PGA Centenary, Gleneagles Auchterarder, Perthshire
The evolution continues at this early-1990s Jack Nicklaus course, which is scheduled to host the 2014 Ryder Cup. The Golden Bear once hailed this hilly land as the greatest parcel he'd ever worked with, but the layout he designed paled next to James Braid's King's and Queen's courses at Gleneagles. A few years ago, David McLay Kidd was hired to breathe new life into the course, and his redesign goes on display this year. Local players, who've never warmed to the PGA, have praised the changes, which include a new green at the par-four thirteenth and an overhaul of fourteen from a par three to a par four. But they still have one criticism: The par-five eighteenth remains an uneventful conclusion to a match. It's an uphill dogleg right that the pros can reach in two, but there's little danger either at the corner or around the green. Insiders say the hole will be changed before the Ryder Cup, though to what, and when, has yet to be announced.
Greens Fee: $235. Tee Times: Call 866-881-9525 or visit www.gleneagles.com.
Gleneagles Hotel Auchterarder, Perthshire
A refurbished top floor with ten super-luxury suites is scheduled to open in mid-June at this iconic resort. Designed by Amanda Rosa, who was responsible for the contemporary rooms in Gleneagles's Braid House expansion, the $6.8 million upgrade is part of an ambitious $35 million plan to prepare the property for the 2014 Ryder Cup.
Luxury Suites: from $3,250. Reservations: Call 866-881-9525 or visit www.gleneagles.com.
Moyvalley Moyvalley, County Kildare
The growth of top-quality golf in Ireland carries on unabated, the latest shining example being Darren Clarke's Moyvalley. This parkland design thirty miles west of Dublin lies within what was once a family estate, its lands granted in 1574 by Elizabeth I. The course, like its designer, has lofty goals: It will compete with the K Club, PGA National and the Carton House (see next item) in staging major events. Although the layout is open, it possesses ample contour, fairly large-scale bunkering and mature trees to give it visual appeal. The closing holes—particularly the par-five last, where water lines both sides of the fairway and crosses in front of the green—will test even the sturdiest of souls. The fifty-four-room Moyvalley Hotel, a boutique with modern interiors, is also scheduled to open this year.
Greens Fee: $200. Tee Times: Call 011-353/469-548-000 or visit www.moyvalley.com.
Carton House Maynooth, County Kildare
Restoration of this magnificent mansion, formerly the country estate of the eminent FitzGeralds, waited patiently for the past few years while the estate focused on its golf courses: verdant parkland designs by Colin Montgomerie and Mark O'Meara. With the hotel work completed this year, Carton House is developing into one of Ireland's major golf destinations. Eighteen "historic" Georgian-style guest rooms will be available, but the designers have otherwise avoided trying to re-create the hotel's original decor, opting instead for 147 contemporary rooms with a sleek minimalist look. A spa and a gym further enhance the modern amenities.
Rooms: from $375. Reservations: Call 011-353/1505-2000 or visit carton.ie.
The Shire Barnet, Hertfordshire
Seve Ballesteros's first design on English soil, the eighteen-hole "Master's course" at this twenty-seven-hole complex on the outskirts of London, bears some (though not many) markings of the Spaniard's swashbuckling style. Thousands of newly planted trees dotting the property will take years to add definition, and the bunkering is bold but not overpowering. Yet the S-shaped lake in front of eighteenth green is nothing if not daring; it brings to mind the water Ballesteros added short of the seventeenth green at Valderrama, where he captained the Europeans to victory in the 1997 Ryder Cup. The Shire's greens conform to USGA specs, and its fairways are sown with bent grass and rye, indicating a commitment to fine conditioning despite the relatively modest greens fees. There's also a Seve Ballesteros golf academy as well as a swimming pool, gym and sauna.
Greens Fees: $80-$120. Tee Times: Call 011-44/2084-417-649 or visit www.theshirelondon.com.