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Sean_A

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GLENEAGLES: Compelling KINGS COURSE
« on: May 17, 2016, 06:53:18 AM »
1936 Scorecard.




Time has proven James Braid was not only a first class golfer but also an architectural visionary. It would seem the Kings Course site was chosen on the advice of HS Colt, but Braid made the most of what surely must be terrain that providence meant for golf.  It is surprising then that Gleneagles Kings has not been universally proclaimed as a masterpiece.  With other-worldy gems such as Pennard, Perranporth, Brora, Welshpool and Carnoustie Burnside not given their proper due, perhaps the slight to Braidís architectural acumen shouldnít be unforeseen. 

Very much a moorland setting, The Kings offers all that any golfer could wish: ď...infinite variety of the ground for golf, the undulating character of the surface, the bold natural plateaus, the sandy ridges and hillocks, the rough hollows and ravines, the heather, the whin and the broom, the bracing character of the air and the magnificence of the surroundings, Gleneagles could be made to be absolutely unrivalled among countryside courses." is how the property was described in a quote attributed to Alistair McKenzie and HS Colt in a June 1925 Golf Illustrated article. 

When the Caledonian Railway Company decided to build a resort in the Strathearn setting, one of the first decisions where golf was concerned was to engage James Braid.  Col. CK Hutchison, who would later become an architect of some renown, was appointed Managing Director of Golf and his first task was to obtain the services of Braid.  By early 1914, Braid was on board as the architect, Carters were later hired to construct the course with Hutchison managing the project. At 6537 yards The Kings must have been a stern test when officially opened in May 1919.  With the advent of steel shafts in the 1920/30s the course would gradually become as much of an adventure as an examination.  Of course, for the best players, The Kings was a delight and Harry Vardon was known as a great admirer. 

Some 250 yards have been added to the card since Braid's day and while The Kings can be rigorous it is never taxing.  The simple reason for this is Braid provided plenty of space.  The management team have recently recognized Braidís vision and are now engaged in a renovation.  Several acres of fairway have been reclaimed which feature short grass feeding into bunkers. Newly renovated bunkers which are more visible and better draining will now have a greater influence on play. There is also some discussion about restoring several bunkers (some of which are very short from the tee) which are now hollows.  Several greens have expanded aprons which can create depth perception difficulties. The concept is to create a course more aligned with Braidís creation.  I canít say if the new work has accomplished this, but I can say The Kings is stunning.  It is a rare occasion when a well known course catches me completely off-guard.

Gleneagles does a fine job of blending resort play with that of top flight golf.  Since its inception The Kings has hosted important events, but from the 1980s onward the resort has been a high profile site for professional golf.  However, it is two womenís events which I find most endearing.  The 1937 Curtis Cup played in dreadful weather and which ended in a draw after Jessie Valentine dropped a dramatic putt on the 18th.  The 1957 British Ladies Open saw the very same Jessie losing to Philomena Garvey 4&3.  However, Valentine did find herself on the winning end on three occasions; 1937, 1955 and 1958.  In 1959, Valentine was the first woman golfer to be appointed as an MBE for services to golf. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfU_G1ydpT4

The tee shot for the first is about inviting as is possible and immediately sets a tone which is decidely on the charming and fun end of the golf spectrum. 


Because the Centenary Course is now the presumptive championship venue of Gleneagles, do not be tempted to believe The Kings does not provide a sufficient challenge.  There are several testing shots such as the approach to the first.


Whereas the first climbs, the second descends.




Now then, #3.  The hole doesn't need anything to increase the drama, but the hollow embedded into the hill would heighten the senses if filled with sand.  Even at a well-heeled establishment such as Gleneagles, there is a balance between maintenance and budget.


The approach is to a large two-tier green.




