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Tinkering (or Tampering) with the Old Course at St. Andrews Sparks Huge Debate

by Craig Better

Dec42012

You probably heard about the changes underway at the Old Course at St. Andrews.

What you may not have heard is just how big a flap this has created.

Outraged at the idea of tinkering (or is it tampering?) with one of golf’s most important shrines, Old Course advocates have mobilized.

Someone started a “Stop the Changes to the Home of Golf” petition on Change.org.

Likewise, there’s now a popular, #SavetheOldCourse thread on Twitter.

I don’t know if anyone has started an “Occupy St. Andrews” movement, but it can’t be far away.

Here’s the debate in a nutshell, and I’d love to get your thoughts on it:

With their eyes on the 2015 Open Championship, the R&A and St. Andrews Links Trust want to, “ensure [the Old Course] remains as challenging as ever to the professionals.”

So, they hired architect Martin Hawtree to make changes to about half the holes on the course — mainly moving, adding, removing, and resizing bunkers (including widening the Road Hole bunker); replacing a depression with a mound; and re-contouring greens.

On one side, you’ve got people like architect Tom Doak, who wrote to golf’s international architectural community saying he was “horrified” to learn of the changes to this “sacred ground” and that this “international treasure” should largely remain “untouched.”

On the other side, you’ve got people like Golf Digest architecture editor Ron Whitten who say the Old Course is not above being tweaked.

“Sacred ground? The Old Course was built on sand, not carved in stone. It’s a golf course to be played, not a monument to be worshiped,” Whitten wrote in reaction to Doak’s, and he cites some old and newer modifications to support his claim that the Old Course, “like Augusta National, has been changing all the time.”

What do you think?

Is it OK to make changes to the Old Course or should it remain untouched?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

{ 110 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Layton Lyon December 4, 2012 at 5:50 pm

All golf courses age with time and this takes a toll on tees, greens and bunkers.
At some point all golf courses need to be tweaked or refreshed if you will so they are playable for generations to come. It will still have all the character, charm and challenge that it always has.

2 sandy December 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm

I think they should make the changes need to keep up with the wailing of the other courses the players play

3 Ron Masterson December 4, 2012 at 5:58 pm

DO NOT CHANGE!!!!!

4 Rod Stark December 4, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I vote leave it alone,while I see point it is not above improving,there is
just to much history.

5 Landy Blank December 4, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Ron has a point but I’m with Doak on this one. Leave it alone!!

6 Bob December 4, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Keep it the same and make them play with the older technology or call God and tell him so he can bring in the weather

7 Wade Hanson December 4, 2012 at 6:11 pm

The Old Course should not be changed. This is a special place. When you step on the first tee there is a feeling that is good. Do not take that away. Frankly it is amazing that the course has withstood the test of time and should continue to do so. wade Hanson

8 Bill Munro December 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Changing landscape and bunker configurations doesn’t alter the history that the Old Course represents, but don’t touch the structural aspects (The Bridge, the clubhouse, etc). Make the Course playable for future Open tournaments, so that the history can be ongoing.

9 Bob Schull December 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm

With all the changes to golf courses and player equipment over the last 20 years, it’s good to have a place that reflects the original game. The question should be who wants the changes and why. Change for change sake is never the right reason.

10 Kelly Mutch December 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Tom Doak is right – leave it alone!

11 Robert December 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Most everything in golf has changed since the Old Course was founded, from clothing to balls, to clubs to size of golfers! Why not the course?
To provide the greatest possible challenge to the best golfers in the world – make the change – the name will stay the same i.e. Augusta National.

12 Michael December 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm

In my humble opinion just make the necesarry maintenance so the golf course remains as it was designed.

13 Gabe December 4, 2012 at 6:32 pm

I agree with Tom Doak! No changes, all it needs is some bad weather and wind to be tough not tweaking!

14 Anonymous December 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Leave it the way it is. It has proven a challenge for 500 years, it still is a challenge today and will be in 2015. And if they shoot 62, so be it (not likely). The course requires precision and strategy, the same precision and strategy as it has for every Open Championship since 1873; it should be kept it that way. I want to compare the 2005 winner to the 1905 winner; the 2010 winner to the 1910 winner, and so on. If it is not the same course, that opportunity goes away.

Leave it alone.

15 Matt Craze December 4, 2012 at 6:49 pm

As a 16-year old during vacations with my dad I walked around St. Andrews during the 1990 Open. Nick Faldo won -18 after four rounds in good weather, a low score for a major championship. I vowed to come back to play this wonderful golf course, and I’m planning to finally play it on the day of my 40th (June 2014). As a BrIt and a seasoned golfer I would hate to see it with white sand or waste bunkers and any of the such like. But it’s clear that the Old Course is not the challenge it should be, especially when other British Open venues such as Lytham or St. Georges can make discreet changes to be a sufficient challenge in the age of modern balls and clubs. That said, most amateur golfers will find the Old Course more than a sufficient challenge. Surely the answer lies somewhere in the middle (like most things in life) — grow the rough, lengthen the tees for Open, etc, but leave the Old Course as the historical treasure that is now for the average golfer.

