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The King’s Course

The King's Course, opened in 1919, is a masterpiece of golf course design, which has tested the aristocracy of golf, both professional and amateur. James Braid's plan for the King's Course was to test even the best players' shot-making skills over the eighteen holes. You find out all about it with your first approach shot. If you have driven straight and long from the tee, you will have what looks like a simple pitch to the elevated green. But you must be sure to select the correct club, because the shot is always a little longer than you think, with the wind over the putting surface often stronger than you can feel it from the fairway.

 

And if you do not make the severely sloping green, a bunker yawns twenty feet below. Selecting the right club for each approach shot is the secret on the King's. It is certainly one of the most beautiful and exhilarating places to play golf in the world, with the springy moorland turf underfoot, the sweeping views from the tees all around, the rock-faced mountains to the north, the green hills to the south, and the peaks of the Trossachs and Ben Vorlich on the western horizon. Readers of Celebrated Living, the luxury magazine for American Airlines, voted the King's Course 6th in their Platinum list of International Golf Courses. 

 

All the holes have evocative and pithy Scots names. For example, the fifth, "Het Girdle" (Hot Pan), is a challenging par 3 with trouble everywhere except on the green, while 17th's name, "Warslin' Lea" (Wrestling Ground), reflects the difficulty so many golfers have had with this long, sweeping par 4.

 

 

Virtual Course Tour

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Hole 1. Dun Whinny

 

Whin is the Scots word for furze or gorse and dun is from the Gaelic word for hill. Hence the name refers to the bush covered slopes around the green.

TEE SHOT
The tee shot should be aimed to the right of the centre of the fairway as this gives the best approach to the raised green.

APPROACH
Choice of club is important to carry the huge trap in front with sufficient strength to avoid any risk of running back.

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Hole 2. East Neuk

 

Neuk is the Scots word for corner (similar to the English “nook”) and this hole reaches the most easterly point on the course.

TEE SHOT
The tee shot should be centre right to open up the approach shot.

APPROACH
The approach shot should be held to the right of the pin.

GREEN
The green is unusually very fast and slopes from right to left. Keep the second shot to the right side of the pin. Try to land short and it should run forward.

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Hole 3. Silver Tassie

 

Many words derived from French are found in the Scots’ vocabulary because of the “Auld Alliance” between the countries in former times. Tassie is from tasse meaning cup, the name refers to the cup-shaped hollow in which the green is found and the nearby silver birch trees.

TEE SHOT
There is a plan of the pin placement on the tee. A drive to the right side of the fairway will give the best stance for the blind approach shot.

APPROACH
If the pin is on the front level, an approach shot carrying just over the ridge will run forward and finish near the hole. If the pin is on the back level, at least two or three clubs more will be required.

GREEN
The green has two tiers and a very steep slope between the tiers. Leaving a long putt could prove to be hazardous.

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Hole 4. Broomy Law

 

Broomy Law or hill of broom refers to the broom bushes on the ridge along the right of the hole.

TEE SHOT
The drive must avoid the first bunker on the right, but try to keep your tee shot up that side of the fairway.

APPROACH
Keep your second shot well to the right-hand side because the ground falls away very sharply on the left.

GREEN
The green has a gradual slope rising from the front to the back.

4

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Hole 5. Het Girdle

 

Het Girdle means hot griddle or skillet. The implication is that just as oil may slide off the hot plate so may the imperfectly struck shot slip off this green.

TEE SHOT
Parts of the teeing ground are not set squarely facing towards the green, so be sure to check that you line up properly. There is no room for error in approaching this well-protected plateau green.

APPROACH
This green is long and narrow with a decided upward slope from front to back. There is no safe side, but it is advisable to finish short of the pin, leaving an uphill putt.

GREEN
This green is long and narrow with a decided upward slope from front to back. There is no safe side, but it is advisable to finish short of the pin, leaving an uphill putt.

5

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Hole 6. Blink Bonnie

 

Blink Bonnie can be explained as beautiful view or glimpse of beauty – an apt description for a handsome hole.

TEE SHOT
The ideal tee shot here would finish around the slight saddle where the fairway is at its narrowest, but you should avoid being too far left.

APPROACH
The approach shot should be kept to the right-hand side of the pin and try to land just short of the green.

GREEN
There are three gentle steps on this green. The ball will run forward from the front.

6

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Hole 7. Kittle Kink

 

Kittle Kink or tricky bend is an appropriate name for this hole with its pronounced dog leg.

TEE SHOT
The tee shot must clear the ridge in order to see the green for your second shot. The further left you aim, the longer the carry which is necessary to achieve this.

APPROACH
After a good drive, the approach shot probably needs a club more than you first think. None of the trouble on this hole is at the back – another good reason not to be short.

GREEN
A long, deceiving green. Straight forward putting surface, but with a lot of subtle borrows

7

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Hole 8. Whaup's Nest

 

The name means curlew’s nest and this refers to the way the green nestles down among the heather-clad slopes.

TEE SHOT
The best policy here is to err slightly towards the left of the green, if anything, and to take too much club rather than too little.

