Rearranging the Furniture

Mike Aitken on the reshuffling of holes at Royal Liverpool Hoylake:
Donald Steel, the architect who oversaw the latest round of changes, modestly insists he has just "rearranged the furniture".

Nevertheless, even Steel concedes the decision to open the batting with what was previously the 17th, means Hoylake will now confront the game's best players with "as stout an opening hole as any on the Open rota".

The old first, now the third, with out of bounds on the right, is as fierce as ever. After once sending five balls out of play there, Jamie Anderson, the winner of three Opens, rued: "My God, it's like playing up a spout."

Change has been gradual at Hoylake rather than violent with the links showing a modest increase in length of 122 yards, to 7,258 yards, compared to the Amateur Championship in 2000. More telling was the rearranging of certain holes so that the par-5 16th, where de Vicenzo struck that famous 3-wood, has become the new 18th.

"We have slightly rearranged the way the holes are played to set competitors a more challenging finish," explained Dawson.

"The last three holes add up to nearly 1,600 yards and the 18th in particular has enough room around it to meet the [spectator] demands of a modern 72nd hole. Measuring 560 yards, the last will present a birdie opportunity, but as a left to right dog-leg with out of bounds ever present on the right, it will also be a hole for potential disaster. A lot will happen over those holes and anyone in the lead with three left to play may not be in the lead at the end."