Martin Dempster explains the changes the R&A and architect Martin Hawtree have in store for The Old Course--just typing that feels so April Foolish-- and called on 2004 Dunhill Links Champ Stephen Gallacher to boil this down to the pure essence of the problem: big egos, afraid of low scores.
Playing in this year’s Dunhill Links event, Frenchman Victor Dubuisson and South African George Coetzee joined a handful of players to score a 62, ten-under-par there. World No 1 Rory McIlroy is among the group who have signed for a 63 on it, his effort in the opening round of the 2010 Open having equalled the lowest-ever round in a major.
“I take it they don’t want a 59 shot on it,” Gallacher told The Scotsman when told about the changes in Dubai, where he is competing in the European Tour’s season-ending event. “I’m open to a few new bunkers, depending on where they are, of course. But the Old Course is such a weather dependent venue now and when there is no wind the scoring can be very low. As for the existing bunkers, they’ve got to keep the iconic ones.”
The story also reveals when the ideas were hatched and who laid these rotten eggs.
In the summer, a delegation that included Hawtree, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson, championship convenor Jim McArthur and Links Trust representatives walked the Old Course together to talk over possible alterations.