R&A spends $16 mil to toughen Open layouts
In an effort to bring its Open Championship venues "into the modern era," R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson says, the organization created a special fund for improvements beginning at the 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
LYTHAM, England (AP) -- Royal and Ancient Chief Executive Peter Dawson says the St. Andrews-based organization has invested $16 million in toughening and tightening all courses used to host the Open Championship, including lengthening the courses for the 2012 and 2013 editions.
Dawson said a fund was created to bring the nine courses used for the Open "into the modern era."
He said an average of about $800,000 had been spent on each course, "but I would say it's money well spent."
And while Dawson earlier detailed changes to this year's host venue at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, he said Tuesday that changes have already been put in place for the 2013 Open venue at Muirfield.
"Everything has been done at Muirfield and it has been done for a few years now," he said. "There are quite a few changes, but they are very subtle."
Dawson said one of the biggest changes at Muirfield was a new back tee at the ninth hole, where 60 to 70 yards had been added to the hole. The 10th fairway has been moved about one-third of its width to provide more room at the practice ground.
"Almost all the changes at Muirfield, apart from the ninth tee, you would not notice them," Dawson said, adding that the course will play some 200 yards longer than when the British Open was last held at Muirfield in 2002.
Dawson also said that while he was impressed with the new Donald Trump course at Aberdeen, he said it would need to be commercially viable to the R&A to take golf's oldest major to the Martin Hawtree-designed course at Balmedie.
"It is a spectacular golf course and it was me who recommended Martin Hawtree to Donald," Dawson. "As for an Open Championship being played there, we will have to wait and see. There is every indication the golf course is very strong, but let's see how it matures and I would say it has a long way to go yet."
The Open starts July 19.