Martin Dempster talks to a suddenly-eager-to-gab Peter Dawson, who, because of the anchoring ban, didn't have the time to alert the world that his organization (the R&A, not to be confused with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews) was inflicting their ideas on the world's most historic course.
First, there was this statement about the craftsmanship of Dawson's consulting associate architect, Martin Hawtree, which drew howls of laughter from anyone who has seen the 17th green at Birkdale.
He also insisted plenty of changes had already been made to the Old Course over the years, pointing to pictorial evidence as proof of that, and believes Martin Hawtree is the perfect man to be implementing the alterations as “one of his great strengths is making changes look as though they have always been there”.
Guess he missed the comments the last time Hawtree made a major change at a rota course. (Warning, there's also a photo of the "looks like it's always been there" work in question.)
As for not properly communicating world that he was meddling with the most influential design on the planet, Dawson almost took the high road.
“You would have to ask the Links Trust about consultation because that was their exercise,” he said. “I’m not trying to pass the buck to the Links Trust,
No, not at all!
but they handled all the local conversations that took place, we didn’t. That is the normal practice as they have the courses. If we were making alterations at Royal Troon, it would be Royal Troon that would talk to the members, not us unless we were requested to join in.
Yes, too busy making alterations at Open courses to try and mask our regulatory ineptitude to have time to share the plans with the public. Besides, the clock was ticking!
“The best time of year to do anything like this, turfing etc, is November into early December. If it hadn’t gotten started when it did we would have been waiting another year for the best season to do it in. That wasn’t something that anyone wanted.
And this is just funny:
“I would say there was quite a lot of comment about the changes from people who have not been able to take the time to study what they are.
Maybe because some just found out about them two weeks ago and there is still nothing publicly viewable showing the Photoshopped depictions of the changes unless you walk onto the Old Course to see the signs posted at tees? Just a thought!
Of course, so much of this is the fault of the world daring to care about St. Andrews. You know, the world that comes and spends money there because it's a revered place and all.
"As people have become more familiar with what the changes are, a lot of the criticism has actually turned into reasonable support. I think some of the announcement was directed at telling local people that there was going to be work on the course as opposed to some great international announcement about Old Course re-design. It was never meant to be that but, of course, in this modern era as soon as you announce something in the darkest corner of Fife it appears in Japan in a nano-second.”
Blimey 21st Century! Next think you know they'll be wanting to know why we don't have wom...eh forget it.