Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape

Gleneagles Hotel and Golf CoursesGDL00360

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Perth And Kinross
Planning Authority
Perth And Kinross
NN 91501 11041
291501, 711041

Legal Description

Gleneagles Hotel and Golf Courses

The Gleneagles Hotel and its golf courses were designed in the early part of the 20th century to be a prime luxury destination for golfers from all over the world. The King's and Queen's golf courses were designed by one of the primary golf designers of the time, James Braid. Following the extension of the Queen's course into 18-holes in 1925, both are unusual in having retained their early 20th century character and design with little in the way of alteration. The later, PGA Championship course was completed in 2011 and is currently the only one in Scotland designed by the renowned golfer and course designer Jack Nicklaus. Taken together, the three courses offer a unique insight into the development of golf course design over 10 years and all are of international quality. The landscape also has outstanding nature conservation value due to the Site of Special Scientific Interest and other, local sites of interest.

Inventory record and inventory boundary revised in 2016. Previously designated as The Gleneagles Hotel.

Minor amendment to inventory boundary in 2021.

Type of Site

A golfing landscape with three 18-hole golf courses with associated grand hotel and its gardens, built as a luxury golf resort from 1919–24.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

1919–1924; 1993–2014

Artistic Interest

Level of interest

The two oldest courses which make up the majority of the landscape have not changed significantly in design since their inception in 1919 and 1925 and the PGA Championship course has been designed by one of the world's most prestigious designers to be a course of international quality. The King's Course in particular is considered by many golfers to be one of the greatest golf courses in the world because of its design. Although different in character to the other two courses, the PGA Championship course demonstrates how golf course design has evolved.

The King's and Queen's golf courses were laid out during what is known as the 'golden age' of golf course design. This period, from the late 19th to the mid 20th century coincided with the increase in popularity of the game itself and is important as ideas about course design that developed at this time are still used today.

Design of early golf courses in the early to mid 19th century concentrated on placing hazards, like bunkers, in the way of the player getting to the green. Only the best players could avoid these. As the game increased in popularity at the end of the 19th century, there was a move to make the game more interesting for players of all abilities and courses began to be designed more strategically. Hazards were placed to catch wayward shots, or in positions where better players could take risks and be in a better place for their next shot, but where a less able player could avoid the hazards, but take longer to get to the green. James Braid was one of the designers at the forefront of this type of design. In common with other designers of the period, he used the natural features of the site, and this is still very much part of the character of these courses at Gleneagles, where natural slopes and undulations are an important feature.  One of the features of the King's course is the way a number of the holes are hidden from each other, giving a sense of isolation to the golfer.

Although the technology available allowed for some alteration to the natural landscape to create an interesting course, the use of full-scale earth moving equipment, as used now, was not available and the designers at the time were known for using the natural lies of the landscape. The courses at Gleneagles have been modified through the 20th century to take account of different playing styles, but comparison with a map of the course from 1926 shows that many of the bunkers and hole layouts are the same.

The King's and Queen's Golf courses at Gleneagles do not seem to have been considered trendsetting courses when they were opened, but they were designed using the contemporary philosophy of golf course design. The King's course in particular was considered to be a good course when it opened and this was confirmed by its use in 1921 for a match between the United States and Great Britain in a precursor of the Ryder Cup. The resort as a whole was written about positively at the time, with contemporary accounts describing the resort when it opened as 'the Playground of the Gods', ' the eighth wonder of the world' and 'a riviera in the Highlands' (

The current PGA Championship course was modified in 2011 by the world-famous golfer and designer Jack Nicklaus and it is his only course in Scotland. The course hosted the Ryder Cup in 2014 and is consistently rated highly amongst golfers.

James Braid designed or altered over 300 golf courses in Britain and Ireland and is considered to be one of the world's best golf course designers of his time. The King's Course is deemed by many to be one of his best. Braid was born in 1870 at Earlsferry in Fife and won the Open Golf Championship five times. He retired from playing professional golf in 1912 and went to Walton Heath in Surrey as its professional, where he remained. His main interest after this was as a golf course designer. His other courses include Carnoustie, which he remodelled in 1926 and Brora, which he designed in 1923 and which remains largely as he designed. The majority of his courses have been adapted as the game of golf has developed, but the King's and Queen's courses have been remarkably little altered in their layout and hole design.  

Scotland is recognised internationally as the Home of Golf. It is renowned for its links courses, of which the Old Course at St Andrews is the major example, but which also includes Troon, Carnoustie and Muirfield, amongst many others. Gleneagles is an inland course, and although it is not the first (Lanark was started in 1851 and there were others at the spa towns in the latter part of the 19th century), it is one of the principal golfing venues in the world.  

The layout of the designed landscape around the hotel, together with the golf courses designed by James Braid, give Gleneagles Hotel and Golf Courses outstanding value as a Work of Art


Level of interest

Surviving earlier-20th century plans of the hotel grounds and the layout of the King's and Queen's golf courses contribute to an understanding of the history of the designed landscape. Other documentation records the building of the hotel. Photos dating from 1930 show the hotel and its immediate setting (Canmore), but there is no known documentation which details the changes made to the courses and to the hotel gardens during the course of the 20th century.

