Category: St. Andrews

August 06, 2013

Trump: My Scotland course is better than St. Andrews

Posted at 1:36 PM by Josh Sens

Trump_300As you may have noticed, Donald Trump favors a wild and wind-blown look.

We don’t mean his hairdo.

We’re talking golf design. Like his pompadour, The Donald’s newest course -- Trump International Golf Links, in Aberdeen, Scotland -- cuts a distinctive profile, snaking through a heaving coastal dunescape, its holes cut hard along the North Sea.

The source of controversy before it opened (critics complained that Trump played the bully in getting it approved), the layout has since inspired widespread praise: most notably among Golf Magazine course-raters, who ranked it No. 50 on Golf Magazine’s list of Top 100 Courses in the World -- making it the highest-rated new course on the 2013 list.

Lofty praise, indeed.

Or so we thought.

Saying he was “honored but not thrilled,” Trump took time this week to discuss the rankings while offering his take on golf course architecture, describing what makes his links in Aberdeen so different and why he believes it’s destined to achieve its rightful place -- above the likes of Muirfield, Pine Valley and the Old Course -- at the very summit of the Top 100 list.

GOLF: Congratulations on your Top 100 ranking.

Donald Trump: Thank you. I’m honored but not thrilled.

GOLF: No? How come?

DT: A lot of the greatness in any course is the land, and this land is unique. I looked at more than 100 sites around the world, but I really wanted to do something great in Europe. Preferably Scotland. And there was nothing like this land. It sits right on the North Sea, with waves crashing right beside you, and it has these incredible giant dunes. If you take the biggest dune at Bandon Dunes, it’s like a toy compared to what we’ve got. They’re just amazing. They’re like mountains. You can’t build dunes like this. They’re a million years old. Older than the Old Course.

GOLF: Which you’ve played?

DT: I have. I love it. It’s a wonderful course with incredibly rich history.

GOLF: But not better than yours?

DT: St. Andrews is spectacular, and it has that legacy, and legacy has real value. But in terms of the physical course, there’s no comparison. I don’t think there’s any course that compares.

GOLF: Muirfield?

DT: I love Muirfield, too. But it’s not really on the ocean. And it doesn’t have the dunes system. You won’t find any course in the world like mine.

GOLF: But you’re Donald Trump. Of course you’re going to say that.

DT: Others have said the same. Sandy Jones, the head of the PGA in Europe. He said, “Your course is in the top three and I can’t think of the other two.”

GOLF: What are your top three?

DT: I’ve played many of the Top 100, and I love them. I have great respect for them. I was just invited to play in a tournament celebrating the 100th anniversary of Pine Valley. I played with the chairman of the club. It’s a spectacular course, and the reason it was built where it was is the land. The land is spectacular. I have a course, Pine Hills, that sits right next door on land that is just as great. And the course itself is, in my opinion, as good or better than Pine Valley.

GOLF: You don’t entirely agree with the Top 100.

DT: I have great respect for many of the courses on the list. I could also say there are some serious mistakes on it.

GOLF: Such as?

DT: Why would I want to be controversial?

GOLF: Your course in Scotland caused a fair bit of controversy.

DT: It did. And that was great because a lot was written about it. When I told people I was going to build there, everybody laughed. Those dunes were earmarked. People said, You can’t even walk on them, let alone do what you want to do.

GOLF: So, you’ve got the dunes. What else makes the course so great in your eyes?

DT: I got Dr. Martin Hawtree to design it. I went to Peter Dawson of the R&A and I asked him who his top architect choices were. He said his first was Martin Hawtree, and that after that he’d go with Martin Hawtree, and Martin Hawtree. He’s just been incredible. When you see the work he did there, you can’t believe it. It’s set in these giant dunes, but the course is very easy to walk, which is difficult to do in land like this. There are beautiful footpaths that wind through the dunes and they’re surrounded by these incredible high grasses, but you don’t have to go up and down a lot of hills. The purpose of the dunes is to protect you from the weather, so when you’re playing the course, it can feel still even though there are 50 mph winds swirling just above you.

GOLF: What’s your best score on it?

DT: I’ve played it probably six times, and each time, I’ve gotten better. I’m learning its nuances. It’s a very challenging course, but it’s fair.

GOLF: A lot of people have said it feels much older than it is.

