Gleneagles PGA Centenary
Designer: Jack Nicklaus
In a land where Old Tom Morris, James Braid, or even the Almighty are considered the most prolific golf course architects, a design by Jack Nicklaus may seem a bit out of place. In fact, of the nearly 400 courses across the globe credited to the Golden Bear, only one is found in Scotland. And yet when the world of golf arrived to Gleneagles for the 2014 Ryder Cup, it was his PGA Centenary course that stood front and center.
Originally known as the Monarch, it doesn’t take long for one to realize this course was built for big events. It is the longest inland course in Scotland and may at times feel like one of the PGA Tour’s massive stadiums. After Nicklaus returned for alterations in the late 1990’s, the course was renamed and took on hosting duties for the Johnnie Walker Championship. The event called Gleneagles home for the next 15 years and, more importantly, served as an audition for a much larger role.
Jack Nicklaus once proclaimed Gleneagles to be “the finest parcel of land I have ever been given to work with.” Some would say that such a lofty proclamation should have led to a different result; one that was less Nicklaus and more Scotland. There’s no denying the Centenary is an “American-style” course, with plenty of deja vu moments for anyone that’s played a few of his “signature” designs. However, to cast it aside with comparisons to its seaside links cousins is, at best, an unfair judgement.
The heart of the front-9 is likely to provide a few highlights, as it weaves its way toward the land occupied by the famed Kings course. The same can be said of the wildly undulating 18th green, which was redesigned specifically with the Ryder Cup in mind. Ironically, it rarely saw any action.
If it didn’t share a home with the spectacular Kings and Queens courses, the PGA Centenary might earn a few more admirers. One thing both the fans and critics of the course are sure to agree on, however, is the magnificent setting. The rolling Perthshire hills form an inspiring backdrop throughout the round and are a constant reminder of everything that is great about Gleneagles. This despite what you may have heard from the U.S. Ryder Cup team.