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« Clippings: Anchoring Ban Announcement | Main | The Short History Of The Arnold Palmer »

Latest #savetheoldcourse Clippings And More Graphic Images

Joining former five time Open Champion and Royal & Ancient Golf Club member Peter Thomson in criticizing the work is Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open winner and a Scot.

Martin Dempster reports his extensive statements as well as some of the other recent jabs from playing greats, including this from Lawrie:

“I personally feel it should be left alone and, if twenty-under or less wins, then so be it as all links courses are at the mercy of the weather. No matter what the winner scores, he’s still the best player that week.”

Lawrie, who described a new tee built at the 17th for the 2010 Open as looking “out of place”, added: “I personally feel they should be tackling technology and, more importantly, the ball instead of spending fortunes changing courses.”

Luke Donald, the world No. 2 Tweeted that he's not sure he's in favor of changing Old Course features that survived several hundred years.

Lorne Rubenstein was more restrained than others but certainly clear about what he feels is driving the course changes.

Change the rules for equipment. Change the golf ball. Slow down greens. (None of this will happen, though). But don’t change the Old Course, at least not without input from more people who care. And many do.

Joe Passov sets the bar disturbingly low, suggesting that changing the Old Course is no big deal and not fazing him "one bit" because they've always changed the Old Course. Though that's a tough case to make post-1920 other than the new tees prior to 2010. And also a stretch considering that the people making the change could have regulated equipment so that this would not be necessary.

That's because for all of its tradition and role as the most hallowed ground in the sport, the Old Course is also all about change. It has witnessed -- and mostly embraced -- hundreds of modifications over the past several centuries. The latest refinements will ultimately make little difference in how the Old Course at St. Andrews is played and enjoyed.

Obviously I can't agree with a statement like that when greenside bunkers are going to be added to create inaccessible hole locations to get Open scores up. Those bunkers will take away the ground game or a bailout for the everyday golfer. But the larger question I'd ask those like Passov chalking these changes up to the Old Course's normal progress: if this is just a typical Old Course update, why was it done in secret?

Reader Mark points out that in 2009 the Links Trust announced "adaptations" to the Jubilee Course. When this took place, they made head greenkeeper Gordon Moir available for meetings on four separate days and displayed the plans from June 8-22 in the Links Clubhouse. This did not happen in the case of the Old Course, the most revered and beloved course on the planet, the bible of golf design. Either it was an oversight of epic proportions or someone knew that these changes went way beyond the last significant nips and tucks the course experienced prior to the 1920s. You can view a PDF of the Jubilee campaign here.

Golf Channel's Morning Drive had Jack Nicklaus on to react to the anchoring ban, but he was also asked about the state of the game (taking care of the ball would help) and the Old Course (nothing wrong with keeping it up with modern times.)


Jim Colton tweeted a blow up shot by Graylin Loomis of the amazing scene of a 7th fairway depression getting filled in by an army of workers who were also offering us a punchline contest: how many men does it take to fill in a feature that had been around for several centuries until today?

Generations saw fit to leave this depression. Today's caretakers did not. It must be a gift to know what Old Tom and Allan Robertson and all of the other Old Course caretakers did not know!

Loomis, on the Living as a Links Golfer blog, posted more images here showing the work in process. Warning, these images are explicit and may cause recurring nightmares if you have a golfing soul. Oh, and good luck finding the architects in the photos. Hawtree no where to be seen and Peter Dawson was in Orlando. Nothing like that hand-on supervision for the Old Course account.

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Reader Comments (9)

it's as if they're doing things just to be doing makes me sick...
11.28.2012 | Unregistered Commentergreg c
For those of you who wonder what the fuss is consider

For the 2010 Open the added tee's off the course, so it's now played over 4 of them.

For the 2015 Open they are making a lot of changes, including work on 2, 6. 7, 11, 17 and more details about other works are slipping out. Some of this wasn't in the press release but on small notices on the course itself and more is planned for next winter. This is being done in the interests of toughening the course for professional tournament ,, yet all these played over par at the last Open. So holes like 9 and 10 are to follow.
Can’t you see a trend? Why wasn’t there a master plan for discussion?
Do you believe these are the last of the changes Dawson will sanction while he ignores the real problem?
11.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBelowPar
It might not seem relevant to you (it does to me), but many years ago I wrote a book about Myanmar, and while traipsing around Bagan (do a google image search of Bagan) the concern of many “foreign tourists” was that some of the thousand-year old monuments were being modified somewhat with modern conveniences. “Don’t mess them up, they are sacred treasures for the whole world.”

A resident of Bagan took offense at the criticism from people on the other side of the world who had visited once. He fired back: “This is my temple, I worship here every day as my family has for generations. It has been repaired regularly for hundreds of years. Why must you foreigners decide the fate of my temple? Does the Vatican have lights? Does Westminster Abbey have heating? Why can’t I have the same in my house of worship?”

11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob
@ Bob. Very good point.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered Commentermetro18
Jack's tool bag is showing more and more with time. TOC comments make me sad. Spoken like a guy looking for work.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
@Bob a very thoughtful comment. My own view:

In the case of St Andrews we'll never really know how the average "parishioner" felt about the changes because he was not given the opportunity to participate in the process.

And I guess the Bagan analogy holds up only if we accept that St Andrews is not the 'Home of Golf,' for does not the Vatican represent all Catholics equally? Either St Andrews is "our" temple and golfers around the world of the same "religion," with the home temple's care entrusted to the people of St Andrews, Fife, et al (again, there's that question of where to draw that arbitrary line between "us" and "them"), or it's "their" little private chapel complete with its own distinct religion that "we" are not allowed to join in any meaningful sense. The sum total of involvement we are allowed is to pay $400 (or whatever the fees are these days) to visit for approximately 3.5 hours. Sometimes.

If the latter then I suggest the marketing be changed to "St Andrews, the Home of a Big & (Mostly) Old Resort."
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark Bourgeois
If the R&A is making inaccessible pin positions by moving bunkers closer to greens, perhaps they are planning to make the Old Course a softer, mushier American-style course. If true, that would perhaps be as big a travesty as the "renovations".

I don't think the Bagan analogy fits. This is not putting in some underground drainage or a sprinkler system or some minor technical issue analogous to adding indoor lights or plumbing. This is changing the natural undulations and slopes, which is the essence of the Old Course. It would be more analogous to the monks tearing off the old roofs and replacing them with modern-style roofs, or covering the temple in aluminum siding.

It may be the R&A and/or Links Trust's right to make the changes, but that doesn't make it right, and it doesn't lessen the loss.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnimal Kingdom
One of my good freinds from Scotland has some great old photographs of the Old Course in the early 20th century. While in general it looked the same, there were numeorous things that had changed over the time from when the photographs were taken and when I first played the OC (1997). It was obvious that some of the newer features were for the sole purpose of "toughening" the golf course, as many of the bunkers in the old phots were much shallower and smaller.

So it isn't as if the course has been the same for hundreds of changes to bring back the way it may have looked 75, 100, 150 years ago...would they be criticized or welcome?

Having played there almost a dozen times in my life, it holds a special place in my heart, and you want it to remain the same...but in reality the same may be different than it was someone else who played it 40 or 50 years ago.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
How is filling in a depression going to prevent higher scores? This is sickening.

I have friends that say that the "this side (the US) of the Atlantic" way to golf is the only real way to play....I would always point to the old courses and the rolling fairways and say that 1) they're beautiful, 2) they give you more ways and options to play...I loved that Tom Watson competed a few years back despite not having the insane length to keep up with the young guys, because he could play a shot that rolled forever.
11.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim

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