Looking back to the tee from the crest of the hill.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: October 29, 2020, 05:14:12 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

Eric Smith

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-3
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2016, 11:23:06 AM »
Thanks for the tour, Sean. Lovely looking setting and land forms. I'm excited to see the rest. Also nice to see Sir Brian gracing the pages of GCA again, if only in pictures. ;)

John Chilver-Stainer

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-3
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2016, 12:16:15 PM »
Great to see a photo tour of the Kings, one of the true inland greats.


Hole Number 3, or as they call it "the Silver Tassie", defies belief when one stands on the Tee.
One of the iconic blind second shots, more daunting than the 17th at Prestwick, as it comes so early in the round.


As a matter of interest how many similar steep blind second holes are there in the US?
I only know Old MacDonald's Alps Hole - mind you I've only played 10 courses in the US.

Peter Pallotta

Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-3
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2016, 12:27:38 PM »
You had me at "Hello", Sean. Terrific opening post.

Is James Braid the fellow in the cap and Sunday bag who looks wiser than any man has the right to look?

Gently rising opening hole --what a rare trest

Sean_A

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-3
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2016, 12:43:07 PM »
Yer welcome Eric, Pietro and John. 

I don't know of blind shot such as at Kings etc in the US, but I think the Alps is more intimidating because of the front bunker.  At Kings its possible to scuttle one over the top...at least when we were there. 

KINGS TOUR CONT

Regardless of which men's tee is chosen, there are several hard nose par 4s which can easily play as three shotters on any given day.  The 4th is one such example being 443 uphill yards from the daily tees (yellow tees set at 6066 yards to a par of 68....no par 5s)...gulp.  The first par 3 is a beautiful volcano hole of some 150 yards. 


We can see from the old photo that the entire left side recovery option has now been eliminated.


The 6th too is a long two-shotter from the daily tee, though the bunker can be carried.  The chap we played with banged a draw off the right hand mound and bounded on for miles. 


The greens are interesting, but far from the highlight of Kings. That said, the most interesting greens are those which run-away from play and this is a fine example of the type.




Three Jovial Golfers.



Another banger hole follows in the seventh...a mere 430 yards.  The visual clue is to cheat left, but that requires a 280 yard carry! 


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 12, 2019, 01:53:29 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

Thomas Dai

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-7
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2016, 01:51:03 PM »
Nice Sean. It's been a long time since I've played the Kings so good to see it again. Looking forward to viewing the rest of your tour.
Atb

Ken Kearney

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-7
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2016, 03:56:42 PM »
Love Gleneagles Kings.
Played there in 2004 with Lassi P, Stuart H and Jonathan D.  Now there's a few chaps who know a thing or two about golf course architecture.  And the best company for a round of golf.
Really fun golf course.
We must make a get-together again at Gleneagles.
Look forward to the rest of this tour.


Best,
KK
KK.

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-7
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2016, 04:51:24 PM »
Another good tour Sean. The Kings is a real gem of a course and off the yellows as a par 68 shows you do not need excessive length to provide a beast of a test. I hope you managed to get a round on the Queen's Course as well.


Jon

Sean_A

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-7
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2016, 06:08:46 PM »
Jon, ATB and KK...thanks.  Didn't see Queens as we had other fish to fry. 

THE KINGS TOUR CONT

The 8th is an exacting short hole which can accomodate some very difficult hole locations due to the shape of the green.  This photo is from well forward of the tee. 




The side ends on a very high note with for me is a certain candidate for All Scotland.  Heich o' Fash roughly translates as Hill of Trouble.  There is much less room right than appearances suggest, but loads more space left than might be imagined. 






The beauty of the hole belies it's chicanery.  There is space left, but that offers a generally poor angle of approach.  Going at all right might leave one water bound or at the very least in a toublesome lie.  I suspect many good players will try to lay-up to a flat spot left with a level approach to the green.  Most handicap players would settle for the approach below.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 12, 2019, 01:55:35 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

Sean_A

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-9
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2016, 04:33:09 AM »
KINGS TOUR CONT

10 & 11 are fairly flat and of the "necessary type" to balance a round.  Don't misunderstand, these are fine, yet not exciting holes.  The 12th too is fine and offers another thrilling drive over bunkers, but for that the hole isn't terribly demanding.  Perhaps the green is a bit too big to suit the hole.