APPROACH
If the pin is on the front level, an approach shot carrying just over the ridge will run forward and finish near the hole. If the pin is on the back level, at least two or three clubs more will be required.

GREEN
The green has a pronounced slope from left to right and if you are on the left side it leaves you with an uphill putt.

8

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Hole 9. Heich o'Fash

 

Height of trouble is an apt description of what awaits if this hole is badly played.

TEE SHOT
The tee shot down into the valley should be kept to the left, as this area not only gives the best line into the green, but is also more likely to provide a level stance from which to play the approach shot.

APPROACH
If the pin is on the front level, an approach shot carrying just over the ridge will run forward and finish near the hole. If the pin is on the back level, at least two or three clubs more will be required.

GREEN
Your shot to the green should be aimed right of the pin.

9

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Hole 10. Canty Lye

 

Canty can be expressed as pleasant or cheerful and lye is similar to the English lea together making pleasant meadow.

TEE SHOT
The tee shot should be kept left of centre, but be careful not to go too far left as the ground slopes away steeply.

APPROACH
The approach shot from a well-positioned tee shot is to a green which is heavily bunkered, left and right.

GREEN
Usually one of the fastest greens on the course and slopes from left to right.

10

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Hole 11. Deil's Creel

 

The devil’s fishing basket.

TEE SHOT
The bunkers at front left and right will tend to gather the ball that might otherwise run on to the green, so it is especially important to be up. You should also remember the length of the green and take a stronger club than might appear necessary. The best line is to the left side of the green.

GREEN
A large green sloping from back to front. Very fast near the front of the green.

11

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Hole 12. Tappit Hen

 

A tappit hen is an old Scots pewter ale or wine measure. These often had a lid in the form of a tappit or crested hen. The name of the hole derives from the clump of trees crowning the highest point on the course which is directly behind the green.

TEE SHOT
The tee shot is blind over the ridge and should be kept to the left centre of the fairway. This line opens up the second shot to a well-protected green.

APPROACH
All the trouble here is at the front so make sure not to be short.

GREEN
The green slopes from front to back on the right side behind the bunker. On the left side the slope is not quite so severe. Fast from front to back.

12

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Hole 13. Braid's Brawest

 

Braid’s best. James Braid always signed his name to the hole he considered the best when he designed a course. This is the one he chose at Gleneagles.

TEE SHOT
Keep you tee shot to the centre or right of the fairway to avoid the looming threat of the Auld Nick bunker.

APPROACH
The green slopes away from the front right corner so your shot to the green should be aimed to the right of the pin. Make sure you are up and past the pin to leave an uphill putt.

GREEN
The green slopes from front to back and left to right. From the back of the green, hit putts firmly.

13

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Hole 14. Denty Den

 

The dainty or pleasant dell or, in the words of an early guide to the course, “an idyll of sylvan beauty.”

TEE SHOT
Play over the second bunker from the left if you are long enough to be close in one. This line also gives the best line for the approach shot. Take more club than you think. All the bunkers are short and left.

GREEN
Very difficult green to pick the right line. Big slope from right to left when the pin is placed at the right of the green. Back right is the most difficult pin placement.

14

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Hole 15. Howe o' Hope

 

The valley or hollow of hope.

TEE SHOT
The tee shot should be aimed on or left of the marker post to have the best line to approach the green.

APPROACH
A good firm approach shot and your ball, with any luck, will run forward nicely to the pin. Leave the ball past the pin and you will have an uphill putt.

GREEN
A two-tier green, with the back being the lower tier, also slopes from left to right.

15

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Hole 16. Wee Bogle

 

The little goblin or ghost.

TEE SHOT
The selection of bunkers around the green and the steep slope falling off at the back all stand ready to punish the wayward shot.

GREEN
Tough green to pick the correct line. It slopes from back to front. Very fast from left to right.

16

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Hole 17. Warslin' Lea

 

Warslin’ can mean struggling or wrestling. Thus Warslin’ Lea or perhaps troublesome valley fairly describes the hole with the narrowest fairway on the course.

TEE SHOT
The slight dogleg and the left-to-right slope of the fairway together suggests that the best line for the tee shot is down the left. The tee shot is very tight and you may wish to consider an iron for the sake of accuracy.

APPROACH
Your approach shot must be up. Make sure you have enough club and avoid the difficult bunkers short and to the right.

GREEN
The green has a slope up from the front to the centre. From here it levels out.

17

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Hole 18. King's Hame

 

The home hole and time perhaps to relax in the hotel or The Dormy Clubhouse.

TEE SHOT
If you can carry the ridge you will probably roll forward to be within range for your second shot. Otherwise you should probably treat the hole as a comfortable par 5.

APPROACH
The green is very large with at least two clubs difference between front and back. No prizes for being short. 

GREEN
The largest green on the course with a ridge running across from left to right. The front of the green slopes uphill to the centre and it levels out on the back left. The front half is fast with severe borrows. The back half is much flatter with more subtle slopes.

18

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