The Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary golf course at Gleneagles will host the 2014 Ryder Cup. (Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor) The Murrayshall Course in Perthshire has attractive white-sand bunkers, elevated tees and raised contoured greens.  (Courtesy of Murrayshall) Crieff Golf Club is a delightful hillside course that enjoys wonderful views over the Vale of Strathearn. (Courtesy photo) The 13th hole on the Queen's Course at Gleneagles Resort: a short but delicate par 3. (Brandon Tucker/GolfAdvisor) A view of the par-3 16th hole on the King's Course at at Gleneagles. (Brandon Tucker/GolfAdvisor)

Gleneagles is not the only gem in hilly, mountainous Perthshire, Scotland

Although it briefly touches both the east and west coasts, Perthshire is predominantly a mountainous county lying right in the heart of Scotland to the northwest of Edinburgh.

Consequently, the numerous golf courses scattered about its length and breadth are inland. Some are hilly, the rest are mountainous.

Already famous and about to become even more so when it hosts the 2014 Ryder Cup in September, Gleneagles is blessed with three truly wonderful courses.

The Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles is the newest and was chosen as the Ryder Cup host as it's the only one that can accommodate tens of thousands of spectators. Despite the cool temperatures and strange accents, the U.S. team should feel at home as it undoubtedly has an American feel about it.

For example, there are plenty of water hazards, elevated tees and raised contoured greens. Although it may lack the charm of its two regal neighbors, it has plenty of perfect match play holes that will provide great excitement.

Opinion is pretty evenly divided as to which of the two James Braid-designed courses is better. Gleneagles' Kings Course is longer and probably has the better views, while the Queens Course is more intimate and is generally preferred by the members. Stay in the magnificent hotel on site, play all three and make up your "order of merit."

In the Rosemount Course and Lansdowne Course, Blairgowrie has two heavenly heathland layouts. Both are lined by forests of pine and silver birch with heather, broom and gorse adding gorgeous touches of color to an already splendid setting.

That hugely powerful pairing of James Braid and Alister MacKenzie so significantly improved the then 30-year-old Rosemount Course back in the 1920s that its popularity soared and pressure for a second course resulted in the creation of Blairgowrie's Landsdowne Course in 1974. A longer and more modern course, this Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas design is tight and not terribly forgiving, but it's hugely enjoyable to play.

Located in a well forested setting close to Perth, Murrayshall also has two courses and a luxurious country house as well. The older of the two tracks, the Murrayshall Course has attractive white-sand bunkers, natural stone bridges and numerous water features, all of which contribute to a perfect parkland course with a lovely spacious feel. Hamilton Stutt, who designed it, returned 20 years after it opened to create the tighter, shorter but no less difficult Lynedoch Course.

Several world-renowned architects have had a hand in the Ferntower Course at Crieff. Old Tom Morris's original nine-hole layout was extended to 18 by Robert Simpson just before World War I.

Then in the 1920s along came James Braid to carry out further improvements. Rather sadly, perhaps, the creation of another nine-hole course in 1980 and extensive alterations to the Ferntower mean not that much of the master's work survived. That said, this delightful hillside course enjoys wonderful views over the Vale of Strathearn and has enormous appeal.

The town of Pitlochry is surrounded by pretty hills, upon one of which you will find the truly lovely Pitlochry Course. Willie Fernie of Troon laid it out in 1908 and presented players with a stiffish climb over the opening few holes.

Be sure to enjoy the purity of the mountain air as you breathe in deeply. Don't worry too much as the terrain soon flattens out and the views from the top certainly make the effort well worthwhile.

As you look out from beneath Ben Y Vrackie, savor the sweeping views down the Tummel Valley. From here on the slopes are not too severe and, should you go into any, you might care to note the bunkers contain quartz sand.

Feb 19, 2014

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Clive Agran


Although in his 60s, with a handicap of 15 and lifetime earnings comfortably below $100, Clive Agran nevertheless still believes he can win a major. Arguably England's most gifted golf writer, when not dreaming of glory he's scouring the globe simultaneously searching for lost balls and great golf courses. Follow Clive on Twitter at @cliveagran.