16 Phil Erli December 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm

First of all the Old Course is not Augusta National. It is a piece of history that has helped define the game. In its present form it has been studied and analyzed by nearly every famous golf architect for the last 150 years. I want my great grandchildren to have the opportunity to play the Old Course just as I did and all of the people before me all the way back to Allan Robertson and Old Tom.
Lastly, it isn’t all about the golf course. It is still a severe test for any player in the conditions that are part of the normal environment at St. Andrews. In the wind, any hole on that golf course is more than enough challenge.

17 Mike Henderson December 4, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Leave her alone and change the monstrosity that is called a driver and the guided missile that is used as a ball. As Nicklaus said, “fix the ball and 99% of golf will correct itself.”

18 Bob Fennell December 4, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Stop the changes, the course was formed by the winds of time, The Old Course willalways be a great course and is hard enough just ask those who miss the cut or have never won leave the course as is. Bob Fennell President Classic Golf Destinations

19 Brad Smith December 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm

The reason for change is: it is too easy for the pros to score low there with the modern driver and ball. And the R&A is embarassed. There is a simple, no cost solution……..Leave the course as is, then, the R&A should declare that for the Open Championship, a 1960 ball design be used. 270 yd tee shots. 130 yard 9 irons. A 480 yd par 4 will not play as drive/9 iron. It will be drive and 5 wood or 3 hybrid. The scores will look like they did for much of history again, and it will be just as big a challenge as it was in “those” days, when for years and years it did NOT require changes to protect the challenge.

And then maybe the PGA would have the guts to do the same thing for PGA Tour events.

(don’t worry…….my anti-delusional medication will kick in soon)

20 John December 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm

The Old Course should be left alone. No changes are going to make this course difficult for today’s professionals. Its only defense is the wind (no wind = low scores, stiff breeze = high scores). The only positive is Martin Hawtree is a traditionalist, so the changes should be in keeping with the character of the course.

21 Michael December 4, 2012 at 7:04 pm

It is a piece of history and one of few places that you can play the course and know that it is the same course as 100 years ago. Do the maintenance to make keep it as it was intended to be.

22 LWB December 4, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Some areas of the golf course wear down from the weather; greens invariably change, bunkers loose their shape. They need updated. Careful and thoughtful updates are necessary

23 Cyndi Peck December 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm

There’s a reason it’s called The Old Course. I’m not sure how it isn’t considered a challenge to the PGA players of today. I don’t recall anyone carding scores at any of The Open tournaments that would justify the course being considered too easy. I hope it’s left unchanged and I’m glad I’ve been lucky enough to play it.

24 Ray Sobieski December 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm

St. Andrews is what it is. Leave it alone! What difference does it make if the winning score is -10 or -1? The best golfer will still win.

25 Tee December 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Leave it alone! Yes take good care of it and ensure it is in great condition. The Old Course is a gem please don’t crack this diamond.

26 Jon H. December 4, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I have played the Old Oourse and it needs to keep up with the times due to equipment and ball improvements. If you do not think it should be changed then go back to playing with real wood clubs.

27 Bob Johnson December 4, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Why is it always about the “professionals”. They might represent 1% (proabably .1%) of the world golfers. Let’s try to remember the many who played St. Anrews so we could say we did. Not that we played like the professionals. They will still come to play, Bob

28 Topflight December 4, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Another great course along with a lot of other great course’s that can’t challenge the pro golfers because the R&A and USGA didn’t step in and stop Big Bertha as well as the golf ball!!! I think we start a movement to bring golf back!!

29 Bob December 4, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Leave it alone just let the rough grow and speed up the greens
Don’t try and be like the USGA

30 Lance Kulman December 4, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I believe that all course can be tweeked a bit or even a more than a bit, but that the tweeking should not interfer with the overall integrity of the course and how it was originally intended to play. If the Old Course at St. Andrews still looks similiar and plays as tough as it always has, then golfers worldwide should welcome their decision to go ahead with the changes.

31 Learnedithere December 4, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Just as Augusta National is no longer a Jones/McKenzie track (it’s a Fazio/Johnson), Hawtree, the R&A and others need to respect the legacy of the Old Course. Maintaining is not the same as “keeping” the course “competitive”. Do we make an American football first down 12 yds instead of 10 and the field 120 yds long because players are bigger and stronger than they were in Lombardi’s days? Why are baseball parks SMALLER now, even though players are stronger due to better nutrition? Whitten and others must understand that once things are altered, the very qualities that made them special are destroyed. In summary, in this digital age, should we digitize Ansel Adams’ works (negatives/prints) and “improve” his prints?? Let the creations of the past be maintained and preserved for future generations to enjoy, not altered because we can and justify it in the name of “progress”. If necessary, put featheries and hickories in the hands of the “great” modern players for the Open and let’s see how well they can score! Enough is enough.

