The Bonnie Links of Scotland
April 1 2001 by John Steinbreder
Marguerite Sallee, 54, lives in Nashville and plays most of her golf at the Golf Club of Tennessee. “It gives you the best of the state,” enthuses the 19-handicapper, who heads Nashville, TN-based Frontline Group, the training, consulting, and e-learning company she started a few years ago. “I really like it, especially the ninth hole, which runs along the Harpeth River.”
But neither that hole, nor any other on the Tennessee track, is Sallee’s favorite. At least not any more, because on a trip to Scotland last year, she fell in love with golf in the Old Country, at the opening hole of the King’s Course at the Gleneagles Hotel.
“I’d have to pick ‘Dun Whinny’ as my favorite,” she says of the hole named for the coarse Scottish bushes, or “whins,” growing alongside the green. “It was my first trip to Scotland. It was my first round of golf in Scotland. It was the first hole I ever played in Scotland, and I parred it. I hit four perfect shots, and I got my four. Now, keep in mind that I butchered every other hole on the King’s Course that day. But I did par the first, and I was so excited to do that.”
Sallee was visiting Scotland because of another job she has, as a member of the board of directors of the Ladies Professional Golf Association. She was attending the biennial Solheim Cup matches, a Ryder Cuplike competition held last fall at Loch Lomond, a nearby golf club. Not surprisingly, some of the attendees took some time to play a little on neighboring courses during their stay.
Hence Sallee’s visit to Gleneagles. A longtime tennis player who picked up golf 15 years ago, Sallee now tries to play as much as once a week.
“The first hole is a slight dogleg to the right, and you have a pretty open landing area from the tee,” the Duke University grad says of the opener on the course that five-time British Open winner James Braid designed in the early part of the last century. “The green is elevated, and there’s a deep bunker in front, which I managed to clear with my approach shot. And then I putted well.” “I liked the experience so much,” recalls Sallee, whose Frontline Group racked up revenues of $74 million last year and who earned a place on the Working Woman 500. “Just standing on the first tee, looking out across the hills of Scotland…it was a perfect setting for golf and a perfect place for me to be.”
Is it any wonder, then, that she made “Dun Whinny” her top choice?
CEO, Frontline Group
COURSE PROFILE: The King’s Course, Gleneagles Hotel
LOCATION: Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland
HOLE: 1st, named “Dun Whinny,” par-four, 362 yards from the back tees, 352 yards from the yellow markers and 344 yards from the greens.
HOLE DESCRIPTION: The first hole of the King’s Course, which opened in 1919, is a slight dogleg right that offers a reasonably generous landing area for drives. Players tend to favor the right side with their tee shots because the left is guarded by three bunkers. For their approach shots, they usually have to hit anywhere from a five-to-seven iron to the elevated green. The green slopes severely from back to front, and can be tough to read; several years ago Nick Faldo five-putted the hole during the Scottish Open. A big bunker in front eats up any balls that land short, and there is a bunker to the left of the green as well as a deep hollow to the right.
COURSE ARCHITECT: James Braid, five-time winner of the British Open.
CLUB DESCRIPTION: The Gleneagles Hotel is a sumptuous resort set on an 850-acre estate. The centerpiece is the old railway hotel, which features 213 bedrooms. In addition, Gleneagles has three 18-hole golf courses, all of which have hosted top professional and amateur tournaments, and one par-three track as well as a golf academy and an expansive practice area. Other available activities include horseback riding, skeet- and sporting-clays shooting, fishing, falconry, racquet sports and off-road driving. There is also a gym and spa.
John Steinbreder is a senior writer for Golf Week magazine and is the author of six books, including Golf Courses of the U.S. Open.