Forever twisting and turning, contoured and defined elegantly yet is at complete peace with its surroundings

Gleneagles (Queen's)

Gleneagles Golf Club (Queen's)

Gleneagles Golf Club (Queen's)

Date Reviewed
July 2, 2017
Reviewed by Ed Battye
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.

The 12th is a brilliant driving hole where the fairway narrows but steeply descends after approximately 250-yards. If you can hit the fast lane you will be rewarded with a much shorter approach. The 15th is a fabulous risk-reward short-par four, one of the best of its kind, and plays over a valley to a green sitting in a bowl at the end of a funnelling fairway that skulks between a couple of sand traps – get the tee-shot right and you’ll more than likely make birdie but get it wrong and you could be made to look a fool.

Meanwhile the 17th is the best one-shotter, not just on the course but perhaps across inland Scotland, and has one of the longest greens I’ve seen. It is also contoured sublimely – to find it though you must hit a longish iron, or perhaps even a wood, over a valley and avoid a cavernous bunker to the right which if found will leave you in a world of pain.

The true joy of the Queen’s course – opened in 1917 - is simply the land it is played over; forever twisting and turning, contoured and defined elegantly yet is at complete peace with its surroundings. It can’t be compared to Brora (another Braid design) regards the style of golf - this is more moorland as opposed to links - but the way that the holes have been draped over the landscape in such an uncomplicated and flowing manner is very similar. The plentiful bunkering, which has recently been revamped, is also clean, classic and fits into its surrounds effortlessly. The exterior views divine.

The only disappointing aspect of my round here was the condition of the greens and aprons due to recent hollow-tining and sanding. I’ve played over 1,000 open competitions and have never known a club treat greens just prior to a competition. I’m sure Gleneagles have different priorities to most other clubs but it did leave a slightly sour taste; mainly because the subtle borrows looked fantastic and these were diminished due to the maintenance.

The Queen’s may play second fiddle to the King’s (and rightly so, although my memory is a little hazy of its big brother) but this is a course that can claim a significant amount of credit and pulling power in its own right.

Read the review of Gleneagles (Kings) here.

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