Stephen Gallacher has given his seal of approval to tasteful tweaks that have restored the King’s Course at Gleneagles to its “original glory”.
The changes, which have been made ahead of the James Braid masterpiece celebrating its 100th birthday in 2019, were welcomed by Gallacher today as he returned to the venue of his 2014 Ryder Cup appearance.
“It’s wonderful to see The King’s restored to its former glory,” said Gallacher, who was joined at the official relaunch of the iconic Perthshire course by Scotland football manager Gordon Strachan.
“As one of Scotland’s most historically important courses, it’s fantastic to get a much more authentic experience of how golf would have been played in Braid’s day.”
The restoration project, which has seen the fairways increase from 10 hectares to 14 hectares, has reversed a series of changes that were made in the late 1980s.
One of the main project objectives was to follow Braid’s philosophy of using the natural lie of the landscape to “inspire and inform” the course design.
Works to reinstate elements of the original design have included re-aligning fairways and widening greens, bringing several bunkers back into play and reinstating heather stands.
“The 9th fairway has changed dramatically and is a personal highlight for me,” added Gallacher, who played his first tournament on The King’s at the Bell’s Scottish Open in 1993
“Before the changes, most would hit straight down the middle of the fairway and all the balls would gather in the one place below the level of the green.
“Now they’ve realigned the fairway 40 yards further left, you have the option to play a short iron from the tee and have a clear view of the green with your second shot.
“I’m just a great fan of courses that go back to their routes and embrace their heritage.
“Courses nowadays are designed for technology but the great traditional golf courses like this were designed for how golf was meant to be played.”
The King’s hosted the first match between British and American professionals in 1921 in an event that was the precursor to what became the Ryder Cup .
It has also hosted a string of celebrity events over the years featuring the likes of Bing Crosby, Sir Sean Connery and Sir Jackie Stewart.
“It’s an honour to come here with Stephen to celebrate the relaunch of this historic course,” said Strachan, a keen golfer who plays off single figures.
“The return to the old layout means some shots are easier, but many shots are a lot harder.
“It’s a more traditional way of playing – if you catch the wrong side of a slope it takes the ball away, so it adds new challenges and excitement to the game.”