Few places in the British Isles can boast three courses, let alone three Top 100 courses, but then, there's only one Gleneagles. James Braid was the master architect behind the King's and Queen's but the PGA Centenary is the course that Jack Nicklaus built, so it goes without saying that this is an American-styled layout.
The PGA Centenary (formerly known as the Monarch) opened for play in 1993 and it's a big stadium course. In fact, it's the longest inland course in Scotland, measuring a nearly 7,300 yards from the back tees. There are five tee boxes to choose from, so select carefully to ensure maximum enjoyment. We're not buggy lovers, but there are some long walks between the greens and tees. If the PGA Centenary is your second round of the day at Gleneagles, a buggy comes highly recommended.
“The finest parcel of land in the world I have ever been given to work with,” was how Jack Nicklaus described the rolling moorland. This is Nicklaus's first and only design project in Scotland and he's done a fine understated job. Only a couple of holes feature water hazards, and these are for practical, irrigation reasons rather than for effect. The PGA Centenary definitely complements, but also contrasts markedly with the King's and Queen's. The usual Nicklaus features are in place – huge undulating greens, bold bunkering and, of course, a number of risk and reward holes.
The key to scoring well on the PGA Centenary is to avoid coming up short with your approach shots. Invariably, much of the trouble is at the front of the greens, so take enough club. Our favourite holes are those adjacent to the King's course and the 5th is a cracker. The long par four is called "Crookit Cratur" and it's a fun rollercoaster of a hole with a bottle-necked entrance to the green. The 9th is also superb – a par five which has trouble in the shape of water and bunkers (one of which is huge) lurking down the right.
In consultation with Jack Nicklaus, the PGA Centenary course closed for renovation in October 2011 and reopened at the end of April 2012. Click here for full details.
We wonder what Bernard Darwin might have thought of the PGA Centenary course. We do know that he loved the King's and the Queen's. We suspect he might have said something along these lines: “The PGA Centenary course was intended to test the rampaging animal to the full. Jack Nicklaus has unquestionably made of the PGA Centenary a 'big' course on which it was enthralling to see the big men, from both sides of the Atlantic, stretch themselves during the 2014 Ryder Cup.”
Gleneagles is one of our Top 100 Golf Resorts of the World
Frankly, this is an American style design superimposed upon the Scottish landscape. As others have correctly opined, why would you play PGA Centenary when the King's and Queen's courses are on-site?
The essence of Scottish golf is being able to facilitate character and having, at times, some interesting quirk that excites the imagination. The layout is not geared towards that. It is simply a formulaic design which team Nicklaus has done countless times in other locales.
When I read the quote from Jack Nicklaus that this was the finest land he has ever been able to work with -- I wonder who crafted the PR statement for the Golden Bear? The Nicklaus team must have forgotten the land they had with the creation of Cabo del Sol's Ocean Course in Mexico! There are other more notable sites that the Nicklaus team has had the opportunity to create clearly superior courses than here.
Sad to say, hanging one's hat on the fact you hosted a Ryder Cup Match is not exactly a ringing endorsement. Other deadly dull layouts have done likewise. The Belfry (Brabazon) and Celtic Manor's (Twenty Ten) come quickly to mind. But facilities interested in hosting Ryder Cup Matches -- especially on the European side -- need to shell out plenty of financial capital to secure the nod. Quality architecture is a good bit ways down on the list.
Gleneagles is a first rate resort -- but the Nicklaus addition stands clearly apart from what should have been something of real stature. A pity.
by M. James Ward
Played in a open day and the range and facilities of the changing room and staff are first class. Now onto the golf, bit disappointing the started wasn't there to welcome us firstly but we teed off and the course starts off with a gentle par 4 then a birdie-able par 5 second. Lovely views all round of Scottish countryside but the course is a bit bland and you can see if was built to host events as doesn't have the Scottish charm like the other two gleneagles courses, its a very generic Americanized course. The fairways were a bit bare in September which is quite bad and the greens very bumpy but alright. The course itself is nice dont get me wrong and a few nice holes like the 5th and 6th which take you more through the countryside near the kings course but too many bland holes and I would say i prefer playing cardrona or dalmahoy which are far far cheaper and nicer in my opinion. I would not play here again but the kings and queens courses are beautiful ( althou also not always in pristine condition for the price ) but very good courses with varying holes and the Scottish charm. So to sum up i would say overpriced, avoid and play the other two :)
A fair review. I was in the area again recently and was having a pint with some locals in Auchterarder, a nice place for a night out. As one said "I can't understand them holding the Ryder Cup on the fourth best course in Auchterarder". That doesn't include the G West by the way, which is apparently being brought back to life. Still, it's an exclusive members only facility like Loch Lomond, Skibo and the Renaissance. Pfft.
As for the course itself, it wasn't as bad as I had expected! While nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing as the King's or Queen's it is quite a plesant track with a handful of memorable holes but also some pretty weak holes - surely they are going to have to do something to 18 before the Ryder Cup as it is hard to imagine the hole generating much in the way of drama. The back 9 is probably the more interesting stretch with some short par 4s which require more than brute force and the par 5 16th is a very pleasant hole with a real risk or reward across water. There have been changes on the course over recent years - notably the 12th becoming a long par 4 (3rd longest on the course from the yellows) rather than a shortish par 5. However, and excuse me but this really annoys me, they have not changed the stroke index of the hole. It plays as stroke index 14. That is just laziness for a course which has prentences to be world class.
I was invited back a month later and for sure the greens had come on a lot and they may be just about playable for when the tour comes in August. I walked the course on the second visit and while some of the 400 yard plus walks between green and tee were annoying it was just about doable so don't feel you absolutely need to take a cart if you have a basic level of fitness.
To have the Ryder Cup in Scotland in 2014 is a great event for all of us fans who live here. The course will no doubt accomodate spectators very well and hopefully it will be in acceptable condition by then. However, to look over so many great courses in the country and to follow the money to Gleneagles is a real shame. The course is just about acceptable as a Challenge Tour venue and we will be portraying it as the Pride of Scotland and that just isn't right.