32 Hal December 4, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Please do not remove, add, or resize anything (including widening the Road Hole bunker); or replacing any depression with a mound; or re-contour any greens. The course is magnificant as it is. Don’t change its tradition, and alter the records set by so many legendary golfers who have made there mark here.

33 Hal December 4, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Please do not remove, add, or resize anything (including widening the Road Hole bunker); or replacing any depression with a mound; or re-contour any greens. The course is magnificant as it is. Don’t change its tradition, and alter the records set by so many legendary golfers who have made there mark here.

34 Scott Lougheed December 4, 2012 at 8:16 pm

As someone who has played it twice, and walked it even more, I really love the quirks. I hope that doesn’t change. However, histroy buffs know that players used to play it backwards, in reverse order so to speak. That’s why some of the bunkers don’t seem to be where they should be, they were designed for hickory and gutta percha balls! Oddly enough, with new equipment some of these odd placements are coming back into play. On balance though, I am a 9 hdcp and I drove 2 of the par 4′s (9 and 10) albeit on a calm day, so it probably needs a touch of lenghtening, such as when they added a tee box on 17 recently. The question is how much to tweak without spoiling it, and I’m quite sure the good old staid R&A are very much keeping things under control and within reason. A good score back in ol’ Toms day was 80, now the pros shoot low 60′s if the wind stays down. It doesn’t need much work, but to just say “don’t touch it” is probably equally irresponsible. All courses, thanks to rampant equipment changes and new balls, need some defence and upgrades…look at Augusta, and its actually better now, with one or two holes excepted, where they went too far (#8, for ex)Lets hope they don’t go “too far” but I’m sure they won’t. The R&A is not Donald Trump.

35 Mike Sonneman December 4, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I made a special trip to play the Old Course back in 2009. It was a Magical Experience. I hope they leave the course alone, who cares how low the pros shoot. It is a very special place that I dreamed of playing for over 20 years. Don’t spoil the dreams of golfers all over the world who have the same dream. Just because Augusta has the money to change their course all the time doesn’t mean everyone should do it. PLEASE LEAVE IT ALONE !!!!

36 Bob December 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm

It is Mecca. It is a shrine. It is what it is. It is not for some modern day hot shot designer to mess with and bring up to date for the pros. I have enjoyed playing the Old Course feeling the sanctity; feeling that Old Tom played this ground. I can see some maintenance if a bunker is falling apart or some such thing, but otherwise leave it be.

37 Allen Sloane December 4, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Play it as it lies. Keep one place as much the same as possible.

38 Joseph December 4, 2012 at 8:39 pm

With the exception of Old Tom Morris designing a couple of holes, The Old Course was designed by God, and I feel it should stay that way.

39 Howie December 4, 2012 at 8:41 pm

It shoud be maintained in its original configuration as much as possible with leveling tees and repairing damage however caused. Wouldn’t players a century from now appreciate this home of golf as it has existed since the double greens made it a playable 18. If the golf gods need more challenge for their Open, find other options for tuning it up.

Fix Prestwick.

40 Don Scott (Perth Australia) December 4, 2012 at 8:43 pm

I have played ST.Andrews 3 times plus the other courses and it is a challenge for anyone that play the courses.There is know need to change it at all. The course is great leave it as it is there is know other course like it and it has stood the test of time and will for other generations

41 Tom December 4, 2012 at 8:45 pm

I agree with Tom Doak to a degree. Courses do change over time just by
use and maintenance. They should try to maintain the original course.
What would be better is to get the USGA and R and A to have the pros
equipment regulated, so the distance they hit the ball would not make the classic courses obsolete.

42 David December 4, 2012 at 8:46 pm

All golf courses change with time but it doesn’t mean they lose their character

43 PJ Thompson December 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm

All golf courses evolve. Foot traffic, wind and rain alter bunkers. Top dressing slowly lifts the level and contour of greens. Maintenance practices alter the shape of tees, fairways and greens. Mother nature alters everything. So the only question really is how the change will come. Do we accept everything that occurs naturally as sacred, or do we allow for human intervention, and debate the merits? ‘Leave it alone’ is not an option…

44 Jeff December 4, 2012 at 8:53 pm

So here we have it. Modernize the old course to suit the new game, but keep the putting stroke the way it was 600 years ago. Don’t the golf bureaucrats have nothing better to do than dream up ways to keep themselves busy?

