After 110 years, the Road Hole on the Old Course in St. Andrews will finally be Tiger-proofed
For the first time since 1900, the Road Hole on the Old Course in St. Andrews will be lengthened.
In preparation for the 2010 Open Championship, a new tee will be built about 35 yards behind the current tee box on the famous 17th, which requires a drive over the storage shed of the Old Course Hotel. Now pros will have to pick out a new target line on the shed from the new tee and will face a more dangerous approach shot into the green.
Said R & A Chief Executive Peter Dawson of the switch:
“Over the years, we have seen the threat from the road behind the green, and to a lesser extent the Road Bunker, diminished as players have been hitting shorter irons for their approach shots allowing them to avoid these hazards more easily. This change will ensure that the hole plays as it was originally intended.”
This makes sense from an Open Championship perspective, in an attempt to bring the teeth back to the Old Course, which can be pretty defenseless to the modern player on a mild day, thanks to its double-fairways and double-greens, many of which can be flat around the hole.
It is a shame for the visiting player though, because for many years, this was one of the few tee boxes on the course were playing practically same as the pros, just steps off the 16th green. The new tee box, constructed on the practice range of the Links Trust, won’t feel as natural as the current tee box, which daily yellow tee play will likely continue to play from. The “Tiger tees” aren’t available for daily play on the Old Course, just the yellow set that’s about 6,400 yards, in order to keep pace of play moving, which it does successfully.
Because the 18th is more of a birdie hole than a bogey threat, the 17th is usually the last chance to see any carnage, and adding 35 yards will certainly do the trick, especially if the wind is up. The question is, will this change the seemingly inevitable outcome of a Tiger Woods route like the last two Opens at the Old.
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With the modern golf equipment, the pros are hitting 3 woods 300 yards. In 1964 there was probably just a handful of pros that could hit their driver 300 yards. It will not be long before we have the first 8000 yard course.