A round last week on the St Andrews Old Course marked my 95th round on the ancient links. Over the last two and a half years, I have come to love the course. It has given me an appreciation for golfing history, links golf, and golf course design.
The R&A has announced that the Old Course will be receiving a makeover before the 2015 Open Championship. Martin Hawtree has designed the changes, which will take place over the next two winters.
The work will take place in two phases. The first phase involves work on the 2nd, 7th, 11th and 17th holes. The second phase will deal with the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 9th and 15th holes. A list of the changes to the course has been published. It includes adding bunkers to landing areas, enlarging bunkers, and increasing undulations, in addition to adding yardage in areas. None of the changes look particularly inspiring...
I will be very interested in seeing what the changes will include. The Old course is timeless. It is deviously simple, yet endlessly complicated. Depending on the wind, it can play as nearly 10 different golf courses.
The R&A have undoubtedly decided to change the course to keep up with new technology and modern changes to the game. After all, the Old Course has had a considerably lower scoring average than other Open rota courses in the last 30 years... This idea goes back to a previous blog post, "Where does it end?" The course has been lengthened in the past, but angles were never changed. Where can they squeeze in extra yards?
It took great number of rounds to see the hidden beauty the Old Course has to offer. It is incredibly natural in an un-reproducible way. Areas of the course make no sense... 12 massive double greens? The routing nightmare of “the loop” with holes 7 and 11 playing across one another? A modern course would never get away with it, which is one reason the Old Course is so unique.
The changes, as mentioned before, do not look inspiring. That being said, Martin Hawtree has proven his design and course updating skills at many incredible courses. Additionally, the changes have been approved by the St Andrews Links Trustees, Links Management Committee, and The R&A Championship Committee. Due to this, we can all rest slightly easier knowing that no damage or negative changes will happen to the classic course, but one still has to wonder what they will do? What is left to be done to the most famous course in the World, the "Home of Golf?"
I will post pictures of the changes as they happen this winter.
Here is a link to the official R&A announcement:
UPDATE: Here are some photos taken of the work projects as of this morning (November 28, 2012) (Apologies for the iPhone mid-round quality)
This is the only change I saw out there that has worried me. Shifting bunkers and re-contouring areas is nothing new, but re-shaping the 11th green seems extreme.
|Area right of the 2nd green to be re-shaped and bunkers moved|
|Large depression in 7th fairway flattened and filled|
|Back left area on 11 green flattened for more pin position options|
|Road hole bunker rebuilt, and surrounding area re-countoured|
|Road hole bunker|