DT: Legacy has value. You can’t buy time. You can’t open course and immediately have 200 years of history behind you. But my course has all the ingredients to be the best in the world.

GOLF: So 50 is way too low?

DT: As I said, I’m honored. But if you were to call me five years from now and say it’s number 50, I’d be very disappointed.

The Golf Magazine Top 100 Courses in the World:





Photo: Donald Trump at Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen, Scotland.

December 10, 2012

VIDEO: 'The Golf Nerds' on renovations to the Old Course at St. Andrews

Posted at 11:46 PM by Alan Bastable

Welcome to "The Golf Nerds," a video series created by Golf Magazine senior editor Alan Bastable at In this week's episode, Lester and Richard debate changes to the most sacred sod in golf, the Old Course at St. Andrews.

November 27, 2012

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

Posted at 1:04 PM by Samantha Glover

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.

November 26, 2012

Changes planned for Old Course at St. Andrews ahead of '15 Open

Posted at 10:29 AM by

P1-Old-CourseIn news that is sure to strike fear into the hearts of golfers everywhere, the R&A is planning changes to the most sacred ground in golf, the Old Course at St. Andrews. The alterations will be made with an eye toward keeping the course challenging in the face of modern equipment and Tour talent. Here's the complete press release outlining the changes:

A number of improvements are being planned to the Old Course to help maintain its challenge for the world’s top golfers ahead of the return of The Open Championship to St Andrews in 2015.

Renowned golf course architect Martin Hawtree was commissioned by St Andrews Links Trust, which manages the Old Course and the other six courses at the Home of Golf, and The R&A Championship Committee, which organises golf’s oldest major championship, to assess potential changes which would enhance the challenge for elite players without unduly affecting club and visiting golfers while remaining true to the special character of the Old Course.

Martin Hawtree’s recommendations have now been agreed by the St Andrews Links Trustees and Links Management Committee and The R&A Championship Committee.

The work is planned to take place in two phases over this winter and next. The first phase involves work on the 2nd, 7th, 11th and 17th holes. The second phase will take place in winter 2013/14 with work on the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 9th and 15th holes.

The work will widen the Road Bunker on the 17th hole by half a metre at the right hand side and recontour a small portion of the front of the green to enable it to gather more approach shots landing in that area.

A new bunker will be created on the right of the 3rd fairway and another on the left of the 9th fairway 20 yards short of the green. Bunkers will be repositioned closer to the right edge of the 2nd green and the right of the 4th green. A portion of the back left of the 11th green will be lowered to create more hole location options.

Euan Loudon, Chief Executive of St Andrews Links Trust, said, “The Old Course is renowned as one of the great Open venues and its continued prominence on the Open roster is crucially important to the economy and reputation of St Andrews. The Old Course has evolved over time and the Links Trust is delighted to be working with the Championship Committee in order to maintain the challenge of the course for elite tournament players and the thousands of golfers who play here each year.”

Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “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. 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.”

RELATED: Top 20 Courses in the U.S. and the World

(Photo: Fred Vuich/SI)

July 30, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Watch John Daly tee off on David Feherty

Posted at 12:18 PM by Mark Dee

There are a few things I wouldn't let John Daly do to me. A lot of things, actually. But none of them are higher on that list than letting him slash a drive teed up in my mouth.

I'm not David Feherty. The Golf Channel host let Long John do just that on the season finale of his TV show, Feherty, which aired over the weekend. Watch the clip below:

Now, as the video mentions, John is a pro. But some might say pegging a ball on a head the size of Feherty's is a high tee indeed. We think Ernie Els may have taken a little divot.

T-Minus Four Years 'til Rio
Pro golf has a pretty strong couple of weeks coming up, with a World Golf Championship event (Bridgestone Invitational) and one of the world's biggest tournaments (PGA Championship) occuring in the next fortnight. But the Sport of Kings is going to be fighting for attention with some big to-do going on in the Queen's backyard. It's tough for anyone to compete with gymnastics’ quadrennial moment in the sun.

But golf will get its due in four year's time, and golf writers are already curious about who might be playing for medals in Rio. So if you can't beat 'em, join the hype.

Ryan Ballengee gets the ball rolling, running the numbers for Golf News Net to give us a (very) early look at the possible fields for men and women.  Apparently, if the men's field were set today, it would include eight Americans and reach down to the 334th ranked player in the world to fill out the 60-man lineup.

