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Is Nothing Sacred?

Even the home of golf, the Old Course at St. Andrews, couldn't escape the wave of renovations sweeping championship venues. SI sent "Gorjus" George Lucas to Scotland to map the major changes

2. From tip to tip the new tee is 43 yards behind the old one, transforming the hole from a ho-hummer into a little devil. From the old tee, guys could see the left side of the wide fairway and Cheape's bunker, and would rip a three-wood, confident that they could avoid the famous trap. Now they can't see anything but a 200-yard expanse of nasty gorse. The blind shot will force players to do some homework in practice to find a patch of gorse at which to aim. They'll have to cut a driver into the prevailing wind to steer clear of Cheape's.

4. If the prevailing headwind blows, this will be the most whined-about tee shot in the history of the majors. Eighteen yards have been added to the hole, meaning it will take a 290-yard carry to get over the sprawling, rough-covered mounds in the middle of the fairway and reach the landing area. There's a 15-yard-wide sliver of fairway to the right and short of the mounds, but even Scott Verplank wouldn't try to thread that needle. Most guys will bail out left toward the adjacent 15th fairway, which is why I measured a sprinkler over there.

12. Before the 12th was lengthened by 37 yards, it was the most routine hole on the course. Now it presents an array of options and requires precise thinking and execution. A few big kahunas will still try to drive the green, but a slight push or pull will end up in gorse so thick and thorny that sheep won't eat it. The rest of the field will use a long iron or a hybrid club and try to land in the 33-yard-deep area between the fairway bunkers, which contains the perfectly flat Mayor's Office. That'll leave a 100-yard punch to the green.

14. The R&A is billing the 14th--which I think is one of the best par-5s on earth--as the Longest Hole in Open Championship history, replacing the 601-yard 6th at Royal Troon, but it's not. The R&A says 14 is 618 yards long, or 37 yards longer than it was in 2000. In fact, the hole is only 24 yards longer, measuring 605 from a point three yards from the back edge of the tee, down the geometric center line of the hole to the geometric center of the green. (That's how I've always measured a hole.)


George Lucas

 My fave, but it's not 618 yards! 


George Lucas




Lucas (with Woody) has made the tour pros' yardage books since 1976. He measured St. Andrews in April.