The 18th green at the PGA Centenary Course (photo taken this winter by Gleneagles Staff) received the most changes during the off-season renovation project.
AUCHTERARDER, Scotland -- After a rainy winter under the knife, the PGA Centenary Course at the Gleneagles Resort is reopened and ready for public play.
The course, originally opened in 1993 and designed by Jack Nicklaus, is the newest of three at the Scottish resort in Perth & Kinross about an hour's drive from St. Andrews. It hosts the Johnnie Walker Classic annually on the European Tour and will host the 2014 Ryder Cup Matches.
The decision to renovate can be traced to the weather-maligned 2010 Ryder Cup Course at Celtic Manor in Wales, which served as a warning sign to Gleneagles. The Ryder Cup's move on the calendar into late September and early October to satisfy the PGA Tour and European Tour challenge these types of environments, which tend to receive more rain and don't dry as fast as sandy links courses. Resort officials chose to invest heavily in drainage management, which included SubAir greens and rebuilt bunkers, rather than risk a sequel to 2010's MudWorld.
'Some of the technology we're using really is at the cutting edge,' said Scott Fenwick, Golf Courses & Estates Manager at Gleneagles. 'We're the first club in the U.K. to have a fully installed SubAir system on all 19 greens - which should help the greens withstand some of the vagaries of Scotland's climate. We're also the first in Europe to use the 'Better Billy Bunker' drainage method, developed by former Augusta superintendent Billy Fuller.'
From a design standpoint, the most noticeable consistent difference is that many of the course's bunkers originally not visible from the tee will be now.
The hole that changed the most is the par-5 18th. The tee box was raised about 2.5 meters to provide better visibility of the fairway. The final 250 yards of the hole was entirely redone: the fairway was lowered five meters and the green was rebuilt as well as seven surrounding bunkers. On the par-5 9th hole, fairway bunkers were added closer to the green to make more golfers choose to go for the shallow, elevated green in two shots.
Gleneagles is trumpeting their 2014 staging as the return to the home of the Ryder Cup. While the first official matches were staged in 1927. But resort historians are quick to point out a match in 1921 that brought the best U.S. golfers to the resort to compete in a match versus a British team that included James Braid and Harry Vardon and the match was called the 'International Challenge.' That wasn't staged on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Centenary, of course, but the King's Course, a James Braid masterpiece.
Whether or not you choose to play the PGA Centenary at Gleneagles or the King's and Queen's, you'll still be able to enjoy resort enhancements leading up to the event. The Dormy Clubhouse was recently renovated - and the slick locker rooms will be sure to turn even the well-traveled tour pros' heads when the Johnny Walker Classic and Ryder Cup comes calling. The public can book tee times on the PGA Centenary, King's or Queen's Course at Gleneagles.com.