The women's field would dig even deeper, pulling 446th ranked Paola Moreno of Colombia into the fold.

The reason, Ballengee explains, is the selection criteria. The top 15 men and women will automatically qualify; after that, 45 players are added by rank. The catch is -- after the top 15 -- no more than two representatives from any single country can play. So Moreno and Norwegian Espen Kofstad would get the call.

But before they book flights remember this -- along with really any other aspect of the golf event -- is subject to change. In the meantime, we recommend any Norwegian with Olympic dreams to hit the range. Your tee time may only be four years away.

Tweet of the Day 


April 28, 2011

Truth and Rumors: Tiger's former doctor may be negotiating plea deal

Posted at 12:09 PM by Ryan Reiterman

Tiger Woods is recovering from another knee injury, but we can rule out any future visits from Anthony Galea, one of his former doctors. According to the New York Times, Galea may be negotiating a plea deal with the feds.

Galea is accused of treating more than 20 professional athletes in the United States between July 2007 and September 2009 and providing many of them with human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing drugs. He did not have a license to practice medicine in the United States at the time. Galea faces charges that include conspiracy, fraud and lying to border agents.

Galea, despite being unlicensed, treated both Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees and Tiger Woods during their recovery from injuries, although Galea has insisted he never administered performance-enhancing drugs to his athlete clients.

The federal docket in Galea’s case shows no activity since his indictment on Oct. 14, an indication either that his lawyer is trying to persuade federal prosecutors to drop the charges or — more likely — that he is in plea negotiations, said Daniel C. Richman, a former federal prosecutor who teaches criminal law at Columbia University.

And this is something to keep an eye on ...

Galea has said that although he used H.G.H. himself, his treatment of Woods and Rodriguez was limited to blood-spinning therapy and an anti-inflammatory medicine.

Any cooperation agreement could involve Galea’s changing his account of what he did with the athletes he treated.

Times are a Changin'
After 168 years, the St. Andrews Golf Club may finally allow women members, according to the Guardian.

In a letter to members, club officials wrote that a ban on women could be a "retrograde step" and set out options.

The letter, excerpts of which were printed in the Courier newspaper, reads: "Firstly, it could operate as at present with members and their male guests being permitted to use the members' lounge.

"This would result in no lady guests being permitted at all in the clubhouse, as all guests must be given the same rights of access under the Act."

The second option would see the members' lounge used for members only.

Officials reportedly recommend that members back a third option, which allows members and guests into all public areas of the clubhouse whatever their gender.

Tweet of the Day

Hank @HankDHaney: Might not be good long term RT @Jason_Long: What's your take on Tiger's rash of injuries? The knee and achilles, to me, is a troubling sign?

July 20, 2010

Truth & Rumors: British Open gets lowest final-round TV ratings ever

Posted at 2:49 PM by Mike Walker

What’s the opposite of must-see TV? Watching an unheralded South Africa golfer lap the field on Sunday at the British Open.

Louis Oosthuizen won praise for his play and his amiable manner at the 2010 British Open, but he didn’t attract many television viewers. In fact, Oosthuizen’s seven-stroke win on Sunday at St. Andrews was the lowest-rated final round in tournament history, according to Bloomberg News.

ESPN averaged a 1.4 rating, or about 1.86 million U.S. households, through the first three rounds and was set to be the highest rating since 2006. Then South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen pulled ahead, winning by seven strokes over world No. 3-ranked Lee Westwood.

“Oosthuizen dominated and the lack of drama had a significant impact on the ratings,” spokesman Mark Mandel said in an interview. The final round rating of 2.1 represents about 2.97 million U.S. households, Mandel said. Last year’s final round received a 3.8 rating, or about 5.55 million U.S. households, for Tom Watson’s playoff loss to Stewart Cink.

Poll: Tiger Woods still America’s most popular athlete (along with Kobe)

If Tiger Woods had a secret plan to lessen the endless autograph requests he receives by involving himself in highly publicized sordid affairs, it didn’t work. A Harris Poll released Tuesday shows that Woods is tied with Kobe Bryant as America’s favorite sports star, according to The Detroit News.

