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?
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.