Jun 14 2011 by Gordon Bannerman, Perthshire Advertiser Tuesday
GOLF legend Jack Nicklaus is putting his heart and soul into preparing Gleneagles for the first European Ryder Cup to bear his imprint.
The Golden Bear is back on board to tinker with the PGA Centenary Course he laid-out originally as the Monarch’s.
And Russell Smith, head professional at the Perthshire resort, believes it is a task close to the great man’s heart.
Speaking at the re-opening of the Dormy House, Smith said: "The final part in the jigsaw is the golf course. We are planning to make some final changes over the winter and when the golf course is ready for next season it will be in its complete state.
"We haven’t finalised the actual design changes just yet. That is still being discussed with Mr Nicklaus and his team but ultimately we are looking to change the 18th in some shape or form. It is a crucial hole.
"We will finalise plans fairly soon and start work over the winter period. Mr Nicklaus is due back here again very soon."
The Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village hosted a Ryder Cup on US soil in the eighties but Gleneagles will be a first bearing the Golden Bear’s signature on this side of the Atlantic.
Smith said: "Obviously Mr Nicklaus has been involved from a playing perspective in so many major championships and also in terms of venues around the world. But I know he is absolutely delighted the Ryder Cup is being played here in 2014.
"It has been great to welcome a hero of mine back here in terms of finishing off the golf course for 2014. This is what he started back in the late eighties and opened as the Monarch’s course in 1993.
"Now the man himself is preparing the final touches to the first Scottish course to host the Ryder Cup since Muirfield in 1973.
"He is a true professional and is relishing the prospect of handling the changes, which are designed to make sure we stage a fantastic Ryder Cup here."
Reflecting on the Dormy House makeover, Smith added: "The investment in the Dormy House is massive and not just for 2014. It is crucial in the run-up to the Ryder Cup and in the years to follow.
"It is magnificent. The sense of arrival is special. We have enhanced the whole experience and not just for golfers. We have many locals using the restaurant and they will enjoy the changes."