45 FXF December 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm

The changes would be unnecessary if the ruling bodies had controlled the golf ball. The 50th ranked driving distance this year on the PGA Tour was 295 yards. In 1997, before the ProV1 was invented, it was 264. This is why classic courses — none more classic than The Old Course — need radical surgery. Baseball didn’t let this happen to baseball, tennis has reigned in its balls, but golf? No, golf says 8000 yard courses, 6 hour rounds, and a boring marches on straight lines from tee to ball, fairway to green, is somehow more interesting and better for the game. Not true! Golf is DYING because of the lack of leadership by the R&A and USGA.

46 Ron Fortner December 4, 2012 at 8:57 pm

I agree with Tom Doak and others about leaving it as it is, it’s the game’s treasure. I do wonder though what Mr Doak would have done would the Links Trust come calling him instead of Martin Hawtree?? Would the allure of having your name on the Old Course have changed his mind?

47 Ken December 4, 2012 at 8:59 pm

This is painful, but you have to be able to change it. I do not think lesser of Augusta National after it has gone through rounds of changes. For a player of my abilities, the Old Course is a rollicking test. However, for hosting the best players and me, I have to trust those trusted with preserving the Old Course. I will want to go back after the changes.

48 Bryan Grosscup December 4, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Isn’t it pretty awesome to think of the people who hit out of the same bunker you did, or putted on the same greens? Now the stories will be “Back in 2010, before they increased the size of the Road Hole bunker,…” etc, etc. That’s also like saying the Valley of Sin is now the Mound of Sin. I think it’s dumb to make changes to the course, and I would argue to a degree it is a monument, it just happens to be one you can play golf on. And isn’t the course for the public? It’s a park on Sunday’s for gosh sakes. Why would you change the course to make it more difficult so that a handful of professional golfers can shoot not quite as low of scores for 4 days every 5 or so years?

49 John December 4, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Some minor tweaks but nothing major PLEASE. The road bunker is unique and dictates play, as do many of the others on this quirky, fantastic layout. It’s not like the scores are ridiculous and it still favors shot making over raw length. You want a challenge at the ’15 Open, how about growing the rough, slow down the greens and fairways and make it play like the classic old time links it is. Then hope for some weather.

50 Pablo Sola December 4, 2012 at 9:29 pm

The Old Course is that… take it or leave it!
You cannot pretend transform it in another one. What would be next? Change the greens to PennCross? Make an island green on # 8?
Please… as many others said: LEAVE IT ALONE !!!

51 Lex December 4, 2012 at 9:30 pm

A big concern for me is: how will the changes affect handicap golfers? If they put the pro tees on the other side of the Old Course Hotel but keep the play reasonably consistent for us normal golfers, that is ok with me.

That said, I do wonder why the USGA and R&A don’t dial the ball back. It is absurd to have all these courses spending huge amounts of money to move earth, when the whole problem could be solved by by fairly minor tweaks in the golf ball specs. After all, the ball has changed substantially several times since the game began. Is the current ball spec more “sacred” than the turf of St Andrews?

52 Doug December 4, 2012 at 9:47 pm

I believe the greens and famous bunkers should remain the same. The only changes should be smaller fairways and longer tee boxes.

53 tom elliott December 4, 2012 at 10:05 pm

change, is the name of the game in today’s world. sure, if its needs to be modified, then modify it. what is the big deal. i have not been lucky enough to get there, but have seen it on tv & mags. they won’t screw it up. just make it tougher for the big boys.

54 Ben December 4, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Anyone who has played the Old Course can tell you that all it needs to be the hardest course you ever have played is for the wind to blow. The charm of playing the Old Course (for the regular people who play it the 360 days a year that it isn’t hosting a pro tournament) is that you can see all of the spots where history was made. One of the many reasons why it is the coolest course on the planet is that the first time you play it, you have this amazing sense of deja vu. Every hole, bunker, green, and even pin placement brings back memories of tournaments you’ve seen in the past.

And who cares if someone shoots a -25 at the Open? Lowest score still wins. Don’t change this course.

55 Anonymous December 4, 2012 at 11:14 pm

leave it alone!!! these pros wil be gone in a few years. the course will be there for ever(we hope).thus we can see what “old tom “did with the clubs he had!!and the shots hhe could hit!!

56 gary slatter December 5, 2012 at 12:37 am

sod sided bunkers need to be rebuilt every 10 years, otherwise LEAVE THE OLD COURSE the way it is now.

57 Doug Roberts December 5, 2012 at 12:41 am

Seeing as numerous changes have occured to the Old in the past 20 years. It use to play to 6544. For the Open it plays at 7100 or so. New teeboxes have been put in on numerous holes. They redid 17 Bunker a few years ago……This is all about nothing….Why yell now? Where was the yelling previously? They have continually made little tweaks to keep the Old relevant to the games best so they wouldn’t shoot 30 under. So another tweak is now deemed inappropriate….I Think Not. The R&A is forward thinking and makes appropriate stances for the betterment of the game.

