The Queen’s course is the pretty little sister at Gleneagles. The holes are set within an all together softer landscape than the King’s and PGA Centenary courses. She’s only a short course and not the most challenging, but she is exquisitely delicate and stunningly beautiful. Patric Dickinson summed up Gleneagles in his book, A Round of Golf Courses: “So let us be fair from the very start; or even before the start, Gleneagles is something that was created, and exists, sheerly to please; if I may take a simile from the theatre, it is glorious musical comedy.”
Designed by James Braid and C.K. Hutchison, the Queen’s course opened for play in 1917. From the medal tees, the course measures less than 6,000 yards, but with a lowly par of 68, it represents an immensely enjoyable challenge. This is one of the finest parcels of golfing land in the British Isles. The holes weave their way across undulating moorland, through charming woodland, to greens set in pretty glades. The ball sits proudly on the springy fairways, inviting the most solid strike. The greens are true and ideal for bold putting and this really is an enchanting and exhilarating place to play golf.
Gleneagles is unusual in that it has three different golf courses and it’s also unique because it’s the only place in Scotland to have three Top 100 inland courses. This is a place to enjoy the entertainment and have some fun. Or as Patric Dickinson said: “Gleneagles is one of the wonders of the golfing world, a kind of Hanging Garden of Babylon on a Scottish hillside, and if you marry Golf, here’s the place to spend your Hinny Mune!” ¹
Gleneagles completed a renovation programme on the Queen’s course in 2017. Eighty-nine bunkers were rebuilt to improve drainage and enhance the sand line visibility on each of these hazards. Fairway mowing lines were also modified to return the course to James Braid’s original design plan. Additionally, the 16th green, which is laid out in a natural bowl shape, was also upgraded to improve drainage.
Scott Fenwick, Golf Courses and Estate Manager, said: “As with the re-launch of The King’s Course last summer, our work over the last 18 months on The Queen’s Course has taken it back to how it would have been in Braid’s day. Braid’s bunker designs at Gleneagles were based on the courses supporting summer play only, so to bring them back to his original design concept, and make them playable all-year-round, marks a tremendous achievement.
“In the mid-1980s we began changing the identity of The Queen’s to meet golfers’ expectations at that time, which included reshaping the course until the fairways became really narrow and the original bunkers were moved into the rough. Using archived photographs and Braid’s designs as our guide, we’ve reversed most of those changes, increasing the fairways by around 40 per cent.
the 11th hole, for instance, we’ve removed one bunker and resurrected
another that used to sit in the rough – bringing back into play a more
strategic hazard and ultimately transforming how the course is played, giving
golfers a more traditional experience. Additionally, around the course, we’re
re-introducing Scottish heather to frame the fairways and better reflect the
course’s appearance in the 1920s.”
Gleneagles is one of our Top 100 Golf Resorts of the World
Another Braid design the Queen opened in 1917. It is not long but it has character. I would describe the first hole as welcoming, right off the tee is best. The second is a real short par 3, but whatever you do, do not miss left. The 3rd hole is along par four. Plan for an extra club. The next hole of note is the 7th. A short par 5, favor the right side to provide a green light to reach the green in two. The 8th is a birdie oppty, blind tee shot where you should favor the left hand side, The 9th is a long tough par 4. To give yourself the best chance at par favor the right side off the tee and take an extra club for your approach shot. The 10th is a long par 4, Off the tee favor the right hand side of the bunker and on the approach the green sits in a bowl. Errant shots left or right should kick down towards the green, After the 10th you are faced with the ridiculous of a a forced 10 minute break at the halfway house. Crazy, let's make golf take more time? The 11th is a short par 4 dogleg left, favor the right side off the tee the green is protected by 5 bunkers, but definitely a birdie hole. The 12th while it appears to be a long par 4 is misleading. A well struck drive will roll down the hill to set up a 100 yard pitch to the green. Be careful, there is no bell and we almost killed the guys ahead of us. Normally i am not a fan of back to back par 3s but the Queen pulls it off nicely, the 13th is short with a water hazard tight and 14 is an elevated multi-tiered green. The 15th is a driveable par 4, a super risk reward hole where a ball left or right can lead to a double. The Queen is a par 68, comfortable but not exciting and sadly grossly overpriced
In my view it is too highly ranked, with 20 courses lower ranked but better. Definitely not as good as the Kings, although a composite course would be the stuff of dreams, with the Queens offering the 6th, the world class 10th, 12th and possibly the 18th (against the wind when I played).
I played the Queen's course on a mild but sunny August day after weeks of rain in Scotland. The course would probably be considered short by most at a hair under 6000 yards, however soft fairways and a prevailing westerly wind make the course feel much longer, especially with seven par 4s over 400 yards and a par of only 68!
My favourite hole is the 421 yard, par 4, 10th ‘Pint stoup’. The tee shot is very open, usually downwind and extremely inviting with the Ochil Hills in the background. The second shot is the fun bit of the hole for me as it demands an accurate shot to a green positioned in a bowl between two copses of pine trees. I hooked my drive a bit left into the light rough, but then felt great satisfaction from lifting a floaty seven iron shot over tall pines on the left to within 15 feet.
