And therein lies the crux of the debate: is the links in its present configuration and condition worth preserving? Or has the damage already been done? One of the few areas on which both sides are agreed is that the course is a long way from the one on which those five far-off Open champions learned the game.
So is it too late to save what is left of the Musselburgh links? And is it worth saving? While any number of mistakes have been made over the years - the short fifth, for example, had two nonsensical and wholly inappropriate bunkers added behind the green as recently as the past decade - and the course itself is best described as shabby, it is difficult for any golfer not to hope instinctively for its salvation.
As to what may or may not still happen, both sides are already preparing for the on-going battle.
"I'm still confident the golf course will regain its pride and that the interests of the club will be looked after," says MacGregor, at the same time acknowledging that the public inquiry came as "a bit of a surprise".
On the other hand, Colville is delighted at the latest development. "I'm still not sure of ultimate victory; far from it," he adds. "But I think we have a far better chance of winning in a public forum than we did when it was up to the Executive. We have support across the town from all sorts of people, and that has to count for something."
I really disliked the Butler Cabin ceremony at Augusta. I always felt that the best thing to do would be to go right to the public presentation of the green jacket, with emotions still at a fever pitch and all the people and a national TV audience there to see it. To go inside the flower-infested catacombs of the Butler Cabin and watch the club chairmen perform the ceremony they were helpless — really let the air out of the balloon. One year Hord Hardin asked Bernhard Langer how he pronounced his name. Another year he asked Seve how tall he was. I would watch this with my face in my hands, but the club wouldn't have it any other way. Oh, well. FRANK CHIRKINIAN