The two main golf courses, the King's and Queen's are considered to be good representatives of the growing trend for strategically designed golf courses at the beginning of the 20th century. All three golf courses at Gleneagles are consistently mentioned in current golf course websites and journals as being amongst the best in the world to play.


Level of interest

The collection of trees and shrubs, particularly along the Golden Path, give some value for Horticulture.


Level of interest

The Gleneagles Hotel and its immediate surroundings still form a significant part of the landscape. Other buildings, including the entrance lodges to the south and north, date from the 1920s and still form part of the overall landscape around the hotel. The hotel at Gleneagles is a category B listed building and was conceived, with the golf courses, as a luxury destination. Although conceived together, the hotel sits to the north of the golf courses and the two are not significantly linked, either visually or by paths, walks or drives. Photos from 1930 show the hotel situated within formal gardens, and almost completely screened by trees. This is in contrast to the Old Course at St Andrews where the clubhouse provides the backdrop for both the first and eighteenth holes.


Level of interest

There are no scheduled monuments on the site. There are a number of undesignated sites in the landscape, documented on the National Record of the Historic Environment (Canmore). Loaninghead Fort (Scheduled Monument 7593) lies just outside the designated area to the south. This is a fort of later prehistoric date (circa 1800B.C –A.D. 400), visible as a series of upstanding earthworks.

Value in this category derives mainly from the potential for any future survey or investigation to reveal further information about the landscape over time.


Level of interest

Gleneagles was specifically chosen by Donald Matheson as a prime place for the hotel and golf courses. The view out from the site to the surrounding hills and landscapes is outstanding, but the low lying and gently undulating contours of the courses and the screening of the Gleneagles Hotel means that it is not especially differentiated from the surrounding landscape when viewed from a distance.

Nature Conservation

Level of interest

The Gleneagles Hotel and Golf Courses is outstanding in this criteria as there is one Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on the site (Gleneagles Mire). A Site of Special Scientific Interest is a statutory protected area, designated by Scottish Natural Heritage, which best represents the country's natural heritage.

There are a further 19 locations which are recognised by the Gleneagles Hotel as being of local importance for their scientific or nature conservation interest. The golf courses are managed in a way that gives priority to nature conservation, with the clearing of invasive species, for example.  A diverse species of wildlife, including red squirrel and otter exist on the site.

Location and Setting

The Gleneagles Hotel is located 2 miles (3km) west of the village of Auchterarder and 1 mile (1.5km) from the main A9(T) road to Perth. It is situated between Strathearn to the north and Strathallan to the south-west. The site is bounded by the A9 on its eastern border and by a minor road to the north. The golf courses extend to the south of the hotel. The hotel lies at 525' (160m) in the broad strath between the Ochil Hills to the south and the foothills of the Grampians to the north. The site was chosen for its dramatic scenery and views in all directions. The hotel itself is screened from view from the surrounding area by the policy woodlands.

The hotel is set on a formal terrace on higher ground facing south-east across the park and Laich's Loch with a splendid view along Glen Eagles to the south. The present landscape was designed c.1910 and the King's and Queen's Golf Courses were laid out between then and 1919, created from bare moorland. The present A823 formed the eastern boundary of the estate until 1980 when the Glendevon course was added to the east of the A823 extending to the A9. The structure of the design has remained similar to that originally laid out, and consists of 750 acres (303ha), of which 500 acres (202ha) are golf courses.

Site History

The Gleneagles Hotel and golf courses were the creation of Donald Matheson, who was the General Manager of the Caledonian Railway Company from 1910–1922. Matheson was captivated by the scenery and landscape of Perthshire, particularly in the area around Gleneagles and he arranged to build a grand hotel with surrounding golf courses as a luxury resort. The Gleneagles Limited Company was formed in 1913, which was responsible for constructing the hotel and the golf courses. It was not the first such luxury resort in Scotland, as Turnberry, in Ayrshire has opened in 1906.

James Braid, one of the foremost golf course designers at the time, was commissioned to design the golf courses. The building of the hotel was interrupted by the First World War, but the work on the golf courses continued and the King's and Queen's courses were opened in 1919. The Queen's was originally a 9-hole course and was extended into an 18-hole course in 1925. A plan of the courses in 1926, held at the hotel, shows the two 18-hole courses running westwards from the south of the hotel and with a small, 3-hole teaching course at the far east. There has been some small alterations to the holes in the King's and Queen's courses as the game of golf has developed over the 20th century, but a comparison of the 1926 course layout with the modern map shows the majority of the holes in the same alignment and with the bunkers in the same position.

In 1928 a 9-hole course was designed by the Head Greenkeeper at the time, George Alexander. This was extended to 18 holes in 1974 and renamed the Prince's course. A fourth course, called Glendevon, was opened in 1980. In 1993, a course was created out of the Glendevon course and some of the Prince's course and was called the Monarch's course. This was designed by the internationally renowned golfer and designer Jack Nicklaus and was renamed the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Centenary course in 2001. The course was modified by its designer, Jack Nicklaus, in preparation to be the venue of the Ryder cup in 2014. This course lies predominantly to the east of the Hotel. The remainder of the Prince's course was returned to a 9-hole course and is now the PGA Academy Course.

