Lawrence Donegan reports on the significant changes to Birkdale (analyzed in a post below) for the 2008 Open Championship. Donegan has this quote from Peter Dawson, who is defending the need to drastically change a storied Open venue:
"Players are getting bigger, better and stronger and we, in conjunction with the golf club itself, felt there was the need to keep the test of golf presented by Birkdale up to date. Technology has [also] been a factor in these changes. It is advancing and it would be daft for the Open Championship organisers not to recognise that fact."
But here's Dawson the day after July's Open Championship finished, an event where the driving distance average was up 27 yards over the previous Open:
"Hitting distances have reached a plateau. This is definitely happening; all this discussion that players are hitting the ball further is not true."
Donegan also writes:
...the news that a venue acknowledged by some as the best on the Open Championship rota is to undergo such extensive surgery will add fuel to the on-going debate over the introduction of a new ball, not least because this announcement comes days after a similar plan to toughen up another Open venue, Turnberry.
The Scottish course is to gain an extra 200 yards as well as 30 new bunkers in time to host the Open in 2009. "We needed to meet the challenges of the modern game," Paul Burley, Turnberry's director of golf, said yesterday. "The players are so much more athletic, the ball is flying so much further and golf technology has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years.
30 new bunkers?
These guys make Hootie's approach to Augusta look subtle, tender and respectful.