Gleneagles – The King’s Course

Gleneagles – The King’s Course – April 2017 – Last year while golfing in the BIGGA Central Section Spring Outing, I met Kevin Brunton from Greentech Sportsturf and he told me to look him up when I returned to Scotland this year.

I had sent him an email from Bolivia and we arranged to tee it up at one of his member courses, Gleneagles. He suggested The King’s Course and I must say it is beautiful although Kevin’s favourite is The Queen’s Course which we will play when I return next year.

Gordon Moir was joining us for the afternoon and while we let a group through in front of us (they were part of 4 groups playing) Gordon and Kevin were doing a few stretches so I followed suit. Usually I just turn up, step up to the 1st tee and whack away.

I was lucky to be playing with not only great golfers (Gordon is a 3 handicap and Kevin a 1) but experts in their field of green keeping so I also learnt quite a bit during the round.

The 1st hole is up the hill with a big green that runs off each side. I took a few shots finding said green –  well I did find it but dropped off over the edge each time and at one stage Gordon went running to stop my ball rolling back down the front of the green but alas wasn’t quick enough. I ran down the hill and finally hit a perfectly placed pitch. After my round about hunt for the green I was happy with a 7 and we headed off to the 2nd.

The boys were pin hunting and throwing darts all day and I loved watching their precision with a club. I hope one day I can wield a club with such skill.

They have about 40 years practice on me so we will see.

The 2nd and I nailed my drive down the middle of the fairway (as I did my 1st drive) and followed up with a perfect shot that left me just off the green. My putt was about 35 feet and it stopped inches away. Gordon whacked my ball back at me and I smiled as I marked my first par on the card.

The 3rd hole has a blind second shot and while my drive was good my second shot was short of the hill and then my third shot was too far left. Kevin did tell me to aim right but perhaps I should have ran up the hill to see what I was dealing with on the other side as when I came around I was plugged in the bunker. I tried the “closed face, hit the ball as hard as you can” bunker shot advice, Craig Berry had given me earlier this week but alas it didn’t work. To be honest the bunkers have owned me so far while I have been in Scotland.

My next attempt shot the ball out and well clear of the green so a few putts and I carded a snowman. My only snowman of the day actually.

I was hitting some good balls and having a great chat with the boys. I was listening to their conversation as they caught up on mutual friends and Gordon was asking questions about various aspects of the green keeping at Gleneagles particularly on what machine may have been used for the effect on the grass in the rough on the left of the 2nd fairway. I hadn’t even noticed it until he asked the question.

I saw the course a little differently as played, considering all the unseen work that goes in to maintaining a golf course.

The 4th was another good hole with multiple proper golf shots in a row. I was very happy with the bogey I carded as there was a bit of wind and I haven’t yet mastered how to hit through the wind like Gordon seems to do so effortlessly.

I was playing some good golf. I also was struggling with the bunkers, as I was plugged well and truly on the 5th. It is a par three that I had hit a great 7 iron into the wind but was a little directionally challenged and it hit the bunker hard. It took me 3 shots to get out.

The course has awesome views in every direction and is quite the test of golf, although I was playing reasonably well. While we thought I lost my ball on the 7th as it was too far left, it turns out it must have hit the path up near the gorse and shot forward another 50 yards from where we thought it landed. While my second shot once again landed me in the bunker, a good bunker shot out and I was happy to card a double.

Kevin teed off first on the par 3, 8th then we watched Gordon’s ball roll closer and closer the pin. The boys in front were cheering from the 9th tee and I think Gordon was disappointed and yet thankful it didn’t drop. As he noted a hole in one at Gleneagles could make for an expensive day.

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Gordon picking up his near hole in one. 

After the 10th there is a mandatory 10 minute stop at the halfway house so we had a snack, Kevin and I enjoyed a spinach, potato and leek soup and then waited for the groups to get through the par 3 11th. I hit a great tee shot and carded another par.

I am not sure if I like the back nine more but the finishing holes are beautiful. The round was a little slow as it was quite busy out, so many times I stood smiling looking at the mountains, breathing in the crisp air and snapping photos.

Gordon drove the green on the 14th and we all held our breath slightly (a little poetic licence here) as he dropped his eagle putt.

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I was playing a lot better on the back nine and while my second shot was just off the green on the par 5 15th and I was in fact putting (albeit about 50 feet) for my own eagle, I miss hit my putt and pushed it far out to the left. It was still closer the hole but it was a very long birdie attempt that I just missed.

I was happy with another par on my card.

I asked a lot of questions about the course, Gleneagles and Kevin’s golf history. We chatted about his father and Stirling Golf Club (where I will also be playing with Kevin in a couple of weeks) and Kevin’s father sharing his passion with him.

Most Scots who I meet that golf, have had golf in their lives since they were very little. While Kevin was hitting a few balls here and there at 6 or 7 but only playing more seriously at 10, he is probably a late starter in Scottish terms.

I hit a fantastic tee shot on the par 3 16th and watched it hit the green and roll closer to the pin. I was still around 15 feet from the flag but was delighted as the first birdie of my 2017 Scottish trip dropped into the cup.

I had just had two 4 pointers in a row (stableford speak). I hit an good drive on the 17th but my 3 wood shot up to the left and ended up under the gorse. I had a shot – a left handed shot with my 7 iron turned backwards. Considering the depth my ball was buried in the grass, I was happy to get it out at all but it didn’t go far. I did at least have another shot and was able to get a club on it and while on the green I was quite far from the pin.

The greens on The King’s Course are very large and Kevin kept saying wait until you see the 18th green. It is a massive expanse and Gordon and Kevin told me it still has the record for the longest televised putt.

As I am relatively new to golf, I love knowledge and am continuously learning something from my playing partners each time I tee it up.

I had a wonderful round and very much enjoy Gordon and Kevin’s company and look forward to teeing it up again.

I shot 53 on the way out and 47 on the way in and as I told Kevin, if I shoot around 106 on a course I have never seen I am happy. So I was stoked with my even 100.

Post round we decided we should eat at Dormie House and all got something from the Tandoor menu. We shared the chicken, salmon and lamb and the food was divine. It was perfectly cooked and I am not sure what I liked more. I kept going round and round the plate having a bite of everything.

It was a perfect way to end a wonderful round of golf.

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