Nestled at the foot of the Highlands and surrounded by some of the prettiest countryside in all of Scotland, Gleneagles is a luxury hotel and golf resort situated on the windswept moorlands of Perthshire. It was built by the Caledonian Railway Company during the 1910’s and was most likely inspired by the success of other rail and resort destinations such as Turnberry and Cruden Bay. James Braid designed the first two courses on the vast estate, both his Queens and Kings layouts opening in 1919 with the magnificent chateau style hotel completed five years later.
The Kings Course was created out of a dramatic wilderness cleared mostly by horse and cart, its holes built over an undulating sandy heath and the springy fairways lined with punishing gorse areas, heather patches and frequent copse of pine and birch. Most of the golf falls naturally across ridges and deep glades or through small-secluded valleys and attractive glens. With sweeping views of mountains to the north and rolling green hills to the south, the scenery throughout the journey is as rich and impressive as the resort’s luxurious lodgings.
The Queens Course is almost as impressive with the same pleasant scenery and a collection of fine short and mid length threes and fours. Shots into the 9th, 12th and 17th on the Queens Course are among the most enjoyable on the entire property. The newer Jack Nicklaus designed Centenary Course, on the other hand, may be a Ryder Cup venue and occupy attractive ground, but it is indistinguishable from many of his other projects and disappointing when compared to the mighty Kings and its under-appreciated little sister. The fairways here are largely flat and the greens lack the intrigue and subtlety of those next door. Approach shots to the semi-blind 7th and the massive Redan-shaped 4th are both fine, as is the opening hole and the last third of the 16th. Otherwise there isn't much to recommend beyond perfect maintenance and pretty scenery.