the Kings Course, Gleneagles

Grant85

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I had never played golf at Gleneagles - had a visit to the 2010 Johnnie Walker and 2 days at the 2014 Ryder Cup (both on the PGA Course) but a mate organised a game as part of a 4 ball deal for £220, so up to the Kings we went on the middle Saturday of October.

Upon arrival, we could collect a few range balls and get a warmup at no extra cost. A nice touch, costs v little and many won't use it, but def gives you a premium feel to the day. There was also a nice putting and short game area you could access.

So at 1410, we teed off on the Kings. As an East Ren member, I had heard the comparisons made given the same architect in James Braid as well as similar terrain meaning a lot of raised greens and forced carries.

It's fair to say that the Kings was like East Ren on steroids. The comparison was there, but the Kings definitely had a bigger and better feel about it. The greens were perched up higher, there was a lot more fairway bunkering and far fewer trees giving a great impression of a huge site.

The Kings is a fantastic layout. One thing I hate about going to big resort venues is inevitably long walks between holes which adds time and saps energy from your day. With a 100 year course, that is not an issue at the Kings and almost every tee is a dozen paces from the previous green.

The conditioning. We were playing in mid October and it had been pretty dry for over a week prior to this. As a result the course was in excellent condition. The greens were receptive, but quick and true to putt on. The fairways still had a bit of run and all round the turf was in great condition.

The golf course. This is simply a brilliant course that has stood the test of time. It has a lot of memorable holes that you find yourself still picturing a few days after playing - this is not something I often do and usually need a few goes round somewhere before I can recall the layout. There is a reasonable mixture of short and long par 4s. 2 par 5s that most will find extremely playable off the yellows and 3 x par 3s that most will play with a mid to short iron and 1 longer (the 11th) that is more of a challenge.

The standout holes for me are the iconic par 3 5th. A volcano like green surrounded by bunkers where you just have to hit a great shot (150 yards or so) and also leave below the hole.
Also the 9th, which is a short par 4 with a tee shot down into a valley, leaving around 100 yards back up to a steeply raised green. Unfortunately I played a poor approach, but the satisfaction you'd get from hitting a green so high above you would be immense and it's one I hope for another go at.

Other factor was the fairway bunkering. We played off the yellows (6,066 yards) and I'm an average length hitter, but there was so many holes that I could confidently take on the fairway bunkering and as long as I made a good swing and strike, I could clear them. Which was so unbelievably enjoyable for a higher handicapper where you are used to being right in the run out zone off a good drive and feeling like you are aiming at a sliver of fairway or laying up. So I guess longer hitters may want to play off the whites (6,472) for the full experience.

Bad point. Saturday afternoon, bright October day, 4 ball deal in full swing. We got round the first 10 holes in decent time, after being held for a few minutes on the 1st and 2nd tees. There was then a halfway hut and the starter had instructed us to wait 10 minutes there. We were chasing the daylight, so picked up a quick bite, the par 3 11th was clear, so we hit up. There was a 2 ball behind us who didn't even go into the hut and just waited behind us, keen to not lose their place on the course.
Not sure if it was just a concertina effect of 4 balls or the halfway hut slowing up a few groups, but the final 7 holes were brutally slow, with 3 groups waiting on some tees. We just about made it in before dark, but there were plenty behind us who wouldn't have. It wasn't a slow round, not much over 4 hours but we'd got round the first 10 holes in decent time, then just hit a brick wall. It felt like there were too many groups out on a late afternoon, with fading light and that really hurt our chances to finish in reasonable conditions.

Other point - the 1st green slopes from back to front. You need to give any downhill putt huge respect (front left pin for us) and in reality there is almost no way of stopping some putts short of hitting the hole, or aiming to deliberately miss on the low side. I'd need another few goes to work out how to play it before saying it was unfair... but 1st impression of the green was basically to ruin a few scores on the 1st hole with a near impossible pin position. In the summer, in quicker conditions it could embarrass even the best golfers.

But all in all, the Kings vaults quickly into my list of favourite courses. I don't rank courses as it's simply impossible but it's up there with the best courses I've played and would return in a minute.
 

Lord Tyrion

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I played it a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. I beemed all the way round, it was an absolute pleasure to play. If you don't find joy in playing that course then look for a different sport.

