Date: February 25, 2013

Grant Report – Ogilvy Unleashes on Old Course Changes

Victorian Geoff Ogilvy has unleashed an extraordinary attack on the Royal and Ancient Golf Club over what he terms “disgusting” changes to the Old Course at St Andrews.

The R&A decided to modify nine holes on the course ahead of the 2015 British Open – a move Ogilvy has dramatically compared to re-modelling the Sistine Chapel.

The 17th Road Hole bunker will be widened which is one of the alterations which has sparked Ogilvy’s outburst.

The 2006 US Open champion says St Andrews is the one layout in the world which is beyond change and has accused the game’s governing body of “embarrassing” the game of golf.

“The whole point is to make us shoot a slightly higher score every five years at The Open and it’s embarrassing – disgusting," Ogilvy said.

“The arrogance of doing something like that is incredible. It’s like saying ‘The Mona Lisa is fading so let’s put some colour into her face’. Or ‘The Sistine Chapel is a bit small for the number of people who want to go through it, let’s make it bigger’.

“The reason the sport is what it is today is because of St Andrews. It didn’t evolve to the point where it’s at because of people doing what they’re doing now. It evolved – it didn’t get designed.

“It came because of nature. All the balls were finishing in one place so there were lots of divots and that became a bunker.

“I’ve played St Andrews 25 times and the Road Hole bunker has been different every time so it’s not like changes aren’t being made there all the time. But they’re doing a lot of fundamental changes.

“St Andrews is the first place anyone should study when they think about course architecture. And the last place anyone should touch.”

Ogilvy has accused the R&A of revealing the changes through stealth – trying to attract as little attention as possible as the main focus of the golfing world remains on the debate over the ban on belly putters.

“The thing that affected most people was the way they did it. They made a sneaky little announcement the same weekend everyone was talking about the long putter ban," Ogilvy said.

“They knew there would be a backlash so they made sure they had the bulldozers out there before anyone could stop it.

“Surely the Old Course deserves a round table of the smartest people in golf discussing it for two years before doing anything?”

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson defended the changes.“The proposals should place more of a premium on accuracy and ball control while retaining the spirit and the character of the Old Course,” Dawson said.