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
The Queen’s course at Gleneagles is an ideal complement to the King’s for they are right next to one another and played over identical terrain. I prefer the latter over the softer brush stokes of the Queen’s which does not in my view get going until the 6th tee.
After that the Queen’s is a ‘beauty’ with some incredible tee shots such as the spectacular drives at 7 8 and 18 and holes that are designed in a unique fashion and simply just work very well. Hole 10 is a great example where after a big open drive, the hole turns sharply left and down between trees requiring an approach that is struck with pinpoint accuracy to reach the sunken green.
It is however possible to score well over the latter holes if your A game has turned up on the day.
The Queen’s is not even 6000 yards from the ‘tips’, this is short by today’s standards and rewards accuracy and imagination over power. The excellently-maintained and routed course is for the golfing connoisseur to enjoy and reflects a golden age of the game when golf was looked upon more as a pastime than a sport.
I chose beauty, the pretty sister to the Kings to play on my 1st trip to Gleneagles. And she didn’t disappoint. The course had been closed Saturday, due to heavy overnight rain, when I was scheduled to originally play, so I played 1st thing Sunday morning, out on the 1st tee time. What a blessing. The weather was good and it allowed me to take my time and really absorb all aspects of the course, without any pressure from behind.
This is a beautiful course, I understand it has been renovated back to more how it was designed over 100 years ago. And it left me in awe of how James Braid shaped and fashioned this exquisite course. Yes, it’s not long but why some reviewers mark it down for lack of length astounds me. Long does not necessarily mean better but the Queens shows that short can be.
The fairways are generous, and if I hadn’t realised that this is very much how Braid designed it one could be forgiven in thinking that it’s been widened over the years to accommodate tourists. The fairway turf is firm and springy, even after a heavy days rainfall. The biggest defence was the wind which I played into for the 1st 6 holes and the cold air (about 8 degrees), which made the course play longer.
The opening hole allows even the most nervous golfer to tee off from in front of the starters box and hit the fairway. But I liked the view facing you for your 2nd shot as the fairway narrowed up to the green which is surrounded by trees and banking to the left.
Out of the 1st 6 holes, I suppose the 2nd took me by surprise, such a short par 3 so early in the round. It almost felt like it was wedged in to what would have been a better flow from the 1st green to what is the 3rd tee. That said, with the wind blowing at me I had to club up and still found the bunker at the front of the raised green. A good early warning, which helped with my clubbing choices for the following holes.
The 3rd and 4th holes, play straight out with the stone wall fringing the course to the right. The 4th requires correct club selection for the 2nd shot as the green sits atop banking. After a straightforward par 3 5th, the best of the opening 6 is the 6th ‘Drum Sichty’. The fairway is in a funnel so the ball runs back from the left banking onto the fairway. The green is above you and the pine was tucked tight right, with only a few yards to the right bunker. So aiming more for the centre of the green I wandered up to find a very large green and a very long putt awaiting me.
You then get to the 7th and this plays 90 degrees to the first 6 - like a rectangle, the 1st 6 holes are one side and then the 7th is effectively the short side at the end. This is played with open countryside behind it. I thought the bunkering was good and made you think about your shot selection, leaving a short 3rd to what looks like an infinity green. Better to walk up and see how the green is laid out.
Then the 8th plays at 90 degrees, effectively starting the next side of the rectangle. I liked the 8th. The bunkers looked good from the tee, but dont really come into play unless you miscue. Otherwise you are left with a short iron into a green that slopes away from the front and to the right. The greens had all just been ironed and played firm and fast and true.
This is where the rectangle ends, as the course then works its way back inside the space between hole 6 and hole 8. I though the routing was clever. The 9th is a dog leg right, working back up inside the 8th, then dog legging back up alongside the 7th. Btw, when walking down the 7th, take a look at the 9th green and pin placement. The green slopes back to front, so leave yourself and uphill putt if possible. The 10th, plays from an elevated tee and dog legs left to a hidden and narrow green. From the tee again the bunkering looks good, but the fairway is wide and generous so aim more right leaving a better view into the green.
The hallway house provides a welcome break then back to the course. The 11th is open and short so par or better should have you happy following your break for a drink and bite.
Then you play into what is a beautiful part of the course. Again from a high tee, the 12th is a blind tee shot. Hit a big drive and your ball will wander its way down the slope which you cannot see from the tee. The green is flat and situated in the lowest point of the course, surrounded by banking and a small lochan. The 13th and 14th, both par 3’s were particular favourites, the first not difficult but played with the lochan to the front and right and the second because of its two tier green situated on a ridge 177 yards from the low tee.
