I know that the last bunker filled or cut on the sacred Old Course was in 1949 because I read it in Scott Macpherson's magnificent book, The Evolution Of The Old Course.
For Immediate Release On A Friday:
A number of improvements are being planned to the Old Course to help maintain its challenge for the world’s top golfers ahead of the return of The Open Championship to St Andrews in 2015.
Renowned golf course architect Martin Hawtree was commissioned by St Andrews Links Trust, which manages the Old Course and the other six courses at the Home of Golf, and The R&A Championship Committee, which organises golf’s oldest major championship, to assess potential changes which would enhance the challenge for elite players without unduly affecting club and visiting golfers while remaining true to the special character of the Old Course.
Martin Hawtree’s recommendations have now been agreed by the St Andrews Links Trustees and Links Management Committee and The R&A Championship Committee.
Translation: Peter Dawson. Go on...
The work is planned to take place in two phases over this winter and next. The first phase involves work on the 2nd, 7th, 11th and 17th holes. The second phase will take place in winter 2013/14 with work on the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 9th and 15th holes.
The work will widen the Road Bunker on the 17th hole by half a metre at the right hand side and recontour a small portion of the front of the green to enable it to gather more approach shots landing in that area.
How about widening the lack of a proper landing area by oh, I don't know, 20 and a half metres?
A new bunker will be created on the right of the 3rd fairway and another on the left of the 9th fairway 20 yards short of the green. Bunkers will be repositioned closer to the right edge of the 2nd green and the right of the 4th green. A portion of the back left of the 11th green will be lowered to create more hole location options.
Oh boy, tinkering with the Eden green after a few hundred years. Is that easier than treating it different agronomically since it's modern green speeds prompting this move?
Euan Loudon, Chief Executive of St Andrews Links Trust, said, “The Old Course is renowned as one of the great Open venues and its continued prominence on the Open roster is crucially important to the economy and reputation of St Andrews. The Old Course has evolved over time and the Links Trust is delighted to be working with the Championship Committee in order to maintain the challenge of the course for elite tournament players and the thousands of golfers who play here each year.”
Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We have considered the challenge presented to the world’s top golfers by each of The Open Championship venues and carried out a programme of improvements over the last ten years. While some holes have been lengthened on the Old Course in recent years it has otherwise remained largely unaltered. The Championship Committee felt there was an opportunity to stiffen its defences in some places to ensure it remains as challenging as ever to the professionals. The proposals from Martin Hawtree should place more of a premium on accuracy and ball control while retaining the spirit and character of the Old Course.”
Translation of premium on accuracy and ball control: even few chances to hit driver.
The full list of changes is as follows:
On the 2nd hole, the two bunkers right and short of the green will be moved closer to the right edge of the green. The ground to the right of the green will also be recontoured to create more undulations and the width of 3rd tee will be reduced to accommodate this. Two bunkers on the right side of the fairway, near the 3rd Championship tee, will be removed.
On the 7th, the large depression in the landing area of the fairway will be filled in and a slight mound created. The area to the right of the green will be remodelled to create more undulations.
On the 11th, the back left portion of the green will be lowered to create more hole location options.
On the 17th, the Road Bunker will be widened by half a metre at the right hand side and a small portion of the front of the green will be recontoured to enable it to gather more approach shots landing in that area.
On the 3rd hole, the first fairway bunker on the right will be removed. A new fairway bunker will be added into the bank on the right hand side about 275 yards from the Championship tee.
On the 4th, the acute spur formation on the left hand side of the fairway will be reduced and the bunker on the right hand side of the green will be moved closer to its edge. The ground to the back right of the green will be recontoured.
What did the fourth hole do wrong to get such a makeover? And what is an acute spur formation? Oh right, a thing that blocks your view if you bail too far left. Can't have those!
On the 6th, the ground to the right of the green will be recontoured.
On the 9th, a fairway bunker will be added short and left of the green, about 25 yards to the left and diagonally towards the green from the last bunker on the right of the fairway.
On the 15th, the ground to the back right of the green will be recontoured to create more undulations.
Hard to imagine that ending well.