Gleneagles (PGA Centenary) - Perth & Kinross - Scotland

Gleneagles Hotel,
Auchterarder,
Perthshire,
PH3 1NF,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1764 662231


Gleneagles played host to the 2014 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Europe. Team Captains were Tom Watson (US) and Paul McGinley (Europe). After a 41-year gap, the Ryder Cup returned to the “Home of Golf” and the heartland of Scotland. In the end, the event was a rather one-sided affair where the rookies on both teams played a significant role. Jordan Speith and Patrick Reid gave the USA hope after the Friday morning fourballs, thrashing Ian Poulter and rookie Stephen Gallacher 5&4. But after the Friday afternoon foursomes the momentum had swung in Europe’s favour. The pattern continued on Saturday with the USA narrowly winning the fourballs but again losing heavily in the afternoon foursomes. With a 10-6 lead going into Sunday's singles it was rather a formality for Europe. Poignantly, the winning shot fell to another rookie, this time Europe’s Jamie Donaldson, who hit a magnificent approach to beat Keegan Bradley 4&3 giving Europe the crucial 14½ points. Europe 16 ½ - USA 11 ½. The Ryder Cup was played at Medinah in 2012 and was played at Hazeltine National in 2016.

Few places in Britain can boast three courses, let alone three nationally ranked Top 100 courses, but then, there's only one Gleneagles. James Braid and C.K. Hutchison were the master architects behind the King's and Queen's but the PGA Centenary is the course that Jack Nicklaus built with Ron Kirby, 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 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 cart 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" – it's a fun rollercoaster of a hole with a bottle-necked entrance to the green. The 9th is also worthy of mention – 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.” The PGA Centenary returned to centre stage in 2019 for the Solheim Cup, which Europe won by a single point. Europe 14½ USA 13½.

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Reviews for Gleneagles (PGA Centenary)

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Description: From the back tees, the PGA Centenary at Gleneagles is the longest inland course in Scotland. It was also the venue for the 2014 Ryder Cup. Rating: 5.4 out of 10 Reviews: 28
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Matthew Adams
Shocking! I don’t normally believe in writing negative reviews of anything but in this instance I feel it is necessary. The PGA Centenary course is set in stunning scenery with many visually appealing holes but woefully let down by its condition (in early September 2011). I learnt the game on a course which resembled a bog in winter so am used to muddy conditions. I also paid low green fees in line with the poor conditioning. All golfers have the right to expect better conditions in return for Gleneagles’ level of green fees.Gleneagles (PGA Centenary) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer Casual water squelched up from my feet on every fairway. On the 4th green I managed to plug a 3 iron shot in its own pitch mark. The fifth fairway moved under foot like stepping on a blancmange as if damaged by frost. Many tees were hollow tined which I understand is necessary work (but this was not advised at time of booking or before starting play) but combined with soft conditions made teeing off more perilous than necessary. Due to tour schedules the upcoming 2014 Ryder cup cannot be held during the dry of high summer so I fear course conditions could be worse than 2010. I suspect both captains will load their teams with bombers and gougers in order to compete on this ‘everything-through-the-air’ course. The 17th and 18th are unlikely to provide dramatic finishes although the 16th may compensate to some degree. It seems to me that the course looked great on paper during the design stage but with little consideration to drainage and Scotland’s weather. Perhaps the other courses at the resort started life this way too.
September 13, 2011
2 / 10
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Jim McCann

I returned to the PGA six years after posting the first review for the course on this site as I was keen to see if any of the changes in recent years by David McLay Kidd might endear the place to me a little bit more this time around – after all, I absolutely love the oversized layouts of Spey Valley and the Duke’s in St Andrews so why should I not be able to take to the PGA the same way?

Gleneagles PGA Centenary course - photo by Jim McCannThe opening half dozen holes are excellent, especially the par five 2nd and two par threes at 3 and 6. I wasn’t enamoured by the large mounding and bunkers to the left of the fairway on the 8th and the enormous lateral sand trap on the following hole still jars my golfing sensibilities.

Holes 10 and 11 are solid but then the stretch between 12 and 15 are easily the weakest on the card as they occupy the most elevated and least interesting portion of the property.

Granted, the round picks up again at the tough par five 16th but the long uphill march to the 18th green really is an unavoidable trek back to the home hole.

So, for me, a mixed bag of very good and not so good, even though the Gleneagles stamp of quality is evident on every tee, fairway and putting surface.

I’ve heard the 18 holes here described as “the 4th best course in Auchterarder,” which really is unkind. I’ve also read uncomplimentary quotes from a couple of prominent professionals who are not big fans of the PGA course. Never mind, the Gleneagles brand is big enough to deflect the criticism and, anyway, all those comments will be long forgotten in three years’ time when fans roll up in their tens of thousands to spectate at the 41st series of Ryder Cup matches.

Jim McCann

September 12, 2011
6 / 10
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Hamish Wilson
I am surprised to see this course rated at 42. I have played on about 150 courses in Scotland and I would not rate it in the top 100. On a top course you would expect to remember most of the holes after playing the course and I cerainly remembered quite a few but all for the wrong reasons. It gives the immpression of having been stuck in the only available piece of land so a third course could be created. To get a true perspective given the choice would anyone prefer to play this course rather than the King's or Queen's? It is just a long slog and a very long walk!
October 12, 2010
2 / 10
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David Jones
Having played the King's several times I had always pretty much avoided Centenary as I had heard stories of the hard slog it could be and never really fancied it. By chance though I played it twice in the last 6 weeks. My first visit was fairly horrific. We played it on the Bank Holiday weekend at the beginning of May. I was staying at Glenmor and a friend joined me for a round. He paid £75 for the round and we shared a buggy for, I think, £40. At the time of booking there was no mention of the horror of what to come. The greens were to all intents and purposes unplayable. Two months of snow and frost at the beginning of the year had left them holed and pitted. In all my years of playing, growing up on council courses in Edinburgh, I had never seen anything like it. There was no way it was possible to move the ball to avoid the holes - they were everywhere. What was so galling was that no-one at Gleneagles had mentioned this to us. It epitomises so much of this place these days - they are out for the money and don't really care about your experience. The fairways were all cut to aid drainage I guess and again there was no mention of this.

