Changes afoot in U.S.-European golf challenge

One of golf's premier events, the Ryder Cup, will be played in a familiar location in 2014 but on a course with a different look.

The biennial event, which pits teams of American and European golfers, will be Sept. 26-28 over the PGA Centenary Course at the Gleneagles Hotel. Perthshire, where Gleneagles is located, was the site for the first U.S.-British team competition in 1921. That was dubbed the International Challenge, and the Ryder Cup was created six years later.

The Jack Nicklaus-designed Centenary Course opened in 1993 and quickly gained a reputation as one of the world's great venues. But for the Ryder Cup, Gleneagles opted for a makeover.

"They came back and softened a few holes," said Andrew Jowett, PGA head golf professional at the course. "The changes tend to be for accuracy from the tee."

The project involved moving more than 50,000 tons of earth, adding and removing bunkers, improving moisture and drainage and changing the layouts of several holes.

The adjustments will be most evident on the back nine, ideal for the Cup's match-play format that could have the outcome going down to the wire.

Nos. 12 and 13 will be the toughest holes on the course, but the par-5 18 might be the real attention-grabber. It was reconfigured into a classic risk/reward hole. Tees were raised and the fairway lowered, letting golfers see more of the hole. A new green was installed with seven new bunkers.

"It was a little bit of a flat hole," he explained. "No elevation."