Braid's Brawest is possibly the best hole on the course.  With a contrary northerly wind most wilI have no hope of reaching this monster in two.  The fairway is wider than it seems with hidden short grass left, but no matter where we drive the expertly placed forward right-hand bunker must be at the forefront of golfers' thoughts.     


The intimidating approach..after a good drive.


Another huge green!


#14 is drivable, but I am not convinced the hole completely settles with me aesthetically. When lumped together, the round pot style bunkers can often look rather silly...as is the case here and in a few other instances.  Perhaps the hole would look more in place with one large slit type bunker or the three current left bunkers.  In any case, it is fun to have go.




It is noteworthy this old photo refers to this 285 yard hole as a par 3.  It is also clear there is less room left than originally...one bunker has been removed.




More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 04:18:05 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

Greg Taylor

Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-14
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2016, 07:27:23 AM »
Thanks for this Sean... property looks great, but the bunkering seems to be eye sore... Looks like course has aged well, but for some reason the bunkers are the product of recent touch up and out of character.


Still one of the inland greats...!

Niall C

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-14
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2016, 09:20:18 AM »
Greg


As per Sean's comments, I think the bunkering style reflects what was there originally. I certainly seem to recall seeing that style from 1920's photos.


Niall

Jeff Bergeron

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-14
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2016, 10:26:26 AM »
Nothing starts the day out with a bang like a Sean A tour! Thanks buddy.

Matt MacIver

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-14
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2016, 08:20:37 PM »
Love Kings but don't like the mowing pattern, here or anywhere else, that style has never fit my eye.

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-14
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2016, 01:17:53 AM »
Love Kings but don't like the mowing pattern, here or anywhere else, that style has never fit my eye.


Interesting thing with the mowing patterns is if you look carefully at Sean's photos they appear to have striped the fairways in the recent past but have used a half/half pattern (which unlike Matt I much prefer) for the last cut or two.


I have no issue with the bunker style though it could be improved but the course does suffer from over bunkering as the tee shot on 14 shows. What the two right hand bunkers add to the hole I do not know.


Jon

Sean_A

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-14
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2016, 04:58:51 AM »
Mowing patterns?  It looks subdued to me and that would be the goal so far as I am concerned. 


KINGS TOUR CONT

Yet another cracking long two-shotter in #15.  There is some talk of restoring the forward bunkers.  I think they would probably look attractive, but other than that nothing would be added to the hole. There are already over 100 bunkers; on terrain such as this it seems a bit unnecessary. 


The fairway is huge, although the centreline bunkers would usually give pause with a normal wind direction. 


Another massive green which slopes away from the fairway.


The final short hole is very fine.  We went back to the championship tee...that sounds onerous, but it is a managable 158 yards.  The problem from this angle is the flag looks as if it is in the gorse!  The green is quite a small target and discussions about pushing it further forward to better connect with the front bunkers have taken place.  There are several greens which don't properly fill the pads.    On the holes where mounds are set off the edge of greens it could be especially rewarding if greens could be expanded to take advantage of tough hole locations. 


Perhaps the sharpest legger on the course, 17 looks dramatically different due to vegetation removal down the right side.  The hole turns left to a well protected plateau green


An exciting hole, the finisher is dead straight over and between a sea of sand.   


The brown bunker down the left is an old version of the bunkering.  I spose that bunker is technically on the Queen's 18th?  Standing behind this green one gets the impression that it could be combined with the Queen's 18th green.  Indeed, at one time the two greens were combined and that must have been a glorious sight.   


I wasn't quite prepared for the scale of the Kings.  It's big golf in every way except in beating up golfers.  The design flows beautifully over the terrain making for a thrilling day's golf. Braid hit on a winning formula with immense width...so much so that Kings looks a very contemporary course with the exception of the third hole and the several run-away greens.  If one were to criticize Gleneagles it would be the golf isn't rough and ready in the way many tourists and Scots have become accustomed.  This may be accurate, but Gleneagles doesn't aim for raw golf.  The resort is 5* with a world class restaurant and the courses reflect this discerning taste. 

