Date: October 22, 2015
Author: Martin Blake

Five weeks to go, The Australian takes shape

Five weeks to go, The Australian takes shape

Posted by Australian Open Golf on Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The countdown to the Emirates Australian Open has reached exactly five weeks … and The Australian Golf Club is taking shape for the country’s most prestigious tournament.

Workers this week began construction on the marquee beside the 18th green where the tournament will be decided next month. That building will house the Stonehaven Club corporate area throughout the Open.

Roses have begun blooming and some rain has freshened up the course.

There will also be tweaks to the course from what was presented when Jordan Spieth won with his incredible final-round 63 last year.

“The course is in good shape, it’s growing well,’’ said The Australian’s senior greenkeeper/spray technician Dean Hardman. “All the renovations are complete, so it’s just a matter of growing in. Everything’s positive.’’

The most significant of the changes to the course set up are at the par-three fourth hole, the par-five 14th and the par-four 16th, where new tee blocks are in place.

At the fourth, a pretty short par-three guarded by a pond to catch short, right shots, a new tee has been created away to the left of the original. It is designed to match up with a back-right pin position.

The 14th was reachable in two with mid-irons for a lot of players last year, but will be a fraction tougher this time around. The tee block is back 14 metres, making it a 473-metre par-five.

The 16th has been lengthened by 34 metres, up to 430 metres, bringing the fairway bunkers down the right more into play and generally making it a stiffer test, especially if the southerly wind is not blowing.

The tee block on that hole was meant to be used last year, but poor turf condition meant that it could not be used; the members are familiar with it, since it is the black tee for their championships.

The par-four 10th hole will play a little shorter for safety reasons. With big crowds around that area last year, the tee has been shifted forward to avoid any dramas. “I think Matt Jones was teeing off last year and a woman walked right across,’’ said Hardman. “He had to stop mid-swing! So this is a safety thing.’’

Spieth’s 13-under total was enough for a six-shot win at The Australian last year, with the course played as a par-71 for the first time.

As a measure of the round he called “the best round I’ve ever played, considering the conditions’’, no other player broke 67 on the final day.

Spieth, now ranked No. 2 in the world, is returning to defend his title along with Australia’s top players headed by Adam Scott.

The Emirates Australian Open will be played from 26-29 November.