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November 27, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Architect Tom Doak 'horrified' by St. Andrews changes

RoadholeThe The Road Hole at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. (Getty Images)

Famed golf architect Tom Doak said he is "horrified" by the R&A's proposed changes to St. Andrews' Old Course in preparation for the 2015 Open Championship. Doak, who counts Pacific Dunes in Oregon and Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand among his designs, said the Old Course was "sacred ground" and should remain "untouched architecturally," according to The Scotman's Martin Dempster.

American Tom Doak, who said he was “horrified” to hear about the work planned for the historic venue over the next two winters, has written to four 
golf course and greenkeeping bodies around the world asking for them to support his bid 
to overturn the changes.

He described the Old Course as “an international treasure that should be guarded” and is disappointed that the R&A, having already played its part in stretching the course as much as possible in terms of adding new tees, has now turned its attention to bunkering and contours.

“I was horrified to read of the changes proposed to the Old Course at St Andrews,” said Doak in a letter he has sent to the presidents of the Australian, American and European societies of golf course architects as well as the Scottish regional administrator of the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association.

“No longer content just to add back tees for championship play, the club (R&A) and its consulting architect, Martin Hawtree, have planned to move bunkers, add contouring around the greens, and soften slopes in other places prior to the next Open Championship. I have felt for many years that the Old Course was sacred ground to golf architects, as it was to Old Tom Morris and C. B. Macdonald and Harry Colt and Alister MacKenzie before us.

“It has been untouched architecturally since 1920, and I believe that it should remain so. I understood this to be the feeling of many other architects who attended the World Forum on Golf Architecture in St Andrews, three years ago. I don’t believe it should be impossible to change the Old Course, or any other historic course. But I think it should be a lot harder than it currently is, where only the management of the club and any consulting architect they hire have to agree.

“I think that the default position should be that such an international treasure should be guarded, and that there should be a high burden of proof that changes need to be made, before they can be made.”

Fans of the game have come together to display their opposition with the proposed changes, adopting the twitter hashtag: #savetheoldcourse, and even creating a petition to stop the changes.

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