Glenbervie Golf Club was home to the Scottish region of the PGA for a good number of years before the PGA moved in the late 1990s to Gleneagles. It is a testing parkland course which has hosted the British Boy’s Championship (won by Jose-Maria Olazábal in 1983 and David Howell in 1993), Scottish Professional Championship (1986 and 1987) and Scottish Youth’s Championship (2005). It has regularly been chosen by the R&A as a regional qualifying course for the Open.
Glenbervie was designed by the late, great James Braid and opened in 1932. Braid was a renowned course architect and this course has plenty of his trademark design features, in particular the positioning of bunkers specifically to create landing areas for tee shots. He was the first golfer to win the Open five times and was one of the original members of the R&A Golf Club. He was also a founder member of the PGA and eventually became its President.
Another great name in Scottish golf is synonymous with Glenbervie – John Panton. He became professional here in 1964 and served the club until he retired in 1984. Four years later he was honoured with the title Honorary Professional to the R&A in St Andrews. John played in three Ryder Cup matches – 1951, 1953 and 1961 – and played in the World Cup 13 times for Scotland. He won eight Scottish PGA titles, the British Matchplay in 1956 and the World Seniors in 1967, defeating Sam Snead 3 and 2 in the final at Wallasey.
There are many strong holes at Glenbervie and the toughest two are located in each half of the course. The first is the 9th a 435-yard dog-legged par four named “Bluebell Wood” where a demanding (uphill) drive is required off the tee, avoiding out of bounds in the trees down the right. A good shot will be needed to reach a position where the well-protected green is in sight (down the other side of the hill) to receive the approach shot .
The second is the 14th a 409-yard par four titled “Braid’s” which is played slightly uphill and against the wind, usually. If the drive is not caught flush then par is a forlorn hope. A good second shot is required to get anywhere close to the flag on this green, especially when positioned on the top tier.
I played Glenbervie for the first time and could not believe how beautifully manicured it was, every hole a different challenge, facilities are tremendous, not a bad view on the course, the greens are some of best in Scotland, the membership was out of my price range but I enjoyed so much I saved my money and joined the club so I can play it as often as I like, it has made me a better golfer in doing so, where I struggled at other courses now I feel I can beat my handicap at any course now.
I’d been meaning to play here again for some time now as my last game on this course was all of ten years ago. One of the monthly golf magazines recently included Glenbervie in its Scottish Top 100 listings so that was all the incentive I needed to finally make a return visit.
The par four 1st hole gets the round under way in terrific fashion, where the fairway doglegs left and downhill to the green from a ridge that the clubhouse sits on. It doesn’t take long to appreciate the impressive size and scale of fairways that are set out within a mature parkland property, with single specimen trees and fairway drainage ditches cleverly incorporated into the routing on several of the holes.
The landscape is rolling, featuring agreeable changes in elevation that are never too demanding. Greens are large and reasonably contoured, even with the 2-tiered versions at holes 3, 12, 14 and 18.
On the front nine, I loved the short par four 3rd, doglegging left to the green, and the long par three 7th, which plays to a strong stoke index of 7. The standout holes on the back nine are the two demanding par fours that rise up towards the clubhouse at the 14th and 18th, though the doglegged 12th - artificial fairway pond excepted - is another fine hole on the inward half.
Glenbervie’s a big, solid track that might best be described as a “proper” golf course and I can certainly understand why at least one golf publication has deemed it worthy of a place in its national Top 100 chart.