58 JohnnyV December 5, 2012 at 12:46 am

In 2004 my two boys and I traveled to Scotland to play St. Andrews. We entered the ballot (lottery) the first Monday we were there and received the best tee time- the first tee time- at 630 the following morning. The next 3 and a half hours we wre jumping for joy. My older son drove the ninth green and birdied it and I got a picture of both the ball in the air off his driver and the ball toppling into the hole. My youngest son beat me with a 30-footer for par on the last hole right after I three-putted. A Scotsman reacted to my son’s putt with a loud “Atta boy, son.” Memories that never go away. A 16×20 of my boys and I on the swilken bridge hands in our front room. Every morning I tip my coffee cup to my boys. My point in all this is ot hang unto your memories with the folks you love. Change the Old Course? Argue if you must. I choose to thank God for the opportunity to walk the SACRED GROUND with my sons. Whether it is changed or not, nothing will take that memory away.

59 Gary December 5, 2012 at 12:58 am

Been there…about 8 years ago….would NOT have been a destination, if it lost it’s old world charm….I’d rather they go tinker with the Edinburgh Castle..

60 Steve Pearson December 5, 2012 at 2:40 am

When are the R and A and the USGA going to figure out that the vast majority of golfers play the game for fun and could care less what the professionals shoot on the Old Course or anywhere else for that matter.They screwed up by not controling the golf ball and now they want to compensate by destroying the tradition of the Old Course for a tournament that’s played every 6 or 7 years? Play your Open Championship somewhere else and leave the best golf course in the world alone. While they’re at it maybe they can come up with another hair brained idea like banning the anchored stroke that’s been practiced for 80 years to drive more people away from the game .

61 ROBERT MILICH December 5, 2012 at 2:49 am

I AM MORE A TRADITIONALIST. AS ONE OF THE TRUE HOMES OF GOLF, I WOULD RATHER THE OLD COURSE BE LEFT AS IS. BUT THEN AGAIN, I THOUGHT AUGUSTA SHOULD HAVE BEEN LEFT ALONE TOO.

62 Colin December 5, 2012 at 7:27 am

Sacrilege! That said, Martin Hawtree is a very good designer but for heavens sake leave the Old Course alone. There is an obvious solution if courses are getting “smaller” – change the ball! But the R&A and USGA find this too hard, much better to spend millions changing courses and making the game more expensive for everyone.

63 Bruce December 5, 2012 at 9:15 am

Leave it alone. Roll back the ball!

64 Charlie December 5, 2012 at 9:37 am

I’m with Tom Doak, leave the coarse alone.

If the R&A wants to make the 2015 Open more challenging, why not institute a change in the equipment for the pros. Require them to play the Open Championship with circa 1860 equipment. Now that would make for a very interesting tournament. ;^)

65 Burt Bines December 5, 2012 at 10:05 am

With all due respect to Ron Whitten, comparing this to Augusta is ridiculous. Very few of us will ever have the opportunity to play Augusta or some of the other storied great courses but also very private. The Old Course, however, is and has been open to all golfers worldwide, all of whom come to play these hallowed grounds as they have almost always been. We come to test our skills against history and all those greats who have come before us. To stand on the 1st tee or walk up the 18th is so very special and any modification would destroy this unique golf experience. Moreover, it’s not like the course is a pushover for today’s pros. When Tiger slaughtered Augusta, he was hitting 9 irons into par 5′s. Ask Tiger what’s wrong with the Road Hole other than killing many pro’s chance at the Claret Jug.

66 David Burriss December 5, 2012 at 10:06 am

The course needs to be constantly changing to keep up with the talent, equipment, and tournaments. The features that make it unique should be enhanced and multiplied to keep it a viable entity on golf’s world stage.

67 Jim Mackrell December 5, 2012 at 10:41 am

Leave it the way it is. Many golfers from around the world have gotten to know and love all the little quirks and remember their rounds .

68 CEWoods December 5, 2012 at 10:49 am

Nothing wrong with a little change. The course is what 400 years old and was changed last some 100 years ago. I wonder if everyone commenting has looked at the proposed changes. I understand, for example, two “green side” bunkers which are some 40/50 yards to the right of a green will be moved closer. A pro has not been in either of those bunkers for what 100 years, I would guess. The only change I do not like (nor does Tiger) is widening the road hole bunker some 20 inches – good news is that few will realize it, but why tweek a dominate feature that will have at best marginal impact and isn’t absolutely needed?

69 Richard December 5, 2012 at 10:52 am

There’s nothing wrong with “tweaking” the course to keep it current (greens, bunkers, etc.). Putting in some tournament Tee boxes to add length for the Touring Pro’s while maintaining the integrity of the course could be an answer. The real problem is figuring out how to regulate the ball flight technology, it’s outpacing a courses ability to defend itself. The “horse is out of the barn” on this issue and something needs to be done for the sake of the game we all appreciate.