Many of the other long par 4s including the 6th, 9th, 12th and 18th are great holes, although may play tough for the average golfer who may find they love them if they score well, but hate them if they become a bit of a slog. I actually particularly enjoyed some of the shorter par 4s which come towards the second half of the round and offer some well earnt relief from the trickier holes. The 8th, for example, is fun little hole that seems to naturally guide the drive for a nice approach spot. The 252 yard 15th is a great risk and reward, driveable par 4. The 378 par 4 16 also great fun to drive on as the natural contours from the bunkers can easily kick a good drive forward towards a small wedge shot.
Overall, a great course that is by no means easy, but which offers some good birdie opportunities.
It’s possible, and most likely probable, that the Queen’s at Gleneagles is the best golf course under 6,000 yards. Not just in Scotland but anywhere.
Yet don’t be fooled into thinking this is a short layout which can be overpowered or that it’s a fiddly little thing lacking any real substance. The par of 68 (SSS 69) ensures that the 5,926-yard James Braid masterpiece, played up and over large natural ridges, through wooded valleys and occasionally across tranquil lochans, is more than a true test of golf.
Indeed the first six holes all head roughly in the same direction and play into the prevailing wind. There is nothing short or easy about any of them with three of the four two-shotters topping the 400-yard mark. The best hole of this opening sequence is undoubtedly the sixth, a gloriously beautiful hole of 437-yards, which plays through a valley before rising up to a green sitting proud on an angled ridge plateau.
If you’ve come through the opening third of the course unscathed (I didn’t) then you do have some opportunities to put a score together over the next few holes as well as on the much shorter inward half but there are certainly no gimmies and still a couple of card-wreckers to follow.
The weakest holes on the course in my opinion are the first, 11th, 13th and 18th but they are by no means poor holes. The other 14 are either very good, excellent or in the case of the sixth, 12th, 15th and 17th truly superb.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
On the day we played, Scotland was covered in frost. The hour and a quarter drive from the west saw a minimal rise in temperature with the mercury only hitting positive when we entered Perth and Kinross, would frost stop play? Fast forward 2 and a half hours (Only 1 hour and 10 minutes after our allotted tee time and you would never have guessed that there had been any dodgy weather, the fairways were lush, the greens only slightly marked by a light spiking, we were more than good to go. I was pre-warned of the natural beauty of the Queen's Course but I suggest it was undersold to me, as the place is just simply stunning. You could be standing in a 3D Gainsburgh or Constable masterpiece it is just breath-taking.
But you can’t play the view, thankfully, the course matches its surroundings with a magnificent variety of holes which will more than keep you on your toes. I am honestly struggling to name a weak hole as I don’t believe there are any however, holes 9-14 and 17 are just a wee bit more special. The Queen's is undoubtedly one of Scotland visual show stoppers and that, along with the Gleneagles name, comes at a price. I urge you if you get the chance to play here on a corporate or winter fee then grab it with both hands, you will not regret it. So hats off, (again), to James Braid, Earlsferry’s finest, for another design classic, perhaps the prettiest in all of the land or as Del Boy and Rodders might say. Pukka!!!!!!!!! MPPJ
Golf on this course is not meant to be too taxing as fairways are generally wide and open, but bunkers are large, deep and plentiful - the craters on the 7th in particular - so good scoring has to be earned. The opening half dozen holes are bounded on the right by discreet housing then the minor road that leads to Braco but that’s as close as the outside world gets to even a hint of outside interference.
The offset green perched on a ridge at the 6th is a high point on the outward half and the uphill, right angled dog leg at hole 9 is well worth it’s stoke index rating of 2. Views of the gWest course down below can be seen from the elevated position of the 8th fairway and although it lies only a quarter of a mile away to the west of the Gleneagles estate, the new course looks a totally different type of layout, bereft of trees or sizeable changes in elevation – but more of that some other time when it opens for play…
Of course, the telephone on the 10th tee just has to be dialled to place a late lunch order that’s ready 15 minutes later in the Halfway House beside the 11th tee of both the King’s and Queen’s courses. And as we sipped our cups of tea and looked out on the Perthshire hills from the cosy wee cabin with the sun streaming in through the windows, it merely confirmed that we were at one of the top places to play inland golf in the country.
After an engaging outward half, the back nine don’t disappoint in any way whatsoever. In fact, if anything, the natural beauty quotient is cranked up even higher with the highlight for me being the beautiful 12th - think Royal County Down’s 9th where the fairway drops down from a plateau to green level - followed by wonderful back-to back par threes that skirt little Loch an Eerie. It’s a stunning little trio of holes that makes best use of every inch of the landscape on that part of the property.
I can’t remember when I last saw so many green keepers working on a course (I was told there were 20 working between the King’s and Queen’s with a similar number on the temporarily closed PGA Centenary), mainly hollow tining greens - about half the putting surfaces had been worked on – so the current major renovations off the course are being matched on the fairways and greens.
As this is only the second Queen’s review posted in the last three and a half years, perhaps it’s time non-corporate golfers found out what they are missing by trying one of the special 4-ball tee times offered by Gleneagles. Jim McCann