This is criminal.
Geoff Ogilvy blasts R&A over St. Andrews tampering
By Torleif Sorenson on 2/20/13
Virtually nobody in the world, except the R&A Championship Committee themselves, likes the idea of tampering with the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. The R&A, the St. Andrews Links management committee and trustees, announced some planned "improvements" last November.

And while golfers, writers, and even architects like Tom Doak are "horrified" over the R&A's decision to tamper with the Home of Golf, 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy may have described best what this means. In an interview with HK Golfer, Ogilvy explained:
"It's like, 'The Mona Lisa is fading a little, so let's put some colour into her face; people will enjoy it more.' Or, 'The Sistine Chapel is a bit small now for the number of people who want to go through it; let's make it bigger.' That's probably a better analogy really because that's what it is.

"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.
Ogilvy also blasted the R&A for the timing of the modifications and the secrecy with which they made the decision:
"They could have done that at any point in the next year, but they chose to announce it at the same time as the long putter thing, when the whole world was focused on that. They snuck it in, out come the bulldozers and it's like, 'What are they doing?'

"Surely they know they're doing something wrong if they have to sneak it in under a bigger announcement? You're not that confident about what you’re doing are you, surely? It was the process rather than the reality. The reality is not very nice, but the process was horrible.
Indeed, the decision and the reasoning reek of old-fashioned political hi-jinks and the proverbial "smoke-filled rooms."

And for the R&A to call the changes "improvements" is as blasphemous as if self-annointed "experts" decided to "improve" Rembrandt's stunning Self Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar — as if to say, "this is what Rembrandt should have done." And for the hundreds of mediocre retread recordings of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, we have Simon Standage's historically informed faithful-to-the-original performed on period instruments and available on CD.

From other courses and outfits, we see courses changed all the time — in some cases, we expect it. Pebble Beach, Augusta National, and virtually every place that the USGA hosts the men's U.S. Open will never again be as they were when they opened. But at the Home of Golf, this is so undeniably wrong.

1000 points to Geoff Ogilvy, a genuine student of the game and golf architecture, for hitting the nail on the head.

Minus 500,000 points to to R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson. Shame on you for allowing the original to be defaced for a tournament spectacle in 2015.

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Image via St. Andrews Links Trust

[ comments ]
bducharm says:
i TOTALLY AGREE with Ogilvy. He hit the nail right on the head. There are certain things in this world that should be left alone - the Old Course is one of them! Who cares if scores get lower! When I laid eyes on that piece of ground it was like I died and had gone to heaven!
Duke of Hazards says:
Geoff should get to some ass kickin' with his size 17's
BAKE_DAWG40 says:
mantajim says:
OMG!! I wish this was an April fools joke.
Should'nt St. Andrew's have been declared a national historic site decades ago!!
joe jones says:
I don't understand why the changes were necessary. The Old Course has stood up to every golfer that has had the chance to play it over the years.Tiger came the closest to bringing it to it's knees and he had to play four fantastic rounds to do it. The secret is staying out of the traps and thats what he did.Seve must be turning in his grave. Ask any past champion what they think of this decision and you will get unanimous no, no, no. The four rounds that I played at St. Andrews stand as the finest experience in my many years of golf.I am disgusted with the decision.
mustang6560 says:
Hey, but at least anchored putting got the boot!
Kurt the Knife says:
"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."
wow. I didnt know thats from where bunkers emerged. Thats cool.
joe jones says:
Actually the Scots believe that the bunkers were created by the sheep huddling in the low spots to shield themselves from the elements. It created natural hazards. All they had to do was remove some of the grass and add some sand. I don't know who should get the credit for shoring up the walls with sod. It creates true hazards that are penal not like the phony traps we have that make the ball roll to the bottom and allows a player easy access to the pin. Pro's aim for the bunkers if they can't hit a green especially on a par five.
Nojdemo2 says:
Sounds like a lot of hot air to me.

Like every golf course, the Old Course has changed over the years and most of those changes have been deliberate. It's called conservation (as opposed to preservation). Both the Mona Lisa and the Sistine Chapel have undergone conservation works over the years, largely to their benefit. Why not the Old Course? As long as the changes are done with care, I can't see the problem.

Also, to claim that the course somehow miraculously evolved is a little disingenuous. For a 'student of the game' I'm surprised he got the bunker 'fact' wrong.

Actually I've read that it's modern course designers who use fairway divot patterns to identify spots for new bunkers - now that's evil!
windowsurfer says:
Yeh, like Nojdemo says, they did change it quite often. According to the lengthy write-up in the 246 Links Courses book, there was a time when the town's garbage was dumped in a low lying area near the clubhouse because they needed fill. This was later covered over with soil and sodded. Now it's a green. Likewise, a dune blocking the incoming tide - sometimes inadequately - was artificially enlarged. The maker's hand was instrumental, but humans (both farmers and golf pros), sheep, rabbits and others tweaked His design.
joe jones says:
Nojdemo2. The comments I mentioned were told to me by four different caddies when I played the old course. It was confirmed Ronnie MacAskill, The Director of Golf at St Andrews at a later date when I was doing research for an article on the course. Ifigured they knew what they were talking about but I could be wrong.
Nojdemo2 says:
@joe jones
I've got into the habit of doing a quick google before I post anything on forums. It's not necessarily a sure-fire way to verify the facts, but helps to quickly identify possible b/s.

I found several references to your account of the bunker creation and none at all to support Geoff's which probably means he just made it up (or dumbly parroted it from somebody else).

In other news, did you know golf tees got their name from their original manufacturer, McMurty's of Dunkeld? True stroy...
Kurt the Knife says:
So i'm actually McMurtying my ball on the McMurty box?
windowsurfer says:
I looked over some more Old Course architectural history last night over a cup of McMurty. It was 22 holes until 1764. Bruce's Embankment was all manmade. The paired greens did not arrive until late in the 1800's. The road hole bunker and the hell bunker (where Jack took a 10 in 1995) have changed dramatically since the early 1900's. Etc.
joe jones says:
One of the things I found fascinating about the Old Course is that the locals consider it a park that is open to everyone. In the evenings you can see family's walking with their dogs, kids kicking a soccer ball and mothers pushing baby carriages. There was a time that the course was closed on Sunday's so everyone could enjoy it. I don't know if that is still in effect. The beach area is great fun, Depending on the time of the year you might see swimmers but the vagaries of Scottish weather dictate whether you have to be nuts to go in the water.The Scots have a reputation of being dour and cheap. I found them to have great humor, a bit conservative but friendly to visitors.
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