The world’s most famous par-4 just got longer

When you’re on to a good thing, stick to it.
Don’t change a winning team.
Don’t spoil the ship for a ha’pworth of tar.
Don’t change the Road Hole at St.Andrews, ’tis great as it is.
The last phrase I made up but one wonders whether the R&A had ever heard of the other ones.

You see they’ve gone and changed the 17th hole at St.Andrews Old Course. Lovingly known as the Road Hole, the R&A officially unveiled their changes yesterday.

This hole has seen some of the most memorable moments in Open Championship history and is instantly recognisable in real life, on TV or playing Tiger Woods ’07. The green, road and stone wall have been preserved but the hole has been lengthened by 25 yards taking it out to 490 yards.

There has been some serious controversy surrounding the change with very few people supporting the move. The R&A got off to a bad start but justifying the change based on the increase in driving distances and a quote by Sir Henry Cotton who mentioned the hole should be lengthened in 1964.

Many writers including Geoff Shackleford have pointed out both aren’t completely true. Driving distances have actually flattened out over the past 5 years and Cotton was referring to the hole when it used to be a par-5!

The latest reports suggests the R&A are considering making the hole a call-up hole for approach shots to the green. I’ll refrain from expressing my views on that once again.
Lawrence Donegan suggests in his piece in The Guardian that the R&A are scrambling to make St.Andrews relevant in the era of modern golf. They have made serious blunders over the past decade by not restricting changes to the golf ball and are committing acts of “officially-sanctioned vandalism” on the world’s most famous golf course.

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