One of the greatest players in professional golf history, Lee Trevino, famously said of Gleneagles: “If heaven is as good as this, I sure hope they have some tee times left.”
When The Gleneagles Hotel first opened its doors in 1924, this magnificent countryside estate in the heart of Scotland was described as a ‘Riviera in the Highlands’.
Today, Gleneagles is not only one of the world’s most prestigious golfing venues, with three championship golf courses – the King’s, Queen’s and PGA Centenary – it is a glorious playground for all ages to discover. Attractions include the five-star luxury hotel, an award-winning spa and the only restaurant in Scotland to hold two Michelin stars.
Set in 850 acres with outstanding views of the Ochil hills, the Perthshire estate was voted Best Golf Resort in the World for an unprecedented sixth successive year in 2017 by readers of Ultratravel, the Telegraph’s luxury travel magazine. It was also named Scotland’s Best Hotel/Resort in the Today’s Golfer Travel Awards 2017, retaining this title for the fourth consecutive year.
The Gleneagles golf courses, although not by the sea, resemble the older links golf courses in Scotland in that they are built on sand and gravel, which were deposited when the last ice sheet finally melted some 15,000 years ago, leaving long ridges, flat-topped mounds and enclosed hollows. James Braid, one of the golfing greats, turned this dramatic landscape into the King’s and Queen’s Courses, creating an idyllic golfing landscape.
The Jack Nicklaus designed PGA Centenary Course – he famously called it “the finest parcel of land in the world I have ever been given to work with” – was the venue for the 2014 Ryder Cup. It will also host the world’s first ever joint men’s and women’s competition, the European Golf Team Championships, in 2018, followed by the largest event in women’s golf, The Solheim Cup, in 2019.
With nearly 1000 people employed across the estate, training and development is key to ensuring that all the staff understand the responsibility they have in continuing the Gleneagles legacy. This is reflected in a new Greenkeeping Scholarship programme, offering nine lucky individuals the chance to become fully qualified greenkeepers, and ensure the knowledge held by the senior greenkeepers is passed onto the next generation.
Golf Courses and Estate Manager Scott Fenwick, who is Gleneagles’ longest-serving member of staff, joined in July 1980 as a 16-year-old apprentice greenkeeper. Scott, whose first tasks in those early days were raking bunkers and learning how to operate the mowers, now leads Gleneagles’ 57-strong greenkeeping and gardening team.
“I had a dream of becoming a professional golfer, but that was never going to happen, and I realised a career in greenkeeping was a superb way to still be involved in the sport,” he says. “Over the years, greenkeeping has given me the chance to travel all over the world, because it’s a profession that provides so many different opportunities.”
“Greenkeeping is not just about cutting grass – it’s a complex science and a serious art. Presenting championship courses demands great skill, knowledge and tremendous attention to detail, to create the firm and fast conditions the modern day golfer expects. It’s hard work, but it’s also rewarding to be part of a big team to deliver courses that are respected all over the world.”
Greenkeeping is not just about cutting grass – it’s a complex science and a serious art.
“Gleneagles is proud of its leadership position in golf and is always seeking innovations, best practice and first class customer service, to provide our guests and members with an outstanding experience that is second to none.”
“A key part of this is in finding the right balance between traditional greenkeeping methods, using the knowledge and experience we have built up over many years, and developing the most efficient ways of working using reliable, cutting edge technology.”
“The adoption of hybrid electric mowers, satellite guidance and telematics fleet management systems dedicated to turfcare, such as those provided by John Deere through its dealer network, means we can look forward to keeping Gleneagles at the forefront of European and world golf.”