Following the decision to award the 2014 Ryder Cup to Gleneagles and its PGA Centenary Course, there were concerns that the Jack Nicklaus layout, which was originally opened for play in 1993, would struggle to defend itself against the world’s best golfers who now have the advantage of modern technology in the form of big headed drivers and balls that go forever.
Rather than waiting to see what happened, Gleneagles, in consultation with Nicklaus himself, decided to carry out extensive course modifications which saw the resort’s 3rd golf course close for play from October 2011.
While this didn’t stop the golfing masses flocking to this great venue, which also boasts the charming Queen’s Course, the world class King’s Course and one of the finest hotels anywhere in the world, April the 28th saw the PGA Centenary reopen for play. This has allowed golf enthusiasts the chance to experience the future Ryder Cup course for themselves in the two-year run-up to the match between the best from the USA and Europe.
The PGA Centenary’s 1st hole – How much has changed since this was taken?
Nicklaus, in recent interviews, has stated that he is more than happy with the work that has gone into revamping the 2014 Ryder Cup venue at Gleneagles and is confident the course will now be an important part of golf’s marquee event.
After playing the revamped course on Wednesday, the 18-time Major winner said: “The golf course, first of all, was not meant to be the toughest golf course in the world. It was a golf course for Gleneagles and its hotel and guests.
“When I was asked to do the course more than 20 years ago, in those days it was a pretty challenging golf course.
“With the equipment and the golf ball and everything going so much further, it needed alterations.
“I would prefer golf balls being altered personally but until that happens; alterations need to happen to golf courses.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a golf course that breaks the back, it’s not meant to be that.
“There are plenty of opportunities for birdies – birdies are exciting in the Ryder Cup- but it also makes you play golf.
“It’s more about being a good test and a good place to have an event than breaking your back.”
As with the other courses at Gleneagles, the 2014 Ryder Cup host course is a real thing of beauty.
Perhaps the greatest example of just how much work has gone into the changes on the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles is that of the par 5 18th, a hole that frankly would have been butchered by the game’s best players.
Eight new bunkers, a new elevated tee and a remodelled final 250 yards that includes a lowered fairway and a brand new green have been added to the finishing hole and further changes are apparent all over the course.
“The 18th hole was the biggest change,” Nicklaus said. “We dropped the green five or six metres and created an amphitheatre.
“It’s not a very difficult hole but it’s exciting, there will be birdies and eagles and bogies on it and you’re going to get shots that change hands.”
The par 5 16th should play a key role at the Ryder Cup. With players going for the green in two and water guarding the front of the green, we could see as many bogies as eagles and birdies!
Although he relished the challenge of revamping the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles in preparation for the 2014 Ryder Cup, The Golden Bear believes priorities should be shifted towards reigning in golf ball technology that has created a necessity for redesigning championship golf courses.
“It costs very little to adjust the golf ball but you look at what’s happening at all these golf courses.
“Why not design a golf course then design a ball for that course?”
Whatever happens in the future concerning course vs. ball redesign we are keen to hop on a flight to Scotland and have another pop at the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles. We loved it first time out and can’t wait to see how the Ryder Cup change have taken effect.