Ogilvy On R&A Motives For Changing Old Course: Embarrassing, Disgusting, Sneaky

Thanks to Darius Oliver for alerting us to Paul Prendergast's lengthy interview with Geoff Ogilvy touching on a number of hot button issues but I couldn't help but focus on his remarks about the R&A's changes to the Old Course at St. Andrews.

He joins fellow Aussie Peter Thomson in denouncing not only the idea of changing the course to produce higher scores, but also the secretive and deceptive process by which the changes were conceived and executed.

It’s disappointing in that the whole point of it is to make us shoot a slightly higher score every five years [at The Open], and it’s embarrassing – disgusting – that they’re doing it for that reason. I mean .. it’s hard to have the words to describe the arrogance of doing something like that, it’s incredible.


The reason the sport is what it is, is because of St Andrews. It didn’t evolve to the point where it’s at because of people doing what they’re doing right now. It evolved, it didn’t get designed. It came because of nature, all the balls finishing in one place so there were lots of divots and that spot became a bunker. It’s the first place that anyone should ever study when they think about golf course architecture.

This was nice too...there goes Geoff's Royal and Ancient Golf Club membership chances. Join the women of the world.

I think the thing that really affected most people that got emotional about it was the way they went about it. Making a sneaky little announcement the same weekend everyone was talking about the long putter ban. The bulldozers were out the next day. Surely the Old Course deserves a round table of the smartest people in golf with the best intentions and to discuss it for two years before you do anything?

And this is such a key point about the 11th green, and speaks to the absurdity of trying to force uniform green speeds on a course, especially the Old.

They've done plenty of bunker work for maintenance reasons over time but changing contours that have evolved and adding to the 11th green to provide extra pin placements are pretty fundamental changes ...

It’s been fine for 400 years, in the form it’s in it’s been fine for a hundred years. It’s fine!

I mean, if they get crazy wind and you can’t put a pin up the back left on 11 then, oh well. Or, you just have that green running two feet slower than the others. We're the best golfers in the world, surely we can work out that the green is slower. We’re not that precious.