70 Ron Greene December 5, 2012 at 11:20 am

Leave it alone! Why do people think that everything that changes will be for the better? Too many peole think THEY know better and THEY have divine wisdom on what is best for EVERYONE. Ha, if the winning score at the British open is 235 (59 59 59 59) I don’t care; good show! This is a public golf course intended for public play. The fact that the public ALLOWS the pros to play on their course, speaks volumes, the people voice should be the only one that counts. If the British Open decides to drop St Andrews from the rota, their loss, not ours. Let the rain fall, the wind howl, and the temperature drop; and it won’t matter what changes they make — because all changes will be negated by the elements. That’s links golf — that’s the allure of St Andrews — playing the ball below the wind, along the ground, and taking the funny bounces all part of the game. I have played St Andrews in fair weather and foul — it makes a huge difference; and hope some day my son will play there on the same course that I played. Maybe these “smartest guys in the room” need to ask thenmselves, are they advocating this for the good of the game for EVERYONE including future generations they may actually want to play a course that is exactly like the one their fathers or grandfathers played; or as I suspect, they are doing this for their own egos and being able to say I “tweeked” St Andrews. . If you don’t like or can’t compete on links courses don’t play — there are plenty of boring 7800 yard course for these gurus to play with — LEAVE ST ANDREWS ALONE!!

71 Joe Picket December 5, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Make the change’s. The game improvements have passed the old course by. St. Andrews needs to change with the times.

72 David Ellis December 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Changes are always necessary!! Look at all the golf courses in USA, and the world.

We even change old courses in the Toronto area like The Toronto Golf Club

73 Bob December 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Leave it ALONE – Maintenance and Repair, Yes; Modifications, NO!!!

Grow the ROUGH; Speed up the Greens & Slow down the Fairways – then pray for Wind & Rain.

74 Casey McMullin December 5, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Please don’t change it!!! One of the main reasons to have it on your “I’ll play it before I die” list is that it’s been played by every famous player in history and you’d like to play it as they played it. The changes are NOT necessary, design a “St Andrews” ball but don’t change that masterpiece. Please!!!

75 Terry Gardner December 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Leave this course alone as it is. There will never be another chance to have a golf course as it was in the beginning of the sport. There are plenty of courses yet to be developed. As far as the Golf Digest architech’s comments ask him if he would like to give his mother a new face. I don’t think so. The Old Course should be destined to remain as is.

76 david bentley December 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Leave it alone but make everyone play with pre-1980 persimmons and blades. Golf is too easy today.

77 Gonzo December 6, 2012 at 4:08 am

Why”modernise” it? Does it matter if the Open is won with 10-under or 20-under, and given the variable weather there maybe some years it will be won with level par.
St Andrews Old Course is history and history should never be rewritten.
If “updating” is necessary, perhaps Big Ben should be made digital, The Gettysburgh Address rewritten, and condo’s built in the grounds around the White House.

78 William Frentzel December 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I agree with changes necessary for playability, e.g. according to Peter Dawson of the R&A, the Road Hole Bunker is being standardized (in the past it has had various configuarations and needs to be rebuilt every few years). Also the contours on the back left of #11 green have had no viable pin positions for a number of years-fixing that seems reasonable. However I disagree with changing any mounding or contours on the fairways-leave it as it is. In other words fix what needs fixing from a playability standpoint but leave the rest alone.

79 scott glazier December 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Having played the Old Course 5 times, I fall into the Sacred Ground territory. Already they have moved tees back at 17 changing that hole, but to tinker with bunkering, especially the Road Hole bunker on perhaps what is already the greatest par 4 in the World? No, please do not do this!

80 Brad December 6, 2012 at 4:01 pm

why change it , the players are not asking for that . its a piece of history , best left untouched .

81 Jeff December 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I have played the old course three times and those were the three most treasured rounds of my life. Do not change what God so beautifully made.

82 Jim Ho December 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Leave it alone – it has been there over 100 years – if you want something different, go build a new course.

83 Gerry December 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm

While changing the course to present a modern challenge to the professionals has some merit, it would ruin the experience for the average golfer. As the professionals only play it once in a while, the average population plays there every day.
LEAVE THE COURSE AS IS. CHANGING IT WOULD BE A SIN!

84 Mike K December 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm

There are many beautiful women that seek surgery to enhance their looks, and many would approve. There are celebrities with natural beauty and would choose to leave their appearance as is. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

I’ve never been to the Old Course, but have seen it numerous times over the past four decades. In my view she should have only very minor adjustments over time, certainly not anything that would detract from the core of who she is. Instead of continuing to make significant changes to golf courses, I agree with Mr. Nicklaus – make changes to the golf ball the pros use so not to make treasured courses obsolete. Changes don’t need to be made to other professional fields to accommodate progress in athletes. Only golf, why is that?

