GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) Course architect Jack Nicklaus gives his hole-by-hole assessment of the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles Resort, site of the 40th Ryder Cup matches on Sept. 26-28:
No. 1, 426 yards, par 4: The first hole at Gleneagles is slightly downhill and a slight dogleg to the right. There’s a bunker on the right side of the fairway, which should not present a great problem for most of the players in the Ryder Cup. However, if you hit the ball in the rough, the green is a relatively narrow one protected by a bunker in the front and a grass hollow behind it.
No. 2, 516 yards, par 5: This has an elevated tee shot, and doglegs left around a bunker on the left side of the fairway. It is protected on the left side of the green with bunkers and a pond. Over the green is a deep grass hollow. Most of the competitors will reach the green in two. So this hole presents a very good birdie chance for most of the players, and there will be a fair number of eagle possibilities here.
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No. 3, 431 yards, par 4: A dogleg right, with an elevated tee shot. Bunkers protect the right side of the fairway. The second shot is slightly uphill. The green is protected in the front by two bunkers. This is a good, solid par 4. The loch on the left was filled during construction and was incorporated into the design.
No. 4, 211 yards, par 3: The longest of all the par 3s. It can play up to 239 yards. I’m sure that both tee options will be used here, depending on how much excitement they want to create in the matches. It is protected by a little pot bunker short right and a bunker to the left of the green. The ball feeds in a bit from the right. It’s a good, long par 3 that requires an accurate tee shot.
No. 5, 461 yards, par 4: A very narrow tee shot, protected on both sides by trees and hills, this hole has a bog mire – a Site of Scientific Interest – short of the green and a bunker left of the green. This is one of the more difficult holes on the golf course, and probably the No. 1 handicap hole. It’s a beautiful golf hole, just relatively difficult especially with the prevailing wind against you.
No. 6, 201 yards, par 3: This par 3 can play to just over 200 yards. There is a bunker on the left side of the green, and a wetland – sort of an exiting pond – short of the green. This hole requires a very accurate tee shot. There is a little bit of bailout out to the right, which will actually help feed the ball a little bit into the green. Back left will be a difficult hole location to get to on this green.
No. 7, 468 yards, par 4: This hole doglegs right. The tee shot is slightly elevated and plays into a nice valley. The approach is into a green tucked in against the hillside on the right and drops off on the left. This hole simply requires two good, solid shots. Nothing tricky about the hole; it just requires good golf.
No. 8, 419 yards, par 4: This hole presents players options. A great majority of the players will play the ball out to the right, trying to get a good view into the green. The green is protected by bunkers on both sides. However, there will be certain conditions that might lead players to try to drive it over the four bunkers on the left side, attempting to shorten the hole down to a short sand wedge into the green. So there is an option for players. I’m sure that some will take the option to take the bunkers out of play; however, I think the great majority will probably play the ball out into the fairway and hit a middle-to-short iron into the green.
No. 9, 618 yards, par 5: A very pretty hole, which begins with a demanding tee shot – an elevated tee shot with two ponds to play between, hillsides, bunker on the right, and bunkers long on the left. The second shot presents a choice of what you want to do. Do you want to take the ball and play it conservatively out to the left of the pond, or do you want to try to take it at the green? Even though the hole plays over 600 yards, I’m sure that under certain conditions a number of players will take it at the green. Many of them will play it out left to get the proper angle to play down the length of the green. A good hole, and a very, very pretty hole.
No. 10, 208 yards, par 3: An exciting short hole with an elevated tee shot that plays down the hill. There is a little pot bunker on the left and a bunker to the right. This hole requires just a good, solid tee shot. Nothing fancy. I’m sure that the elements, when the wind is blowing, will affect the tee shot as the ball falls a great distance from a tee that is very exposed.
No. 11, 350 yards, par 4: A short par 4 where you drive the ball out to the left with probably an iron or a metal wood. It plays across a ravine, with water that flows through it, to a green sitting on the side of a hill. There will be a lot of birdies here.
No. 12, 445 yards, par 4: You have to make up your mind on the tee shot how much you want to bite off on the left side, as it plays over dunes. There are bunkers on the right side that frame the hole. A long tee shot here will provide a fairly simple but demanding second shot, with a little pot bunker that protects the left front of the green and a small bunker at the back right. I think this is one of the nicest holes on the golf course.
No. 13, 481 yards, par 4: There are a variety of lines you could take on your tee shot, which is relatively level, then the hole goes down into a little valley in front of the green. The green sits in a hill. It’s a very demanding hole, one where the wind will play a great factor in how you play the hole. A little thought on behalf of the players will have to take place here to play this hole properly.
No. 14, 320 yards, par 4: Quite possibly a drivable par 4. It is set up to be so. There are some key bunkers on the right side that you have to carry, if you want to get it to the green, which is the smallest on the course. They sit about 280 yards off the tee. There are two bunkers on the left side of the fairway, which you must play inside. I’m not sure whether everybody will try to drive this green or try to play it just short and hit sand wedge in. There are certainly a lot of options here.
No. 15, 463 yards, par 4: There is a nice bunker on the right side of the fairway, and the hole drops off on the left side of the fairway. Very pretty tee shot, as is the second shot. The second shot plays downhill into a long, narrow green that is bunkered well on the right side. It’s a good, strong hole, and it sits at a place in the match where a lot of times this hole will be won with a par. It should be one of the pivotal holes.
No. 16, 518 yards, par 5: There is a bunker in the center of the fairway, which should not be an issue. But there are also bunkers on the right side, which will be an issue. A good drive here will put a player in position to play over the pond that sits well short of the green into a landing area or into the green. It’s a par 5 that a lot of the players will reach in two. Matter of fact, most all of the players will. A lot of birdies and eagle possibilities.
No. 17, 194 yards, par 3: The final par 3 is slightly downhill. It is very well bunkered – left, right and back. Here is a hole where I think coming as it will toward the end of a match, a very accurate tee shot will be required and could be very well rewarded.
No. 18, 514 yards, par 5: This can be played as a par 5 or a par 4. I think it’s a really nice, short par 5, or a strong par 4 that plays up the hill, into the wind. Great amphitheater around the green, with a great gallery situation here. I think the players will take a run at this one. Nevertheless, if they are too aggressive and go through the green to the left, they will leave themselves a very awkward chip shot from a deep valley. The hole is well bunkered short of the green. It’s a great viewing hole and hopefully many of the matches will reach this far.