Today's Golfer's —the 'Oscars of the golf travel industry'—has named three Nicklaus Design courses among its 17 award winners for 2014. The annual awards, first introduced in 2011, provide an objective view of the best hotels, courses and regions in Europe decided by public vote. Awards are broken down by region: Europe, England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.
2014 Ryder Cup host Gleneagles was named Scotland's Best Hotel/Resort. Carden Park was named England's Best Hotel/Resort (North), and St. Mellion was named England's Best Course (West).
Gleneagles, often referred to as the 'Palace in the Glens,' 'A Riviera in the Highlands' or 'the eighth wonder of the world'—as it was described when it first opened in 1924—celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.
Set amidst the gentle beauty of 850 acres of Perthshire countryside, the hotel is home to three quality courses, a multi-award-winning spa, sumptuous guest bedrooms, elegant fine dining (including Andrew Fairlie-Scotland's only two Michelin-star restaurant) and an array of outdoor activities. This September, the Ryder Cup will be staged on the Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary course.
"If you go through the course, there is not a weak shot on it, but you must keep balance," Nicklaus said. "You can't have four holes in a row breaking someone's back, as you have to give some relief and a birdie chance, and the Ryder Cup falls the same way. I'm very proud of it."
And he should be. In addition to serving as host of the upcoming Ryder Cup, the award-winning Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course has hosted the 1999 and 2001 Scottish PGA Championship, and is a four-time host of the Johnnie Walker Championship on the European Tour.
Carden Park was named England's Best Hotel/Resort (North). Set amid 1,000 acres of beautiful Cheshire countryside, Carden Park features two championship courses, a luxurious mansion hotel, sumptuous spa facilities and award-winning restaurants. Its main attraction, though, is the golf course designed Jack Nicklaus and his son Steve Nicklaus. The course is a four-time host of the DeVere PGA Seniors Championship. Open for play in 1998, it is distinguished as the first course in the world to be co-designed by the father/son pair. The Golden Bear calls his design at Carden Park a "thinking man's course."
St. Mellion was named England's Best Course (West) just after celebrating its 25th birthday. The Nicklaus course at St. Mellion is the Golden Bear's first UK design and has staged seven Benson & Hedges International Opens and two St. Mellion Timeshare TPC tournaments. St. Mellion's premier course is a formidable foe, the ultimate examination of parkland golf with no easy holes or weak links.
"It was a very challenging piece of property, and I actually turned down the project three times before agreeing to do it," Nicklaus recalled. "I was told at the time that it was the largest civil contract in Great Britain that year, because of the amount of Earth we had to move to make the golf course work. In the end, it's a golf course where, actually, each individual hole is pretty darn good. They might be in a unique location, but I thought the golf course, as such, turned out to be a really good golf course from a playability standpoint."