R & A spend £10M toughening Open Championship courses
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R & A) disclosed it has invested some £10m in toughening and tightening all courses used to host The Open Championship.
Peter Dawson, CEO with golf’s St. Andrews based organising and rules body, made the revelation during a dinner at Royal Lytham and St. Annes and host venue for this year’s Open Championship.
Dawson indicated a fund was set up within the R & A and close to £1/2m spent on each of the nine courses on The Open rota including the five in Scotland.
“When I started at the R & A I went to the Championship Committee and said we needed a fund to bring the courses into the modern era, if you like," said Dawson.
“So we found the money and with nine courses we’ve probably spent the average of £1/2m on each course.
“Some of the courses have had a lot more done to them than others but I would say it’s money well spent.
“However each of the nine clubs has had a key role in what we were recommending for each course and that was not a problem.”
And while Dawson had detailed changes to this year's host venue at Royal Lytham and St. Annes he revealed also changes have already been carried out on next year’s Open venue at Muirfield.
“Everything has been done at Muirfield and it has been done for a few years now," he said.
“There are quite a few changes but they are very subtle. One of the biggest changes is a new back tee at the ninth where some 60 to 70 yards has been added to the hole.
“The 10 th fairway has also been moved about a third of its width to give us more room at the practice ground but you would never notice it.
“Almost all the changes at Muirfield, apart from the ninth tee, you would not notice them.”
As well, Dawson indicated that like this year’s venue at Royal Lytham and St. Annes that Muirfield will play some 200 yards longer than when The Open was last played there in 2002.
Dawson also disclosed while impressed with the new Donald Trump course at Aberdeen it seemed unlikely in the near future of the Martin Hawtree designed course playing host to an Open.
“It is a spectacular golf course and it was me who recommended Martin Hawtree to Donald," said Dawson.
“When Donald first came to my office he had an American designer with him and I asked the fellow ‘how many links courses have you designed?’
“So I gave Donald Martin’s phone number.
“As for an Open Championship being played there we will have to wait and see. There is every indication the golf course is very strong.
“But let’s see how it matures and I would say it has a long way to go yet.
“And also you have to take into consideration the infrastructure and commercial requirements because we are not going to take The Open somewhere where it’s going to cost a fortune and not have any crowds.
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