Halfway huts do seem to have a negative impact at times. Perhaps they need a starter on the 10th as well as the 1st? Precision timing on the 1st becomes irrelevant if 1 group takes 12 minutes, another 7 minutes, another doesn't want to stop etc.

I think our feelings on the course are similar. Lucky old Hank Marvin, playing there all of the time.
 

patricks148

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I played it a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it. I beemed all the way round, it was an absolute pleasure to play. If you don't find joy in playing that course then look for a different sport.

Halfway huts do seem to have a negative impact at times. Perhaps they need a starter on the 10th as well as the 1st? Precision timing on the 1st becomes irrelevant if 1 group takes 12 minutes, another 7 minutes, another doesn't want to stop etc.

I think our feelings on the course are similar. Lucky old Hank Marvin, playing there all of the time.
i'd agree about the starter on the 10th one of the occ i played with Jim we hung around for half an hour, the place was rammed, so just played on. most of the guys behind us who stopped wouldn't have got round while it was still light
 

Lord Tyrion

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i'd agree about the starter on the 10th one of the occ i played with Jim we hung around for half an hour, the place was rammed, so just played on. most of the guys behind us who stopped wouldn't have got round while it was still light
At somewhere like Gleneagles it isn't as though they are short of staff or someone couldn't manage it? From memory I think the hut services the Kings and Queens course as well so one person covers both courses. It would keep the courses moving, golfers happy at the end which is the important thing. What course wants golfers to come off feeling disgruntled, particularly when they are paying hefty green fees?
 

patricks148

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At somewhere like Gleneagles it isn't as though they are short of staff or someone couldn't manage it? From memory I think the hut services the Kings and Queens course as well so one person covers both courses. It would keep the courses moving, golfers happy at the end which is the important thing. What course wants golfers to come off feeling disgruntled, particularly when they are paying hefty green fees?

the 3 times i've been it was the kings that was the problem, played the queens with Bomber 69 and we stopped had a roll and straight back on the course, the kings was a hold up both times
 

Red scorpion

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Mmm strange played kings 3 times and never had a hold up at halway house,even played on a fog delayed start and course was rammed and still had a burger and straight back out in about 10 to 15mins.might need to star a new thread on slow eating in the halfway house?
 
D

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Oh no pictures Grant ? We all love pictures :cry: Load some up if you have any, can never see enough pictures:)

Nice write up tho.
 

Grant85

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At somewhere like Gleneagles it isn't as though they are short of staff or someone couldn't manage it? From memory I think the hut services the Kings and Queens course as well so one person covers both courses. It would keep the courses moving, golfers happy at the end which is the important thing. What course wants golfers to come off feeling disgruntled, particularly when they are paying hefty green fees?

I think you are right about the starter. The starter on the 1st was adamant about holding us on the 1st tee until the group 2 in front of us had teed off on the 1st. So there was effectively an entire hole in front of us, albeit we teed off 3 minutes late. But it does make a difference rather than just hitting and waiting on the 1st fairway, 2nd tee etc.

On the back 8 holes, people will likely just restart on the 11th when that green is clear. Obviously a long par 3 will take longer to clear than a par 4 and you also have a driveable par 4 at the 14th (which is where we had 3 groups on the tee, and one putting on the green). My guess is that is the hole that really backed things up.

An empty space on the tee late morning could have a surprisingly effective result, but it wouldn't matter if people weren't leaving a 10 minute gap on the 11th tee. The home stretch would likely be a problem by late afternoon most days.
 

Grant85

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Oh no pictures Grant ? We all love pictures :cry: Load some up if you have any, can never see enough pictures:)

Nice write up tho.

I only have a few.

Top image is the 5th hole from the tee.
2nd image is view from the 1st tee. Doesn't really do the green justice, which is a fair height above where you are playing from.
IMG_1757 (1).jpgIMG_1754 (1).jpg
 

Jacko_G

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Never heard Gleneagles muttered in the same breath as East Ren before!

Kings is brilliant, I played the Queens last month and it was also magnificent. We grabbed a coffee at the halfway hut and the group in front told us just to go in front of them as they were having steak pies.

Brilliant set up. Brilliant courses. If I was 50 miles closer its £3.2k well spent in my eyes for 3 top drawer courses and all the facilities.
 
D

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Due to the rain, I played on Top Tracer this week and chose Kings. I definitely recognise those greens, very distinctive! They look much better in photos than computer graphics.
 
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