Dressing the 'Auld' Lady

The Old Course at St Andrews has undergone a facelift for this years Millennium Open Championship

Martin Park
Wed, 26 Apr 2000

Under normal circumstances, the St Andrews Links Trust, along with the local residents at St Andrews are resistant to change, no matter how little it is, to their beloved Old Course, site of the Open Championship this year. But that is no normal event and the townsfolk in the little cut off corner of the Kingdom of Fife will be lining their pockets during the week long feast of golf.

Change is never for change's sake at St Andrews, but this year, we have seen some dramatic alterations to the course already.

First of all we had a new extension to the Old Course Hotel, which flanks perhaps the most infamous par four in golf, the 17th, or 'Road Hole' and the locals are outraged that the Links trust and the R&A have allowed such an extension to be built in the first place. But it is there and whether it will affect the play on the 17th hole will be seen in July.

And just so that the course will look its best for the Millennium Open this summer, the Links Trust and the Open Championship committee have spruced up the 'auld' lady by re-facing every bunker on the course with layer upon layer of turf.

There are 112 bunkers strewn across the most famous links on the planet and with new faces on them, it will make holes such as the 11th, a medium length par three with a fearsome bunker called "Strath" in front of it, a hazard to avoid at all costs.

"Hell" bunker on the 14th takes on its meaning very well now because of more extensive work involving railway sleepers sunk into concrete. If you are in "Hell" come July, you may well need the assistance of prayer to get out.

Hell is one of three bunkers to have received a complete renovation along with "Shell" and "Cottage".

And the most feared of them all, "Road", will be everyone's nightmare, especially on Sunday afternoon when the Championship will be on the line, which it will be, as nobody else but Nick Faldo in 1990 has run away with an Open at St Andrews. Mostly, they have been close affairs going down to the wire and in some cases, a playoff.

After last year's fiasco with the rough and howling winds at Carnoustie, the R&A will never make the same mistake twice. And the one thing is always guaranteed at the "home of Golf", is that the players play on the most traditional of all of the links in the world. This year, the R&A have just made sure it looks good too!