ASGCA Members Comment on Old Course Alterations

A number of members of the American Society of Golf Course Architects have commented on the modifications being implemented on the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. Their opinions fall in favor and against the changes. I’ve excerpted some of the responses, but I encourage you to read their entire submissions. You can do so if you clicking here.

Greg Martin, ASGCA

The beauty of golf is bigger than ‘protecting par’.   Golf was invented and prospered because of match play. The uniqueness and charm of St. Andrews was fused in match play, not stroke play and the attraction of match play still thrives at St. Andrews.

Stroke play and equipment technology are the real problem.


Ian Andrew ASGCA Associate

While I may not personally like what some architects choose to do with historical courses, I had never seen a proposal so egregious that I thought we as an organization needed to take a stand.  Until now. The latest proposal for renovations to the Old Course in my opinion crosses that line. While I’d prefer they let well alone, it is not the entire proposal that compels me to write this letter. It is the desire to alter the contours of the land. Any change to the undulations or green contours shows a complete disregard for St. Andrew’s hallowed ground.

Rick Phelps, ASGCA

The changes that are being made at the Old Course are certainly going to be well documented. So, if they prove to be detrimental to the charm, character, playability, strategy, and all of the other elements that make a golf course a masterpiece, they can be removed and restored to the previous condition with a high degree of accuracy.

Therefore, at this time, there is little that should be said in terms of the specific work that is under way at the Old Course, other than a continuing plea to the Links Trust to move forward cautiously with utmost consideration to the entire history of the grounds on which the game is played in St. Andrews. I, personally, am confident that this is already being done.

Steve Smyers, ASGCA, USGA Treasurer

By doing careful surgery St. Andrews would continue to be a worthy championship venue and most likely be able to maintain its historical architectural status. Keeping The Open championship at this historical course would allow golfers all around the world the opportunity to learn and to appreciate more about classical Golf Course Architecture.

(Photos: ASGCA)

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