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The Best Old Course Changes Analysis Yet...

Darius Oliver pens a fantastic-if-it-weren't-so-tragic breakdown of the Old Course changes with beautiful images to remind us just how amazing some of the features are that the non-golfing architect plans to tinker with. He won't bore you with long explanations, just good, simple, to-the-point analysis that exposes the travesty that is this project spearheaded by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

I'm so glad Oliver tackles the second and fourth holes as I think they are by far the most egregious of the changes.


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Reader Comments (17)

The scope of these changes is just breathtaking. It is like a massive tropical storm making landfall. Hard to take everything in.

There HAS to be a master plan. Somewhere, there is a master plan with all these changes. They didn't just whip up a few Photoshop pics over last weekend to post at the tees, that's for sure.

Massive change...master public comment. It is painfully clear that Peter Dawson anticipated opposition and decided upon a strategy of subduing us with a fait accompli. Well, the changes are not half done, what's done can be undone, and if this stuff goes through does anyone really believe they're done? What else is in that master plan? Whither the other 9 holes?

Where are the public authorities on this? Where is Historic Scotland? Is there no one in a position of authority, no one, to condemn at least the process? Is this the way anyone wants their public entities (Links Trust) managed?

Those who agree with the changes: are you happy with the process? What if the Trust comes out with changes you don't like? What if the work is botched?
11.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
This is horrific. The only positive i see is we aren't talking about the poor cheaters who are belly aching about having the putters pulled from their guts.
11.30.2012 | Unregistered Commenterno and yes
Well-went to St Andrews this afternoon but sadly got there later than I wanted to and only looked at 3 holes before darkness (and the cold!) got the better of me.Here are my observations-please dont shoot me if you don't agree-I have both positive and negative things to say.
17th hole-the most famous hole in the world.In my 32 years in Scotland the Road Hole bunker has been rebuilt/remodelled many times.The increase in size of the bunker is quite small and although there has been a lot of turf stripped back the contouring doesn't look out of place or extreme to me.To be honest the bunker will be a bit more like it looked when I first played the hole in the 70s-so this one gets a cautious thumbs up from me.
7th hole-I cannot for the life of me see what is to be gained by filling this hollow in.Complete waste of time.
11th hole-the most controversial change in my view.I fully understand why somebody would think giving more hole locations on this green is a good thing and if I were a greenkeeper or doing course set-up then I might just go along with it.To be honest even though I've played the Old maybe 40 or 50 times it is hard to remember exactly how the green was before but the change looks very significant-we will know better when the turf is back on.My feeling today though was that this was a piece of vandalism.
Yes the green is mega slopey and the wind can play havoc on this hole-I myself have given 4 wind-related rulings there in the Dunhill-but there has never been a problem finding pins for the Open or the Links Trophy and softening this slope will not stop the wind blowing!Greens tend to be only about 10.5 on the stimp in the Open because of worries about windy weather-but a proper Scottish wind will move a ball even on fairly flat greens at that speed.I'm sure also that the pilgrims who come here to play enjoy the green as it was-its part of history and what you come to expect here.If this is a prelude to a new back tee on this hole then I think it would be a complete disaster.
Sorry I didn't make it to any of the other holes-not sure if work is started yet on all the changes-but I plan to be back in 2 weeks and if any of you are interested I will report back.
11.30.2012 | Unregistered Commenterchico
And here's the dumbest:

Golf Digest making a stand for progress. At least disclaim that you lice from the industry you try to protect, Ron Whitten
11.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
Thanks for the report Chico, would be very curious to hear how you feel bunkering tighter to the 2nd and 4th greens will play for pros and amateurs, and also how they impact those holes in general.

Shame to hear about 11 but I think the many people who reacted are experts in construction and knew that to get the slope more hole location friendly, it was going to take some major resculpting.

And glad to hear you feel the wave on 17 green has not been impacted. That is my concern. The bunker, as you note, has been messed with and it even looked in one photo like they might have reduced some of the flying sand build up on the back side, which has long been needed.
11.30.2012 | Registered CommenterGeoff
Thanks Chico.....would love to hear more when you get the chance.
11.30.2012 | Unregistered Commenterclashman
Chico - ditto to your comments and to other posters.' Yes the Road Bunker train of change left the station a long time ago.

More of your field research greatly anticipated!
11.30.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
What's done can be undone.
Thanks, Chico.

What was the security? In the photo Geoff posted in the ''first crime scenes'' there were 2 men staring down the potographer....... could you move freely, and was it easy or was it because of ypur status in the Scot golf community?

Did you get to pass on the international outrage as noted in this blog's microcosm of it all?

Rock on, brother.

12.1.2012 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Having that pit-of-the-stomach feeling after reading Oliver's post.
12.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterF. X. Flinn
"[W]e will not forget...and we cannot forgive."
12.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer
I used to like Ron Whitten. Has he ever debated anyone seriously on the subject of golf equipment technology and the effect on golf architecture? I know this isn't the first time he has popped off as in the column posted by Ryan above. But it doesn't even seem to be a consistent thought. In other writings, Whitten decries the expense and time involved in golf. But he defends technology (often expensive, complicated, leading to incomprehensible rules if there are any rules at all, and perhaps leading to longer golf courses and longer hours to complete a round) as "progress."

Has he ever had to answer questions on the technology debagte in golf?

Abraham Lincoln once said, "I don't like that man. I must get to know him better."
12.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
Digs-dont think my place in Scottish golf would get me anywhere!
No sign of security-I think the 2 guys in black were greenkeepers!
12.1.2012 | Unregistered Commenterchico
Erin Hills. If Ron Whitten thinks that is progress, and Golf Digest gives him a place to write, then the game is doomed. Or at least Golf Digest is if that's the kind of golf they advocate.
12.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavidC
"We will not forget and we won't forgive." A Chicken Little panegyric for the purist crowd! Sounds like This could have spurred an Occupy St. Andrews movement. Until the whiskey ran out.

I don't disagree that the methods employed here in sneakily starting work before the objectors could mobilize was a craven act by people who ignored a moral responsibility to protect an iconic piece of ground, but the hyperbolic reaction could come close to justifying that course of action.
12.1.2012 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
@ Colin
Why is nobody advocating undoing the changes from ca 1450 to 2012? If it is holy golfing ground why are people advocating freezes to the architecture that only matches their lifespan and maybe their grandfathers? Why not getting back to 22 holes? Of Daw Anderson's changes?
12.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob
Lavin, why can't we have one acknowledged standard, even a template, if you will, and let the tinkering occur elsewhere? There won't be another St. Andrews, but there are thousand of other sites to "update", "renovate", "Tiger proof", and just f... with. And to what purpose this episode? One tourney every five years? Ego? Hubris? Why the hell not? The balance just doesn't seem right, TL, and one needn't be a "purist" to feel it.
12.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer

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