85 Night Writer December 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm

When you play the old course, you are playing history.
If the old course is changed, you are just playing another golf course.
If you are just playing another golf course, why play the old course?
There are plenty of modern courses to play with less time and expense.
If the powers that be want to keep the world’s golfers treking to their door,
don’t worry about the professional golfers and keep the history.

86 Frank December 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Why change the course for a few tournaments a year just to accommodate the pros. Most of the time the non pros are playing St. Andrews. And it is more than enough challenge for them. Don’t mess with success. If the weather is up even the pros can’t handle St. Andrews. Go find another course to change and destroy.

87 Dale Pescitelli December 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I’ve had the pleasure to play Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines, Pinehurst #2 and Bethpage Black. Tweaking is OK. Each has it’s own character or personality. Do not change the character of a course. Changing a bunker to a mound sounds like changing character.

88 JT December 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Let’s not confuse maintaining a historic venue with changing the design. The former is common place and necessary, but the latter is much less common because it is a risky endeavor. The whole idea of a historic site is to allow visitors (players) to experience the course as it was originally. Certain venues should not be changed. Augusta is a modern course with a lot of historic golf. Change is ok there. The Old Course is a historic site. Maintain it but don’t change it.

89 BGolfingFool December 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I think it should be left mostly untouched but some changes to a few bunkers and possibly adding a couple to guard a few certain greens (#1 ) would add to the challenge without taking away from the historic layout.

90 Carl Goins December 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm

I definitely think they should leave it alone. ALL changes to the good earth do NOT make it better. That is sort of like digging up the dead…Leave them alone,except for upkeep..

91 Gates Whiteley December 6, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Been there twice and except for the clubhouse, was not enamored. Change it all you want. Yes, it has the history, but………it is really not that challenging or that interesting to play. When the wind does not blow, anyone can score there. It is the pressure that causes high scores, not the difficulty. Unless……as said, the wind comes up.

92 Carl Newman December 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Leave it!!!

93 Dave S December 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm

I am absolutely heartbroken that the R & A would even consider making any changes to the Old Course. It sits on a pedestal all by itself. And so it should. Anyone who plays this marvelous game has heard of it and always aspires to visit and play it one day. And what are they thinking in deciding to change the Road Hole? That bunker is one of the most fiendish of all bunkers ( number 10 at Pine Valley comes close .) And the closeness of the wall behind the green! I remember Tom Watson hitting the wall to play a rebound on to the green. It took tremendous skill and shotmaking to figure out how to execute that shot.Many tournaments have been won and lost on the 17 th hole. Leave it alone!

94 Ernie December 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Do you change a Rembrandt? Do you update the pyramids? The Old Course IS what golf courses should be. Unless you can get God to change it, leave it as he made it!

95 Max Ragsdale December 6, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Please leave it alone for not only is it the home of golf but a truly remarkable piece of real estate that I hope to play before I pass on to the 19th hole in the next life. It has stood the test of time & due to the weather and the nature of the layout it will continue to do so. The experience of actually being there and walking the course would have to be surreal!!!!

96 Geo December 7, 2012 at 10:56 pm

let me guess
its probably mostly americans who comment and say change it
mostly the british say dont mess with history

the only change that makes sense is to lenghen holes if you can
like they did with the road for the last open for playing over the hotel

Its the f*cking with history…
the 100s of years of history
that I have a problem with
it its not sacred (dumb ) its historical
you wouldnt move the stones at stonehenge
because they fell over!

I see no reason for changes
after all The Open is won by who played the best not how easy or hard the course is and I am sure most people would like to see plenty of birdies and eagles

we dont need another us open one is quite enougth

:-)

97 Gerald Davis December 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Matt Craze’s comments hit the nail on the head.

98 Don Morrison December 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm

The Old Course is fine just the way it is. Like any course, it needs regular maintainance, but structural changes should be prohibited. The professional golfer, for whom these changes ar required, play about 300 rounds a year on the course. For the rest of us, who play the rest of the 41,700 rounds that are played each year, I think I speak for the vast majority who would like it to remain as is for ever. Let the PGA and R&A adapt the equipment they permit for tournaments, rather than changing every golf course. The Road Hole bunker in it’s current configuration is quite challenging enough for me, thank you very much.

99 Adam December 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm

BLASPHEMY!!!! Any changes to the Old Course would be like touching up the Mona Lisa or the sculpture of David. Hasn’t anyone a sense of history and tradition? Please don’t ruin the most historic ground in the game of golf.

100 david January 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I’ve played the Old Course three times the latest being last May and the first about ten years ago. St. Andrews is a course that has rested on it’s laurels as the “birth place of golf” and history aside is a very poor example of what Scotland has to offer a serious golfer. Yes it can be difficult when the wind blows but that’s a commonality with virtually every course over there. Aside from holes 1, 17 and 18 there is absolutely nothing memorable about the course. It is short, boring, ugly and built in such a way that one would think there was a land shortage 400 years ago. Kingsbarns on the other hand is outstanding and is only a few miles away. Yes, St. Andrews is a one of those “must play” venues but so is Pebble Beach and you won’t walk off Pebble disappointed.