The Gleneagles Hotel opened in 1924 and from the beginning was known as a luxury resort. The hotel had formal lawns and gardens around it, with an area of parkland to the south and tennis courts to the east. The wider area around was mainly woodland. Currently, (2015), lawns and formal gardens remain around the hotel. The hotel has expanded over the course of the 20th century, with the adaptation of some garden ground and woods to car parking and other hotel facilities. There has also been development of private housing to the east and west of the hotel.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Gleneagles Hotel is listed at category B. It lies to the north of the golf courses and is largely screened from them by belts of trees. The Hotel was designed by James Miller in 1913 and completed by Matthew Adam. It opened in 1924 as a luxurious resort and is still known as one of the world's top luxury hotels. The site also contains a number of buildings associated with the hotel including lodges, a golf clubhouse and other facilities.  

Drives & Approaches

A tree-lined curving road approaches the hotel from the A823, which lies to the east of the hotel. It passes to the north of the golf courses and clubhouse, and turns to approach the hotel from the east. In the 1920s, the main access to the hotel was from Gleneagles Station, which lies to the southeast. The former tree-lined drive from the station to the current entrance survives and is located within the PGA Championship course.


Paths & Walks

There is a path from Laich's Loch to the hotel which is lined with flowerbeds. It appears on a 1919 plan of the golf courses held at the Hotel and is therefore likely to have been part of the


The area to the south of the terrace was originally laid out and fenced as a park and Highland Cattle were grazed there. In recent years this area has been converted into the pitch and putt course but it retains many of the fine parkland trees and its open character. Laich's Loch has been used as a water feature in the first hole of the new Glendevon course which extends to the east of the park and the A823. The Queen's Course was laid out to the west of the main drive, to the north of Loch-an-Eerie, with the King's Course to its south, and west of the A823. The Club House and Professional's Shop are sited to the south of the main drive near the South Lodge. The Prince's Course has been laid out on either side of the A823, to the south of the Glendevon Course.



There is a mix of deciduous and coniferous strips planted as part of the golf course design and as screens around the car park to the west of the hotel. To the north of the North Lodge, there is a small belt of coniferous woodland sheltering the hotel from the surrounding moorland.

Water Features

Laich's Loch, which lies to the south of the hotel is not shown on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map of 1866, but is visible on a plan of the golf courses, dated 1919 and held within the Hotel's collection. This suggests it was created as part of the early 20th century landscape around the hotel. It was formed with naturalistic banks to provide variety in the landscaping around the hotel, and was positioned to be easily accessible.  

The Gardens

There are formal gardens to the south of the hotel, with lawns, beds and borders. The planting in the beds and borders is renewed regularly. An oval garden to the east of the hotel was formerly a flower garden, and is shown on photos from the 1930s, held in the collection at Canmore, as being planted in an octagonal wheel pattern. It is now grassed over.

Walled Gardens

To the north of the Wheel Garden and the north access road is the nursery which contains a large modern range of glasshouses used to grow a variety of pot plants for the hotel, from begonias and geraniums to larger palms and foliage plants.




Ordnance Survey (Surveyed 1860, Published 1866), Perth and Clackmannan Sheet CXVIII.5. 25 Inches to the Mile 1st Edition Map. Southampton: Ordnance Survey.

Ordnance Survey (Surveyed 1936. Published 1958), Sheet NN91 1: 25,000 Map. Surrey: Ordnance Survey.

Printed Sources

Historic England (2007). Golf courses as Designed Landscapes of Historic Interest. A Report by the European Institute of Golf Course Architects. Swindon: English Heritage.

Nottage, J., (1999) The Gleneagles Hotel. London: Harper Collins.

Online Sources

Canmore: CANMORE 73102, 307880 & 337882

Canmore: CANMORE 25375, 25374 & 333437.

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, The Gleneagles Hotel. (accessed 05/05/15).

Information from The Gleneagles Hotel website, at (accessed 05/05/2015).

International Conifer Programme, Gleneagles Hotel (accessed 05/05/2015)

Scottish Natural Heritage, Gleneagles Mire (accessed 05/05/2015)

Further information courtesy of Gleneagles staff, (2015).

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

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General oblique aerial view of the golf courses at Gleneagles, looking to the northwest, during daytime with hills in the background.
old road from station to hotel, looking northwest, during daytime, with cloudy sky.
General view of Gleneagles Hotel and gardens, looking north in daytime with grass and path
general view of Queen’s course, looking east during daytime with blue and cloudy sky.
general view of King’s course, during daytime, with blue sky
view of the PGA Championship course with ponds, during daytime with cloudy sky.
general view of King’s Course, during daytime with blue sky
Gleneagles Mire, during daytime, with cloudy sky

Printed: 29/11/2021 05:43