Despite his personal troubles, Tiger Woods is tied with Kobe Bryant as America's favorite sports star, according to a just released Harris Poll. Woods had enjoyed the No. 1 ranking by himself since 2006. Bryant, who led the Lakers to a second consecutive NBA title, was ranked fourth in the poll last year.

Derek Jeter of the Yankees was ranked third, followed by Vikings quarterback Brett Favre and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

But Woods’s indestructible popularity hasn’t helped the latest version of his EA Sports Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf game. Sales are down 32 percent from last year, according to The New York Times.

NPD Group, which tracks video game sales, said that first-month sales of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 were down 32 percent from the previous version of the game a year ago.

Jeff Brown, a spokesman for Electronic Arts, blamed the slower sales on “a lot of factors,” including the slowdown in sales of the Wii and the fact that last year’s version of the game was bundled with the Wii, leading to strong sales.

No more changes to St. Andrews, R&A boss says

Prior to last week’s Open Championship, the R&A lengthened the famous Road Hole, a controversial move, but one that R&A chief executive Peter Dawson deemed a success, according to The Courier, a Scottish newspaper.

“The new tee was a great success in terms of stiffening the test. We were hoping the road might come back more into play and it did, so we are very pleased."

However, Dawson said he doesn’t expect any major changes to the course when the Open returns to St. Andrews, even though Tiger Woods and other long hitters were treating the iconic 18th hole like a pitch-and-putt, effortlessly driving the green on the 357-yard par 4.

"We could go back more yards, but I think it's fine now," said Dawson. "I'll be proved wrong when the Open does return to St Andrews, no doubt, but we have no plans at all the lengthen the course further."

The home hole played more than half a shot under par on average on Sunday but changes there would be almost sacrilegious, he agreed.

Dawson continued, "You'd have your legs cut off for even contemplating that. This week it played downwind and it did serve to split players, but it's a very famous hole and we're still more than happy with it."

The Open is held at St. Andrews every five years, but some speculate that the R&A might wait until 2016 so that St. Andrews is on schedule to hold the 150th championship in 2021.

Stray Shots

Some things we saw while wondering if Tiger Woods will drop himself as a sponsor after his performance on the greens at St. Andrews...

They tried to get Rachel Uchitel to go to rehab, and she said, “Well, OK, as long as I get to be on TV.” (Via E Online)

Charles Barkley is now trying golf left-handed. No joke here. Barkley’s struggle with the game is something to which we all can relate. (Via Ryan Ballangee’s Waggle Room blog)

Louis Oosthuizen’s caddie figured out a great way not to get fired: help your boss win the British Open. (Via Golfweek)

A fan at the British Open didn’t believe the prickly gorse bushes surrounding the course were all that sharp, so he grabbed some branches in a clenched fist -- then let out a scream. You'll never believe it, but he was from Australia. (Via Wales Online)

July 19, 2010

Truth and Rumors: Westwood not bothered by latest runner-up finish

Posted at 1:46 PM by Michael Chwasky

Years ago a friend and I came upon an unofficial Lee Westwood website (don't ask), and were pleasantly surprised to find the designer had picked Gerry Rafferty's fromage-filled classic, Baker Street, as the background music. True, it was Rafferty's first big release, sans Stealers Wheel, but something about it seemed to fit the burly Englishman, like the idea of settling down in a quiet little town and forgetting about everything might agree with him. Particularly when Westwood, who was a rising/legit star on the European Tour had all but fallen off the map in the early 2000s. 

After a couple of years spent reconstructing his swing and getting physically fit, Westwood became one of the very best players in the world. In fact, he's finished in the top-5 of a major seven times now, including top-3 finishes in four of the last five. At this point, one might think Westwood might be more into CSN's Judy Blue Eyes than Baker Street (you know it -- "it's getting to the point where I'm no fun anymore"), but according to The New York Times the latest in what's quickly becoming a Monty-esque string of major disappointments has done little to deter the world's third-ranked player. 

“Whether I won the tournament today was in the hands of other people,” Westwood said. “Louis has obviously played great and thoroughly deserves to win, so there’s not even any real disappointment. If you get close and you lose, then there’s disappointment. I don’t know if it’s around the corner, but hopefully it’s about three weeks away. But I don’t know, you know. Like I said, I can’t do much more than I’m already doing. I’m trying to improve all the time, and I’m sticking myself in contention.”

The bottom line: Westwood's an outstanding player who could easily win a couple of majors, but he simply might not have the mental toughness to get the job done. 

