#savetheoldcourse kicks into high gear with opinion pieces by two men whose views I respect most when it comes to golf architecture and in particular, appreciating the nuances of design. Bradley Klein and Darius Oliver have chimed in on the tampering and let's just say they won't be on architect Martin Hawtree's Christmas card list this year.
Klein, for Golfweek.com, says the secretive and deceptive process feels "rotten":
So instead, Hawtree has been commissioned to reduce the slope of that section of green. That’s not a complicated project. But it is an arrogant approach to design, and one that deserves far more public consideration and debate.
Instead, the R&A Championship Committee, working quietly with the Links Trust, has announced its intent to do surgery. This is no way to run a golf course, and certainly no way to preserve the “trust” inherent in a custodial relationship. The town effectively has ceded control of a treasured asset to a private group running its own golf championship.
I don’t know if these changes are all needed. What I do know is the reasons given for making them are unconvincing and not enough basis for tinkering with sacred ground.
PlanetGolf.com's Darius Oliver, having seen Hawtree's unsympathetic work at several classic courses around the globe and his flattening of contours at Trump International, is even more blunt about architect Hawtree's legacy.
It’s holes and individual features are admired by golfers and course designers everywhere and its imperfect perfection remains a benchmark that others only dream of approaching.
Like they can on any golf course in the world, anybody - repeat anybody - could make St Andrews a harder and more difficult test for elite golfers. Making holes tougher takes no great design or architectural skill at all. The Old Course at St Andrews should be above structural interference of any nature, as it most profoundly embodies the spirit of our game and the emphasis proper golf has on fun and sport and enjoyment over difficulty and the protection of an artificial pretext like par.
The ambition of every golf course architect should not be to interfere with the Old Course, but to instead help make our game more fun and interesting, in essence to build holes more like those at St Andrews. For Hawtree to accept this brief, let alone believe he can improve upon these golf holes, smacks of arrogance and a complete disregard for the history of our game. Perhaps his apparent disinterest in actually playing the game of golf has something to do with his attitude toward our most sacred shrine.