Another enjoyable piece by Darius Oliver after he's had a chance to digest Peter Dawson's remarks about the "hysteria" over changing the Old Course. This time addressing the difference between Dawson/Hawtree and the last Old Course tinkerer, Old Tom Morris.
Lets not forget, that the last major design changes made to The Old Course were by Old Tom Morris. At the time Old Tom was keeper of the green at St Andrews. He was the head greenkeeper, the club maker, the ball maker, caddie master and the town’s chief professional. He played with princes and paupers, and knew every blade of grass on that course better than anyone who has ever lived.
It should also be noted that golf was much simpler back then. Leading players couldn’t hit the ball 400 yards and because most played match rounds rather than stroke rounds it wouldn’t have mattered anyway if they could. Old Tom wasn’t protecting par, he was providing practical solutions to very real problems, and with the interests of all players firmly in mind.
Old Tom in the late 1800s was a genuine golfing icon, and almost unchallenged as the authority on both The Old Course and the business of course design. It’s not a reputation Martin Hawtree enjoys, for as nice a man as he is the truth remains that very little of his design work is well regarded.
He also dissects Dawson's interpretation of the second hole strategy and like me, is left confused about what the R&A Chief Executive interprets as the best way to play the hole with his new bunkers. Of course, I'm still trying to figure out Dawson's protection of the Road hole rough that stops balls from heading toward the worst angle of attack.