101 Tom January 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Make everyone golf with the same equipment used 100 years ago, then it would still be a challenge. Otherwise improvements done right can be a good thing.

102 Learnedithere January 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm

As a follow-up, one additional comment about “advancing” the game. Changing the historic playing fields do not “advance” the game – they merely “change” the courses and not necessarily for the better. Once the alterations are done to a course in the name of “advancement”, it is no longer the same course as the designer intended. Having played the Old course over 50X over the two decades, I have watched the incremental changes with pain. I don’t care to play a Hawtree design (there are enough of them around the globe) – I care to play what Mother Nature and Tom Morris designed. If the “guardians” of the game really have the best interests of the game at heart, they would stipulate standardized equipment for the game and eliminate the free-for-all we have. Jones and McKenzie are turning in their graves given the destruction of their course – oh, BTW it is NOT better, having played it pre and post. Notice there are NO aluminum bats in baseball. But of course they won’t because of the economics at stake – oh the hypocrisy when such rationales are given!

103 Keith Howard May 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Nicklaus (who is still the best golfer in history) says the problem with golf is the equipment. The ball goes too far. If I’m going to side with someone, I’ll choose him.

No other sport allows the equipment to be altered to affect performance in the way that golf does. And by allowing this, the R&A and USGA create all sorts of problems with classic courses. Fix the ball and you’ll solve a lot of problems.

Regarding St. Andrews, it is ridiculous that we even have to have this discussion. It is a shrine and should stay that way. Period.

104 Hulie May 17, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Other than moving the tee boxes back, this course should be left alone. It’s basically the birthplace of golf: a monument. Do we make changes to monuments? No. Upkeep is understandable. Making a course more difficult: (moving back tee boxes) adding bunkers and difficult pin placement would be great to maintain the integrity. Also, I agree with previous posters, all pro’s should be required to play blades. The R&A and USGA should ban hybrids and laser milled clubs, … making only blades conforming. The wedge, 1932′ish, is understandable. Newer clubs and massive head drivers with super flexible shafts are what has made it difficult for many golf course clubs to stay in business, because they spent millions on adjusting their courses, versus players using blades, versus cavity backs.

105 Hulie May 17, 2013 at 2:24 pm

and let’s not forget the ball, from balata’s (now outdated) to high spin balls. Let every pro use a low spin, hard ball, and we’ll see how close the pro’s get to the pin.

106 ted June 18, 2013 at 1:48 pm

got to tee it up a few weeks ago at high noon with two great friends. While the day was memorable (buddy was 1-over after 13, missed birdies on 14 and 15 by a hair each, then proceeded to go OB on 16, bogey 17 and double 18 for a 79 – ugh) the course was the most blasé of the ones we played that week. Checkmark on the bucket list, but if I go back I think I will spend my time at Kingsbarns (which was ridiculously sweet), Carnoustie (want another crack at that one – tough as nails) and westward at Turnberry and Prestwick (my favorite of the bunch). Will also head north to the Highlands (Aberdeen, Cruden Bay, dare I say it…Trump).

107 marg January 8, 2014 at 7:21 pm

it’s okay to make enhancing changes. Making the experiences better. The changes that i saw 2 years ago on the other St Andrew’s courses were really terrible. Jubilee’s land moving changes made no sense to me. Almost every reconstruction effort that i saw made it more difficult to see the ocean. ergo less beautiful. you felt like you were playing in a ‘half pipe’ most of the time (ski jargon) left and right rough were elevated so
you couldnt see the water. I think most tourists of Scotland (and Ireland) love to be playing in view of the seas. (isnt that why Kingsbarn is so popular, you see the water on almost every hole). if you can see the water, you can definitely be in the brunt of the wind….isnt that Scottish golf !! if your down in a gulley…that’s no fun, no challenge. fast greens usually make up for yardage-challenged courses. i’ve wanted to write this sentiment for almost 2 years, thanks for the forum to rant.

108 George February 5, 2014 at 10:43 pm

I agree with Tom Doak – Maintain it but don’t change it!

109 Old Tom Morris May 27, 2014 at 4:31 pm

There is only one “first” golf course and there are plenty of other courses in St. Andrews to “improve”. Leave the old course alone!

110 Tom October 28, 2014 at 2:57 pm

I had the privilege of playing the Old Course in July–and did so because of its unique place in history. The caution is that “updating” what’s revered as “ancient” can be counterproductive–who would want to give up what has endured for centuries so it is a better test for the pros? Not me. Be careful, please. Such a shame if it becomes simply another wonderful golf course

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