Plans underway to toughen up par-4 17th on Old Course ahead of 2015 Open Championship

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The infamous Road Hole Bunker at St Andrews is set to undergo a makeover that will provide an even stiffer challenge for the world's best when they align at the 2015 Open Championship.

Regarded as one of the toughest par-4s in world golf, largely because of the deep and dominant bunker that protects the green at the end of a narrowing, undulating fairway, the 17th on the Old Course is to be widened by half a metre to the right.

Two years ago, R&A chief executive Peter Dawson rather wickedly said the hole had lost its ball-gathering capability. So it's little surprise to learn the green will also be recontoured to allow for more balls falling into the sand.

“We have considered the challenge presented to the world's top golfers by each of the Open Championship venues and carried out a programme of improvements over the last ten years,” said Dawson.

“While some holes have been lengthened on the Old Course in recent years it has otherwise remained largely unaltered. The Championship Committee felt there was an opportunity to stiffen its defences in some places to ensure it remains as challenging as ever to the professionals.”

The work is part of an alteration programme being undertaken by architect Martin Hawtree after he was commissioned by St Andrews Links Trust and the Royal & Ancient Club.

“The proposals should place more of a premium on accuracy and ball control while retaining the spirit and character of the Old Course,” added Dawson.

Re-development will take place in two phases with the first including work at the second, seventh, 11th and the Road Hole 17th. The second phase will commence in winter 2013/14 with work on the third, fourth, sixth, ninth and 15th.

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