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  • Neil White

Gleneagles - Queen's

Updated: May 3

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"We've changed to the white tees rather than yellows today because the Queen's is much shorter than the King's."

Our two-day competition organiser spoke with sound logic but probably had yet to consider the drop in temperature and increase in wind speeds from the previous day.

Spoiler Alert: Mrs W and I coped with neither, and our three-stroke overnight lead evaporated like a puddle in a heatwave.

That was more due to our ineptitude than his choice of tees or any issues with Queen's course.

However, the starter correctly predicted that the par-four, slight dogleg opening hole would be "unreachable in two today."

It also provides a fair warning for the rest of the round that steep fall-offs will be the hallmark of the Queen's.

The most exaggerated of these are on the par-three second on the left and right of a large bowl target rising from the heavily bunkered front.

On a calm day, I suspect this is innocuous but with the breeze freshening, none of our fourball found the green.

Despite the course being short by championship standards (there are five par-threes and only one par-five), there are no giveaways, especially against the wind.

The par-four third, fourth and sixth all run alongside the estate with out-of-bounds on the right and strategically placed bunkers ready to gobble up the greedy. A par on either on this day would have been very impressive.

The Queen's interest rises from the par-five seventh onwards, with each hole presenting memorable challenges.

The seventh is a gentle dogleg to a green at the end of a copse down the right-hand side. Those who are too greedy may find trees or one of the greenside bunkers but bailing out left is even more likely to find sand.

My passion for short par-fours was sated by the eighth, which, downwind from 327 yards, requires only a short pitch to find the putting surface.

However, its bite is on a rapid green that quickly falls away from front to back and swirls.

It is followed by a belting par-four ninth, a ninety-degree dogleg around a high wooded area into a green hidden by a hump with a bunker on the left. 

Even those who find the target in regulation face subtle borrows that may rob the player of par.

The 10th is a love-it-or-hate-it, strategic par-four with bunkers down the left. They cut off an approach to a sunken green hidden beyond trees and a mound.

I doubt many people played it well the first time, so I would like to try it again.

The 12th hole produced a comedy moment as I hit a decent drive over the brow of a hill, slipped on the wet fairway, and tumbled over with my cart.

The descent towards the green is steep but I shouldn't have been so clumsy.

Thus, I was drenched as I took on the quirky section of the course with two consecutive par-threes.

The 13th is short, with water on the right, and the 14th is uphill to a two-tiered green with deep bunkers in front and to the left.

But the 15th is where we blew our chances of glory. This curving, ascending par-four lures in the player because it is only 252 yards.

With the wind behind, I went for it but, inevitably, found sand in front of the green. A modicum of sense would have seen me place the tee shot with a mid-iron.

The very tricky par-three 17th is left to right into a green on the side of a hill. Too far to the left are trees and bushes. Meanwhile, anything short will see the ball amble down the steep slope.

I nudged the ball in from the perfect angle and was thrilled with a two.

The 18th is a wonderful final hole, bearing to the left over a bridged chasm with bunkers awaiting errant drives.

The final shot must avoid sand traps on the left for a triumphant finale.

Queen's may be shorter than the King's course but, on a breezy day, it played tough, its huge quick greens demanding a better touch than we had on the day.

Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly worth its high reputation and, despite our poor score, we would love to return. 

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