McDowell to play PGA Tour for rest of '10 season

The PGA Tour reports that reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell will compete on the PGA Tour for the rest of the current season. Evidently McDowell, who earned a five-year exemption after winning at Pebble Beach, notified PGA Tour officials of his decision just this week. The Northern Irishman also said he wants to try to qualify for the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup. In his quest to accomplish this task McDowell will play in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational as well as the PGA Championship. 

McDowell denied rumors that he was ditching the European Tour for good, saying that he liked the idea of playing flexible, worldwide schedule. 

"I've played quite a lot out here this season," McDowell said. "I think the great thing about golfers in Europe is we play all over the world, and I think we're better players and better people because of that."

The bottom line: Great news for both tours but he's a bigger draw in Europe. 

Tiger's reign over for good? 

We've all been thinking it, but someone actually said it out loud, or at least wrote it. In a story today on, sports anchor Rafer Weigel posted the headline, "Tiger Woods days of dominance, done," and it's unlikely too many objective-minded golf fans out there would strongly disagree. Anyone who watched coverage from St. Andrews this weekend saw the world's No. 1 player look extremely human on a golf course he completely dominated during his prime. Factor in the earlier failures at Augusta and Pebble Beach, and it was the third time this season Tiger struggled at courses where he once crushed the field. 

So is it really the end of the El Tigre era? Will he ever intimidate and dominate fellow competitors as he once did. Will TV ratings really return to what they were in the Tom Kite era? Please give us your opinions as comments. We'd like to know what you think. 

The bottom line: Tiger will win more majors and probably top The Golden Bear's record, but his days of true domination are basically over. 

July 17, 2010

Forecast remains blustery in St. Andrews

Posted at 6:17 AM by David Dusek

4ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Golfers looking for a reprieve from the windy conditions that halted play for over an hour on Friday and made scores soar should not look at the green sheet of paper being handed out in the media center.

If they do, they will see that on the very top, in bold capital letters, is the word HAZARDS, followed by this sentence:

Strong winds today, but about 5mph lighter than Friday.

In other words, scoring conditions could be nearly as brutal as they became yesterday afternoon, when Rory McIlroy, who shot 63 on Thursday, carded an 80.

A 15-20mph wind is forecasted to come from the west and southwest—the prevailing direction—with occasional gusts up to 30. However, the wind is expected to start coming from the south late in the afternoon and in the evening, so the leaders (who tee off last), can expect to play into the wind on the challenging 17th hole.

Here’s Sunday's forecast from Met Office, the national weather service of the UK:

Cloudy at first with a little patchy light rain. Soon becoming dry with bright or sunny intervals. Wind south to southwesterly 10 to 15mph, increasing to 15 to 20mph with gusts to 25, occasionally to 30mph. Cloud increasing again into the evening with rain likely before midnight.

July 15, 2010

Low scores, mild weather forecast for St. Andrews

Posted at 5:12 AM by Mike Walker

St. Andrews, SCOTLAND — When he decides to hang up his spikes, U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell has a future as a wisecracking TV weatherman.

"We always joke that they should try to play the British Open in the summer this year," McDowell said.

But on an overcast Thursday morning with light rain, St. Andrews was a balmy-feeling 60 degrees and the players who went out early took advantage of the calm conditions and rain-soaked greens to post a lot of red scores, especially John Daly, who started with five birdies on the front nine.

The forecast for the rest of the day is relatively mild, and the extended forecast doesn't look as rough as predicted. The rain, which came down with Biblical fury Wednesday night and left puddles of standing water throughout the course, should clear this afternoon and it's possible players will see some spells of sun today.

Friday's weather sounds even more benign, starting with rain then turning drier and brighter, although the wind will stronger (15 to 20 mph with gusts up to 25 mph, compared to 5 to 10 mph today).

Here's the extended forecast from Met Office, the national weather service for the UK:

Saturday: Cloudy. A good deal of dry weather but some occasional light showers from time to time. Wind SW 15 to 25 mph.

Sunday: Cloudy. Dry at first and again later. Outbreaks of mainly light rain expected during the afternoon. Winds south to southwest 15 to 25 mph, occasional gusts to 30 mph at first, moderating during the day.

Temperatures should stay around 60 degrees throughout the tournament.

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