Almost as soon as the last putt is sunk in an Open Championship at St Andrews the preparations begin for hosting the next one. Such is the regularity at which the championship returns to the Home of Golf that the greenkeeping teams at St Andrews Links continually work on a programme of maintenance with the Open in mind.
The Old Course has a busy tournament schedule each year with a series of amateur events and the European Tour event, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship taking place every September. In recent years it has also played host to the Ricoh Women's British Open and the Curtis Cup.
While the greenkeeping team led by Director of Greenkeeping Gordon Moir and Course Manager Gordon McKie pride themselves on delivering the course in top class condition for play every day of the season, there is a great deal of work that goes into ensuring the Old Course shines when the focus of the golfing world turns to it during the Open.
The Old Course will close down on June 19, 2010 to allow the final course preparation to be carried out ahead of the championship on July 15.
The only significant change being made to the Old Course ahead of the 150th anniversary Open Championship is the creation of a new championship tee on the famous 17th hole.
The Road Hole, which has remained the same length for more than 100 years, will increase in length by some 35 yards to 490 yards. A new Championship tee will be constructed on ground of the Golf Practice Centre.
The aim is to place a greater premium on an accurate drive of sufficient length over the sheds, encouraging players to take a driver from the tee. The fairway will be widened slightly on the left hand side to ensure that the tee shot remains fair. Crucially, the difficulty of the second shot will be re-established, making it more difficult to hold the approach on the putting surface and increasing the threat posed by both the road behind the green and the Road Bunker.
"The 17th was played at the same yardage in 1900 as it was in 2005 and this fuelled our belief that the formidable challenge of this iconic hole should be returned for The Open Championship," said Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A.
"The Road Hole is the most famous hole in world golf and we believe the changes will increase the challenge of the hole whilst remaining true to its spirit."
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