David Brice, CEO of Golf International, reviews destinations on PGATOUR.COM that can be experienced by purchasing a package with Golf international, a leading provider of high-end international golf travel. For more information about this trip or any other of Golf International's destination trips, click here.
Among the world's distinguished golf resorts, a few names standout as being in a class entirely of their own. These are the creme de la creme golf pleasure havens where plush accommodations, fine restaurants and a wide choice of off-course diversions, combine with true championship courses, to form a complete luxury experience -- but golf remains King.
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Scotland's fabled Gleneagles, a palatial gem, dating from the 1920's, may be the epitome of such sanctuaries and certainly sits up there among the very best of the world's most prestigious retreats. A stay here comes with several guarantees -- it will be unabashedly luxurious; it will permit you to play three of Scotland's most magnificent moorland layouts, and despite all of the grandeur and impeccable service, the Gleneagles experience remains unpretentious, extremely friendly, warm and accommodating. It's a slice of all that makes Scotland so alluring, genuine Scottish hospitality included.
Gleneagles also enables guests to live the life of the country laird for a few days, enjoying everything from horseback-riding, to shooting, falconry, fishing, archery, off-road driving and a myriad of other non-golfing activities. Instruction is available if needed for the novice, together with any necessary special clothing and equipment.
The five restaurants offer an impressive range of dining possibilities, from the informal to the very plush, Andrew Fairlie restaurant, Scotland's only eatery boasting two Michelin stars. And for those who may yearn for a little pampering, The Spa at Gleneagles ranks alongside the very best.
Splendidly situated on its own private estate of 850 glorious acres of some of the most stunning scenery to be found in a country filled with spectacular landscapes, it's difficult to imagine Edinburgh and Glasgow are both less than an hour's drive away. Conveniently located and with so much to offer, it's golf at Gleneagles that is the irresistible attraction for any with an affection for the Royal & Ancient Game.
There are three courses in all, The Kings, The Queens and The PGA Centenary - Gleneagles is above all a golf resort and quite an exceptional one at that.
It all started before the First World War when the accomplished Scottish architect and 5 time British Open Champion, James Braid was brought in to survey the land for possible development as one or two golf courses. It wasn't until 1919 that The Kings and Queens Courses opened for play and instant acclaim -- Braid had designed a pair of outstanding layouts.
Gleneagles would satisfy itself with these two championship layouts for more than half a century, until the burgeoning interest in golf and a subsequent over-demand from golfers to play the courses, made expansion a necessity.
The first addition was The Princes Course, opened in 1974, then came The Glendevon Course in 1980. Their lives came to an early end when both fell victim to progress - they were eliminated to make way for the Jack Nicklaus designed Monarchs Course, which opened in 1993. The Monarchs name was later changed to PGA Centenary.
Play any one or all three Gleneagles courses and you are in for a golfing experience to be remembered. But to make the experience complete, a stay in the hotel is a must. This will not be an inexpensive venture, so spoil yourself, bite the bullet and live in the lap of luxury for a few of days.
Of the three courses, The Kings remains the winner it has been since 1919 -- my personal opinion, but most seem to agree. Braid, always the technician, truly came up with a masterpiece that has withstood the test of 93 years of time. Brimming with character, this moorland course is about as Scottish as any course can be. Magnificently crafted from the landscape, the track winds its way through trees, shrubs and an astounding landscape of brilliant colors, rolling hills and stunning vistas. No two holes are alike and with Braid's penchant for shrewd bunkering, club selection and accuracy are always important. Measuring 6,790 yards from the tips, the Kings Course is a worthy champion and ready for the best.
Sharing the same magical surroundings as its big brother, The Queens Course was originally laid out by Braid with the lady golfer in mind, but that shouldn't deter anyone from playing it. This is a shorter and kinder course, though it contains some very demanding holes where only the most talented are likely to succeed. Water in the form of brooks, a meandering burn and some small lakes appear as additional hazards on The Queens, adding to the interest.
Truth is, if this course was located anyplace else away from the shadow of The Kings, it would receive far more acclaim than is the case. The Queens is well worth playing and shouldn't be missed.
Created specifically as a venue for championship golf, The PGA Centenary Course seems to have also been built with the American golfer in mind. Whether that is good or bad is very much a matter of personal preference, so play 'em all then make your own choices.
Whether this is your cup of tea or not doesn't detract from the spectacular setting enjoyed by The Centenary and the sense of grandeur it evokes, befitting its role as the venue for the 2014 Ryder Cup Matches, The Centenary is likely to be around for a long time to come. The argument over which of the three is Gleneagles' best course can continue for a few more generations at least.
If you would like to incorporate Gleneagles and other top ranked Scottish courses into your golf itinerary, contact the Scotland experts at Golf International by calling toll-free, 1 (800) 833-1389, or click here.
©2012 David Brice / Golf International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Golf International -- Providers of quality golf travel arrangements since 1988.