The game of golf has seen a number of changes recently. Just a couple of weeks ago the R&A, combined with the USGA, announced the drastic new rule that will see the ‘anchoring’ technique of belly putters banned in 2016. It has been over 100 years since golf was last seen as an Olympic sport, but with Rio 2016 on the horizon the sport will once again see professionalscompete for their country. Players are now drug tested and now women can, in theory play in the Open. Golf is seeing lots of changes, so why should there be controversy when changes happen to a golf course?

Even with the surrounding controversy, the changes are well under way at the St Andrews. The Old Course is having changes ahead of the 2015 Open Championship which it hosts every 5 years. Work is taking place this winter and next! Phase one will see work involved on the 2nd, 7th, 11th and 17th holes and the second phase next winter will see work on the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 9th and 15th. So 9 out of the 18 holes will be playing slightly differently by the summer of 2014! Probably the most prominent change will be the widening of the Road Hole Bunker on the 17th by half a metre, there will also be an adjustment made at the front of the green which will enable it to gather more approach shots.

Here we see a good view of the old bunkers being filled in and new larger bunkers have been shifted 20 yards further down on the 2nd hole.

Many professional golfers have voiced their opinion on the news:

Open Champion Peter Thomson stated that “It’s like a bad dream.”

Ryder Cup hero Iain Poulter has his views on the situation “If they make changes to the Old Course at St Andrews they are insane. The course is great; just leave the winning score up to Mother Nature.

Poults went on to sarcastically add: “I know lets draw a Moustache on the Mona Lisa, I’m sure everyone would like that. Let’s put a bridge and a windmill over the Valley of Sin as well, just as another option when playing the last hole with the better discount golf clubs.”

A closer view of the newly constructed bunkers on the second.

Peter Dawson, the R&A Chief Executive said, “We have considered the challenge presented to the world’s top golfers by each of The Open Championship venues and carried out a programmed of improvements over the last ten years. 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 proposals from Martin Hawtree should place more of a premium on accuracy and ball control while retaining the spirit and character of the Old Course.”

He also goes on to insist that the changes are all comparatively small and that the current works will be finished within a couple of weeks. “It’s men with shovels and wheelbarrows rather than bulldozers,” he said.

One of the changes at the 17th will see the famous Road Hole bunker being widened.

Do these changes need to happen in the first place? Tony Jacklin completed the front nine in 29 shots back in 1970, and this is a record that still stands today! Also, the average score at the last Open that took place at St Andrews was more than 73, admittedly however in very challenging weather. The Old Course is certainly no pushover and it does, and will remain, the ultimate golf course.