PERTHSHIRE, Scotland -- My tweet proclaiming Pitlochry Golf Course the "best course in the world ... under 6,000 yards" might or might not be accurate. I haven't played too many par-69 courses that are only 5,692 yards long, but I can't image a more interesting layout in such a sublime setting anywhere else in the world.
Perhaps its toughest competition for this mythical title is an hour away: the Queen's Course at Gleneagles, a 5,926-yard, par-68 course designed by James Braid in 1917. Where I believe Pitlochry trumps the Queen's Course is the personality of its holes.
Pitlochry has more drivable par 4s (3 to 1), a cool punchbowl green at no. 10 and a series of wild climbs that add character and toughness to a handful of holes. The first three holes will take your breath away -- literally. Walking up these three par 4s is a chore, even for the fittest golfer. The views of the surrounding countryside on higher ground is worth this effort.
Most short courses have goofy spots or feel hemmed in. Pitlochry has none of that, although some first-timers might not like the daunting approach shot to a hilltop green on no. 5 or the blind tee shot on no. 9.
The day finishes at a charming red-roofed clubhouse that locals love for its quality food. If you looked up the term "hidden gem" in a golf dictionary, there most certainly would be a picture of Pitlochry.