When writing about top flight courses it must be the case that top flight holes are present.  On this point there can be no doubt that the Kings scores very highly.  With holes such as 3, 5, 9, 13 and 15, the Kings is laden with All Scotland candidates.  The supporting cast is also of a very high standard; so much so that there isn't an indifferent hole in the bunch.  Having been so carried away with the golf, the spectacular setting has barely been mentioned.  The expansive views of Ben Vorlich, the Trossachs and Ochil Hills are as lovely as anywhere in the UK and perfectly set off Braid's excellent moorland design.  I can only hope to return some day and include the Queen's.  1*  2016

Ciao
« Last Edit: August 12, 2018, 08:23:06 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

Marty Bonnar

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE
« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2016, 12:28:38 PM »
There's an interesting comparison now, isn't it?:





Hmmmmm...

F.
The White River runs dark through the heart of the Town.

Niall C

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE
« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2016, 12:39:59 PM »
Sean


Another cracking tour. As a matter of interest where are you getting your historical information from ?


Niall

Sean_A

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2016, 04:44:10 PM »
Niall

Cheers.  Bits n' bobs picked up here and there.  I keep files on courses and when interesting info comes along I save it.

FBD

One of the goals of the reno was to raise the profile of the sand in bunkers...apparently that is how they were originally. I don't recall the brand, but I do think the new bunkering uses synthetic sand or some such thing.  When we were there the sand had not long been on the pits and needed rain to bed them in.  I thought they played fine regardless. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 27, 2018, 04:07:46 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

Greg Taylor

Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-14
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2016, 05:24:32 PM »
Greg


As per Sean's comments, I think the bunkering style reflects what was there originally. I certainly seem to recall seeing that style from 1920's photos.


Niall


Not disputing that. Just think they lack character.


Just cos the are "golden age" doesn't make the bunkering "good" or above criticism.




Sean_A

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE 1-14
« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2016, 03:42:22 AM »
Greg

As per Sean's comments, I think the bunkering style reflects what was there originally. I certainly seem to recall seeing that style from 1920's photos.

Niall

Not disputing that. Just think they lack character.

Just cos the are "golden age" doesn't make the bunkering "good" or above criticism.

Greg

I know what you mean, though there are many attractive bunkers on the course.  I noted earlier that perhaps when many are bunched together the look isn't great.  Kind of reminds of Trump Aberdeen that way.

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 27, 2018, 04:08:09 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

Brian_Ewen

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE
« Reply #21 on: October 28, 2020, 02:54:18 PM »
Good News ..





Gleneagles will host the Senior Open Presented by Rolex for the first time in 2022.

The Kingís Course at the Perthshire resort will host the 35th edition of the tournament from 21-24 July, 2022.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2020, 03:54:09 AM by Brian_Ewen »

Pete_Pittock

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Re: Gleneagles: Compelling KINGS COURSE
« Reply #22 on: October 28, 2020, 11:07:36 PM »
Sean,
Thanks for the memory. Gleneagles-King was on my first itinerary in 1975. The 3rd and 5th were boggling. I figured 6/7 combination was a par 11.

Mike Bodo

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Re: GLENEAGLES: Compelling KINGS COURSE
« Reply #23 on: October 29, 2020, 08:26:13 AM »
Sean, outstanding expose on this course. Love the grounds and hole layout/structure. What would it cost an American to play a round here currently?
"90% of all putts left short are missed." - Yogi Berra

David_Tepper

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Re: GLENEAGLES: Compelling KINGS COURSE
« Reply #24 on: October 29, 2020, 08:55:43 AM »
Mike -

The green fees are quite reasonable: 150 pounds for the Kings, Queens or Centenary for people not staying at the hotel.

https://gleneagles.com/golf/green-fees/

DT

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