Scottish Golf Courses

King's Course to go back in time

Gleneagles announces exciting plans to restore some ‘original features’ to famous Braid course

By Michael McEwan

The Gleneagles Hotel is undertaking a series of improvements to the King’s Course, which will include the reinstatement of a number of its original design features.

The King’s Course opened to the public in 1919, having been designed by five-time Open champion James Braid. It is widely considered to be one of his finest inland projects but, over the years, some of its key characteristics have been modified to appeal to different playing styles.

The new programme of improvements - which includes re-aligning selected fairways back to Braid’s design, bringing several bunkers back into play, and reinstating heather stands around the course - will see many of these tweaks reversed and a range of course features restored to their original glory.

Scott Fenwick, Golf Courses and Estate Manager, explained: “Essentially, we’re bringing the King’s Course back closer to Braid’s original vision. We’ll widen the approaches to some of the green complexes to enable traditional pitch and run shots to be played; reintroduce tighter mown turf on green surrounds; and re-shape the bunkers and raise the sand lines. All of this should make for a more authentic experience.

“Back when Braid was building the course, he had to rely on hand mowers and earth scrapers pulled by horses. Thankfully, technology has moved on a lot since then and we have a team of 52 greenkeepers to call on, as well as contractors with the latest equipment, to help us make these changes quickly before the season gets underway.”  

Several other improvements are being made to the course, including the installation of the latest bunker drainage and lining technology, as well as an extensive aeration and sanding programme.

Gary Silcock, Gleneagles’ Director of Golf, called that the work ‘another strand of our ongoing multi-million pound investment programme in Gleneagles’ golf courses’, which will complement
the investment made in recent years on the King’s fairway and green drainage system.

“As the improvements are beginning to take shape, we’ve found the greens have firmed up,” added Silcock. “We’re particularly proud that even the exceptional weather last summer, which was the wettest on record for the area, made little dent on play, with the King’s Course remaining open for all but two hours.  

“Now we’re working on the approaches to the greens and utilising the latest technology - installing new drains and a capillary concrete liner in all of the bunkers - to help us present the course in the best possible condition throughout the year in all weather conditions.
“This, along with the design changes we’re making to The King’s, means the ‘playability’ of this classic Braid course will be even better in 2016.”

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