A Storm's A-Brewing Over Proposed Changes to The Old Course at St. Andrews
In 1919, Marcel Duchamp created the interesting postcard image of La Gioconda (Mona Lisa) with a moustache (image below from Marcel Duchamp World Community website).
The interesting part references the title he gave it, as well as the nerve he had in defiling a classic work. The Royal & Ancient and the St. Andrews Links Trust appear to not have learned much from Duchamp’s intentional folly, as they have approved work that some consider an adulteration of an untouchable classic: the Old Course at St. Andrews:
On the 4th, the acute spur formation on the left hand side of the fairway will be reduced and the bunker on the right hand side of the green will be moved closer to its edge. The ground to the back right of the green will be recontoured. On the 6th, the ground to the right of the green will be recontoured. On the 9th, a fairway bunker will be added short and left of the green, about 25 yards to the left and diagonally towards the green from the last bunker on the right of the fairway. On the 15th, the ground to the back right of the green will be recontoured to create more undulations.
On the 2nd hole, the two bunkers right and short of the green will be moved closer to the right edge
of the green. The ground to the right of the green will also be recontoured to create more undulations
and the width of 3rd tee will be reduced to accommodate this. Two bunkers on the right side of the fairway,
near the 3rd Championship tee, will be removed.
On the 7th, the large depression in the landing area of the fairway will be filled in and a
slight mound created. The area to the right of the green will be remodelled to create more undulations.
On the 11th, the back left portion of the green will be lowered to create more hole location options.
On the 17th, the Road Bunker will be widened by half a metre at the right hand side and a small portion
of the front of the green will be recontoured to enable it to gather more approach shots landing in that area.
On the 3rd hole, the first fairway bunker on the right will be removed. A new fairway bunker will be
added into the bank on the right hand side about 275 yards from the Championship tee.
On the 4th, the acute spur formation on the left hand side of the fairway will be reduced and the bunker
on the right hand side of the green will be moved closer to its edge. The ground to the back right
of the green will be recontoured.
On the 6th, the ground to the right of the green will be recontoured.
On the 9th, a fairway bunker will be added short and left of the green, about 25 yards to the left
and diagonally towards the green from the last bunker on the right of the fairway.
On the 15th, the ground to the back right of the green will be recontoured to create more undulations.
Not all architects, architecure aficionados and followers of the game agree with the proposed changes. Tom Doak, founder of Renaissance Golf Design and a contributing member of the Golf Club Atlas discussion board, published the following letter this morning (November 25th, 2012) in support of a hands-off approach to Old Course upkeep:
Bob Cupp, President, American Society of Golf Course Architects
Rainer Preissmann, President, European Institute of Golf Course Architects
Graham Papworth, President, Society of Australian Golf Course Architects
John Young, British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association
I was horrified yesterday to read of the changes proposed to The Old
Course at St. Andrews. No longer content just to add back tees for
championship play, the club and its consulting architect, Martin
Hawtree, have planned to move bunkers, add contouring around the
greens, and soften slopes in other places prior to the next Open
I have felt for many years that The Old Course was sacred ground to
golf architects, as it was to Old Tom Morris and C. B. Macdonald and
Harry Colt and Alister MacKenzie before us. It has been untouched
architecturally since 1920, and I believe that it should remain so. I
understood this to be the feeling of many other architects who attended
the World Forum on Golf Architecture in St. Andrews, three years ago.
I don’t believe it should be IMPOSSIBLE to change The Old Course, or
any other historic course. But I think it should be a lot harder than it
currently is, where only the management of the club and any consulting
architect they hire have to agree. I think that the default position
should be that such an international treasure should be guarded, and
that there should be a high burden of proof that changes need to be
made, before they can be made.
I feel strongly enough about this to stick my neck out on it, and make
the case publicly to everyone I know, including and especially contacts
in the media. In fact, one of the reasons I have never applied for
membership in your organizations is the desire to speak my mind about
such things without having to arrive at a consensus first. However,
contrary to popular perception, I have no desire to step over you on
this matter if you are interested in taking the same stand.
I propose to make a petition to the Royal & Ancient Golf Club
expressing that as a golf course architect, I feel that The Old Course
is sacred ground, and that architectural changes should not be made to
it unless necessary for the maintenance and health of the course. I
would like to know from each of you individually, whether you are
interested in participating in this movement, and whether your
organizations might be interested in participating as well.
Renaissance Golf Design Inc.
A storm is a-brewing. Will enough notable figures in the world of golf take a stance in support of, or against, the proposed changes, to force an alteration of the plans?A storm is a-brewing. Will enough notable figures in the world of golf take a stance in support of, or against, the proposed changes, to force an alteration of the plans?
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