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Old Course to be brought up to scratch for Open

For golf enthusiasts and traditionalists, the mere thought of tinkering with the Old Course at St Andrews will be akin to scribbling a moustache on the Mona Lisa.

With the Open Championship returning to the cradle of the game in 2015, however, this tinkering will begin at the weekend having being approved by the St Andrews Links Trust and the Royal & Ancient's Championship Committee.

During the two-phase operation – one this winter and one next – a total of nine holes will be given various nips, tucks and alterations with the famous Road Hole bunker on the 17th undergoing the most high profile work.

The greenside sand trap, which has been the scene of many a golfing calamity, has been tweaked numerous times down the years, with some changes causing uproar among the locals.

The work, based on recommendations by the renowned architect Martin Hawtree, will result in the bunker being widened by half a metre at its right hand side and to something resembling what it used to look like back in the 1940s. A small portion of the front of the green will be re-contoured so that approach shots landing there will trundle back into the trap.

As well as the 17th, work will also take place on the second, third, fourth, sixth, ninth, 11th and 15th holes. A telling change to the 11th will involve the back left portion of the green being lowered to create more pin positions. During the 2010 Open, high winds on the second day caused numerous problems, with balls moving on the exposed green, and it is believed that such issues helped drive the change.

"The Championship Committee felt there was an opportunity to stiffen its defences in some places to ensure it remains as challenging as ever to the professionals," said Peter Dawson, the R&A's chief executive. "The proposals should place more of a premium on accuracy and ball control while retaining the spirit and character of the Old Course."

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