Dawson To The Rescue

At least when the USGA messes with a time-tested golf course, they try to act like it was someone else's idea. Preferably, a golf architect.

turnberry-lighthouse.jpgNot the R&A. Mike Aitken writes about the effort to inundate Turnberry with more driver-eliminating bunkers. Donald Steel is the supervising architect, but he's not the one making the decisions.

"There are a number of other changes in the pipeline which are yet to be finalised between ourselves and the Royal and Ancient," [Turnberry GM Stewart] Selbie added. "The discussions are ongoing. Obviously, there are going to be some changes to championship tees. Just adding length to the links is not necessarily the answer, although there are a couple of instances where we will be looking to add a little more distance around the 16th and 17th holes."

Concerned that Turnberry's finishing stretch, which brought out the best in Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson in 1977, is not quite as testing as it once was for a new generation of players who all hit the ball further than their predecessors, the R&A is examining a number of options related to the positioning of tees and greens.

David Hill, the R&A's director of championships, said: "Peter Dawson, our chief executive, is due to visit Turnberry later in February and will have a look at three different options. As it stands, we think we could make the 17th even better."

Now, anyone can hang out a sign and call themselves an architect. Guilty as charged.

But is it really the job of the R&A Executive Secretary to meddle in course design?

Well, it beats doing something about the distance problem.