And then you’re on the last stretch played back parallel to the opening few holes. The 15th is a short but again beautiful to look at short par, gently sweeping to the right, bunkers to catch an errant drive. The 16th plays down a funnel to a green that slopes front to back and left to right. And then the 17th, a long par 3 built into the hillside where you need to carry to the green. Anything slightly short will see your ball funnelled right and down the slope either to a grassy area 20 foot below the green or in the bunker. I thought this and the 14th were the best of the par 3’s. Then the final hole, played over the valley you teed off over on the 1st and to a rather gentle finish on a large green back in front of the clubhouse. It’s still a good finishing hole, but compared to the beauty you have just played to, a notch down.
That takes absolutely nothing from the round. It isn’t the hardest course in the world, but it is the most beautiful short course I have ever played. The scenery is wonderful, the routing expertly designed, the framing of the holes with banking and trees visually stunning, the conditioning 2nd to none and the overall experience one you will savour for a long long time.
Next time I will play the Kings and the Queens, because this pretty sister of the big brother will be on my must play again list.
Don’t be macho and bemoan its shortness - Go play, and have yourself some fun. I did.
Your review makes me want to visit Andy. Not many things in life are better than fun golf in an inspiring setting - seems this is one area where the Queen’s doesn’t come up short
BB, get yourself up there. It’s such a spectacular setting, the whole ambience of the Resort and the golf course was to die for. Already planning a return trip next year, when I’ll add the Kings to the play list, but will definitely play the Queens again. After all, golf should be fun :)
What a fantastic little golf course. Even though it measures under 6000 yards it certainly didn’t feel short, although the lack of run may have had something to do with that.
There are so many good holes here. I loved 4, 6, 7 with its infinity green, 9 back up the hill, 10 to the punch bowl green. 12 for me was the best hole on the course. A semi blind tee shot, you can either lay back and leave a long shot that plays quite significantly down hill or take on a blind drive into a narrow passageway and bundle on down the hill leaving a shorter approach. The green on 14 is great, especially with the pin being perilously close to the ridge when I played it. Then you come to the 17th. I don’t normally like par 3s over 200 yards but this I can make an exception too. A massive chasm to the right, an incredibly narrow green sitting in a little bowl. What a hole!
For me it’s the best course at Gleneagles and arguably the best inland course in the country. Absolutely loved it despite playing rancidly rotten which is always the sign of a good course for me!
In an ideal World for your first visit to Gleneagles you wouldn't have to choose between Brawn and Beauty, and you'd play both Kings and Queens. Complementary in nature, they make a brilliant 36 hole destination particularly if you can spend the night at the hotel (yes 36 - we won't mention the drive thru 18 on the other side of the road !) The Queen's has some very satisfying holes around the hillside, and the way the course wends its way through a valley to its conclusion is beautiful and memorable.
The Gleneagles Queen's course is a delight and even prettier than the neighboring King's course. It is like playing in an arboretum or nature park at times such is its beauty.
It is not a real golfing challenge due to the lack of length on many of its holes and the lack of truly punitive bunkers, but nonetheless it is a joy to play and one should play it if they are staying at the hotel for 2-3 or visiting the area for that length of time.
The green complexes, in general are not quite as strong as on the King's course but the greens themselves are the equal.
I particularly liked the 4th, the 6th (with those magnificent views), 8th, 10th, the pretty short 13th with the loch, the long 14th and the fabulous green on 17.
It might be the prettiest inland golf course in the world, if you ignore some in New Zealand.
For such a delightful course and one that is a joy to play, a 3 ball 'average' rating seems at odds with your glowing commentary?
Andy, the Queen’s course is fun to play and visually appealing on several holes. If one is staying at Gleneagles or in the area, it is worth playing if one cannot get to the many better options within a 2-3 hour drive.
But architecturally, the Queen’s offers nothing new and the lack of length and inadequate defenses such as the bunkering means it is not a consistent challenge.
I debated giving this a 3.5 due to the enjoyment factor, but certainly would not have gone beyond that.
I agree with Ed Battye, the Queen’s course maybe the best course in the world under 6,000 yards. Can anyone propose a better one?
Yes, Gleneagles is expensive but you get what you pay for. I’d play the Queen’s ten times rather than subjecting myself (again) to the PGA Centenary.
Some box tickers ignore the Queen’s in favour of playing the King’s, listed by some in the World Top 100, and the infamous Ryder Cup course. Who doesn’t want to play a modern Ryder Cup course once? I’d happily circle around the Queen’s and play it over and over again.
Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason. Yes there are a few “ordinary” holes but anyone who can’t appreciate “Drum Sichty” where the views become mesmeric and “Pint Stoup” with its green set enchantingly in a little dell, are comatose.
If the outrageous green complex at “Hinny Mune” (the 250-yard par three 17th) and the elevated tee shot over the little loch on the home hole do not stir your soul then you are officially departed.
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.