Ryder Cup: McGinley highlights key holes at Gleneagles

European Captain Paul McGinley helps us examine Gleneagles' PGA Centenary - a course that guarantees matchplay thrills

There are few more evocative venues at which to stage a Ryder Cup than Gleneagles. 

It is one of the iconic names in golf – indeed, it is very possibly the most revered destination that hasn’t hosted a Major championship. 

And with no chance of the Perthshire resort ever hosting the Open, it is very fitting that Gleneagles should get an event of similar – if not, in actual fact, considerably greater – standing.

The matches will be played on the PGA Centenary, one of three 18-hole courses at the resort. The King’s and the Queen’s both pre-date the Ryder Cup’s host having been laid out by the legendary James Braid in the early 1930s. 

But while the PGA Centenary lacks for a bit of their charm and certainly their pedigree, it has an equally celebrated designer – Jack Nicklaus. 

The American incorporated the old Monarch’s course in his layout, much of which sits on the other side of the road into the resort.

It has undergone a few nips and tucks down the years, notably at one point by local man turned superstar designer David McLay Kidd, but Nicklaus was brought back to refresh it ahead of the matches.

As well as remodelling some holes, it is now one of the most technologically advanced in Europe. 

Even Scotland’s most inclement weather will be rebuffed by the PGA Centenary, a track that will perhaps be shown at its best during a matchplay contest. 

Now, Paul McGinley helps us look at some of its notable holes

1st hole

442 yards, par 4

The hole: Its name means ’fern hill’ and the ideal drive is down the left to open up the angled green, which is slightly raised above the fairway and bunkered at the front and back. 

McGinley says: The bigger hitters will hit 3 wood and the normal hitters will go with their  driver. You can actually hit it too far as there is a hazard down the right-hand side and it is 310 yards to reach this. 
But depending on the conditions on the first morning, given cool air and a relatively soft course, I’d expect to see a lot of drivers. 

When the players get on the 1st tee my job is pretty much done and I can’t really affect what then happens. I’ll really try to keep things simple. As a player I didn’t really notice who was watching. You are so caught up in your own game you might not spot the captain. 

5th HOLE
461 yards, par 4

The hole: The bold shot is up the left to help you find the green’s narrow entrance.

McGinley says: This is probably my favourite hole. you need to slightly draw the tee shot and hit over a hazard into a really nice target set in a hill.

6th HOLE
201 yards, par 3

The hole: There is a bunker on the left of the narrow, sloping green.

McGinley says: I won’t pass on information on par 3s. I really trust the players and caddies; they are well used to changing wind. Too much information can confuse.

16th Hole

543 yards, par 5

The hole: To reach in two you need to clear the loch (hence its name) in front of a green that has a slight step in the back left corner and small but key undulations.

McGinley says: It is an exciting finish with a par 5, par 3 and par 5. The 16th is over water and normally played into the prevailing wind – so there is a big onus on hitting the fairway.

17th hole
194 yards, par 3

The hole: Its name translates as ’Be careful’, hinting at the ease with which a bogey can be made on this innocuous-looking hole. The safe line is right of centre of a green which has a ridge in it, adding to the difficult of long putting. 

McGinley says: The 17th normally plays into the wind and can be a 5 iron to a back pin or a 7 iron to the front. 

18th HOLE
533 yards, par 5

The hole: A dog-leg right to a well-bunkered, narrow, angled undulating green. Easy!

McGinley says: The 18th is a tiny target and short by modern standards – so you must hit the fairway as there are lots of run-offs on either side. I would say the 18th is one of the tougher holes; it is pretty tight and pretty hard to hit the green from the rough. It is one of the many opportunities to turn around a two-hole deficit late on.

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