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.
June 02, 2010
4 / 10
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Tom Sleater
Played this on saturday 18th April - and have to say that i kind of slightly disagree with some of the strength of the comments below. Whilst I agree it does feel slightly manufactured - it is mainly due I think to the lack of age. In a few years this will feel much more natural. I played it off the tips and it was more of a test than the King's course in my mind in that the King's was easier to score on. The condition of the course was poor though as the fairways were all a mess and the greens shocking. I can however imagine the course in full glory with banks of ryder cup spectators. I may be slightly rose tinted in my assessment as the stay was a freebie and I would have been slightly harsher if I paid full green fee which is not good value right now - which even the starter affirmed. To my mind though was the holes i birdied which will be re-told in 2014 when I watch the ryder cup. It's good but not great....
April 19, 2010
6 / 10
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Jason
While for the most part the PGA Centenary Course designed by Jack Nicklaus keeps to a similar bunkering style to that of the two Braid courses, the same cannot be said for the integration of the golf holes into the landscape.  While James Braid used manual labor and horses and carts, Jack Nicklaus had large excavators and bulldozers at his disposal to construct the PGA Centenary course, the problem is that the machinery created golf holes that are disconnected with the natural landscape.

While many of the golf holes are a good test of skill and offer great views to the greater landscape of Perthshire, it is on a finer level that it falls short.  On many of the holes it appears that a bulldozer flattened the area for the fairway and green and pushed it to the sides, leaving some nice mounding to the sides of the hole but that stop before the fairway instead of flowing into the fairway to create an undulating surface rather than a flat fairway.  The lack of movement in the fairways is not only evident from a visual standpoint but also from a functional one as many of the flat fairways are soggy because there is not enough slope.  The feeling that many of the holes give you on the PGA Centenary course is that the golf holes were "bulldozed" into the landscape instead of being overlaid onto the natural topography like the King's and Queen's courses.  This lack of integration provides a stark contrast to the Braid courses which seem much more compact because they are fitted into the landscape.  James Braid uses the natural slope on the sides of fairways to create a target area that is wider than it looks because the slope will kick a ball into the fairway, while Nicklaus has cleared the topography away to create a wide, expansive and flat target area that is much less interesting.

While the PGA Centenary Course challenges golfers and is still a scenic and aesthetically pleasing course to play from a golfer's point of view, it could be a great golf course instead of just a good one had it been better integrated with the landscape.  While all three courses offer a slightly different challenge among the rolling terrain of Perthshire, it is the landscape integration like that of James Braid on the King's and Queen's courses that all golf course architects should strive for in creating great golf courses.  It is the attention to detail that creates the unique character of the King's and Queen's courses that makes them a must-play destination for golf-goers in Scotland, but in contrast it is attention to detail that leaves golfers begging for more on the PGA Centenary Course.   
March 09, 2010
4 / 10
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Hamish Wilson
This is my idea of a nightmare. It might look good in USA but is totally out of place in Scotland. Long walks between green and tee make using a buggy almost esential. It may suit low single figure handicaps under 30 years but not the vast majority of golfers. The only reason the Ryder Cup is to be here is Money. From previous comments it is clear some people like it but the world would be a strange place if we all thought alike!
December 22, 2009
2 / 10
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Dan Hare
PGA was a fun course to play, but its location in amongst houses and with long trips from green to tee is incongruous in the beauty of Gleneagles - King's then Queen's then (long gap) PGA for me.
August 09, 2009
6 / 10
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Craig
Excellent long golf course, lots of excellent holes that challenge you. The first is an excellent par 4 and the 16th and 18th are strong par 5's. One of my favourites in scotland but needs to go some to be in same league as Loch Lomond or even the King's course
April 20, 2009
8 / 10
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Chris Jones
April 21, 2009
Sorry to disagree but the 18th cannot be described as strong. It is just rather long and a bit boring - needs a facelift prior to the Ryder Cup in 2014 to be honest.
ADC
April 26, 2009
King's front 9 and Queen's back 9 remains the best hybrid course at Gleneagles. PGA course is not in the same league - nice walk but it is hard to see the Ryder Cup there alongside a better set of holes!!
Tim Reed
Have been to Gleneagles many times, but had not played the PGA. The course was in immaculate condition. There are some great holes on the front nine, but I was very disappointed by some of the holes on the back nine. They gave the impression that they had run out of space, time and money. That being said, changes are being made. I played off the white tees and did not find the course unduly long. There are some holes where the blue tees would have made a fair difference. It is a fair course with good shots generally being rewarded. The undulations on the greens make holing any length of putt difficult. A buggy is highly recommended, but only if you are allowed to take them on the fairway. Otherwise you will have some long walks and no idea what club to take, as the buggies do not have Sat Nav!!
June 07, 2007
6 / 10
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Jim McCann
June 08, 2007
If the kind of golf you play requires buggies with Satnav then SCOTLAND, never mind Gleneagles, is not the place for you, sorry!
dan
August 09, 2009
Jim, not that you are wrong but to follow the tenor of your note you would avoid the PGA entirely. This course should not be played without a buggy, some long stretches between holes. King's beats it hands down - playing round houses ?!?