotland, it will be the third time that the biennial match has been contested in the home of golf – a record for any country on this side of the Atlantic. For Gleneagles, it will continue a proud record of hosting some of the world’s most prestigious golf events.

From the Ryder Cup, to the Curtis Cup, to the Scottish Open, and now the Solheim, the five-star property has a tournament pedigree that is rivalled by few and envied by many.

However, the Solheim Cup – taking place on the PGA Centenary Course – is only one reason why 2019 is shaping up to be a memorable year for Gleneagles. This year also marks the centenary of its two other 18-hole gems: the King’s and Queen’s courses.

• 2019 Solheim Cup to be shown on BBC

Pga Centenary Course

Designed by the great James Braid, the two tracks opened on the same day in 1919 and it is testament to their enduring quality – and the high standards to which they have been maintained down the years – that they are more popular today than ever.

“Every year, they just get better and better,” says director of golf, Gary Silcock. “We’ve invested a lot of time and money over the last few years in restoring them to be more in line with the original Braid look and feel using old photographs and drawings. They’re two exceptional courses and we’re excited to celebrate them in what promises to be another landmark year for Gleneagles.”

• BECOME A MEMBER OF THE GLENEAGLES PGA ACADEMY

Located at the very geographic heart of Scotland, Gleneagles has become used to having the eyes of the world trained on it. From hosting the G8 summit of world leaders in 2005 to the 40th edition of the Ryder Cup in 2014, it isn’t just accustomed to being in the spotlight – it thrives on it.

• Gleneagles introduces new 'Further Afield' membership

“In a golf sense, we never wanted the Ryder Cup to be the pinnacle for us,” adds Silcock. “Rather, we viewed it as just the start.”

The decision by VisitScotland to build its bid for the 2019 Solheim Cup around Gleneagles speaks volumes for the high esteem in which it is held, both at home and internationally.

Solheim Cup Trophy

“The intention is to hand the Solheim Cup back better and stronger than it has ever been,” says Silcock. “In a sense, we’re showcasing on behalf of Scotland and reminding the world of what an amazing golf product the country has. We’re hugely proud to be involved.

“I’ve worked at other tournament venues and can confidently say that Gleneagles is on a whole other level. The hotel is world-class and that’s a theme that extends throughout the property.”

• Free clubs for Perthshire juniors thanks to Solheim Cup

Reminding people that there is more to golf in Scotland than exceptional links courses, adds Silcock, is something that is important to everybody at Gleneagles.

“We can offer people an experience that’s a little different. At our core, it’s all about providing exceptional customer service.”

• Tickets on-sale for Solheim Opening Ceremony Day

Whilst the Solheim Cup will no doubt take centre-stage, Gleneagles is also planning a host of other celebrations in this landmark year, from open competitions to family events.

“We are determined to continue to be as proactive as we possibly can,” says Silcock. “We are definitely not going to rest on our laurels. Part of celebrating a momentous year like this is setting up more momentous years to come and we absolutely intend to do that.”

• For more information on golf at Gleneagles, log-on to gleneagles.com or call 0800 704 705.

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Gleneagles Kings

The King's Course

PAR: 71 YARDS: 6,790

The course

Quite simply a masterpiece of golf course design, the King’s Course has tested the aristocracy of golf, both professional and amateur, for 100 years. Designer James Braid’s plan for it was to test even the best players’ shot-making skills. Selecting the right club for each approach shot is the secret on the King’s. It is certainly one of the most beautiful and exhilarating places to play golf in the world, with the the sweeping views from the tees all around, the rock-faced mountains to the north, the green hills to the south, and the peaks of the Trossachs and Ben Vorlich on the western horizon.

Standout hole

There’s no shortage of candidates. The par-3s, in particular, are incredibly strong. Equally, the third hole, with its blind approach over a steep mound, will linger long in the memory, too. However, if we were forced to choose just one, it would have to be the par-4 14th - it is absolutely sensational. It’s classic ‘risk and reward’ stuff, measuring only 260 yards from the whites, so bigger hitters will be tempted to go for the green. But here’s the deal: you can’t see it from the tee and it’s a very small target, measuring only 40 yards from front to back and roughly ten paces wide. Get it even slightly wrong and there are ten bunkers waiting to punish you. If you’re going for it, your ideal line is over the second bunker from the left as you stand on the tee. 

• Official 2019 Solheim Cup tartan unveiled

bunkered’s verdict

The King’s is moorland golf at its absolute finest and it’s not hard to see why, for many, it is the pick of the courses at Gleneagles. Tight and tricky, it is great fun from start to finish and has one of the finest closing stretches in Scottish golf.

Did you know

In 1921, the King’s played host to an informal challenge match between professional golfers from Great Britain and the USA. The strong British side, which featured course designer James Braid, won 9-3. The success of the match led to the creation, in 1927, of a more formal match, which we know today as the Ryder Cup. 

Gleneagles Queens

The Queen's Course

PAR: 68 YARDS: 5,965

The course

Affectionately regarded as the little sister to the King’s, the natural beauty and unabashed quirkiness of the Queen’s Course has, down the years, attracted top golfers such as Johnny Miller, Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros, Tom Watson and Lee Trevino. But be warned: what it lacks in length, it more than makes up for in challenge. Threading through high ridges on the north and west sides of the estate, the Queen’s offers lovely woodland settings, lochans and ditches as water hazards, as well as many moorland characteristics. At little over 3,000 yards long, the challenge of the first nine can be deceptive, with even some of the best players finding it a test to make par into a fresh breeze.

Standout hole

As is the case with the King’s, the par-3s on the Queen’s are fantastic, particularly the two back-to-back short holes at the 13th and 14th. However, if we had to choose just one, we’d go for the par-4 sixth. It’s as strong a hole as you will find anywhere at Gleneagles and one where precision is paramount if you are to avoid dropping a shot. Out of bounds runs all the way down the right hand side of the hole and only a few paces off the fairway. Meanwhile, there are five bunkers to be negotiated between the tee and the green. Take your drive down the left hand side to take three of them and OOB out of play and make sure you go with plenty of club into the uphill plateau green. Trust us: you absolutely do not want to come up short.

• Gleneagles joins forces with new pro McCook

bunkered’s verdict

The Queen’s Course is wildly underrated. It is a great test of shot-making and will reward players who prioritise brains over brawn.

Did you know

As well as some of the world’s top golfers, the Queen’s Course has also been graced down the years by some of the biggest names from the world of showbiz and entertainment, including Sean Connery, Burt Lancaster, Bing Crosby, Jackie Stewart, and astronaut Alan Shepard, the only man ever to have hit a golf shot on the moon.

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