They have thwarted the world’s top golfers from Nicklaus to Nakajima, and now the Old Course bunkers are once again ready for action. With less than four months until the Open Championship returns to the Home of Golf for the 27th time, St Andrews Links Trust greenkeepers are priming the Old Course bunkers for the new season.
The work means notorious traps, such as the Road Hole Bunker, Shell and Cartgate, are being returned to a state of play following a major rebuilding programme. In total, 94 of the 112 bunkers have been revetted to counter the effects of erosion and to prepare the course for the 134th Open Championship.
Euan Grant, head greenkeeper of the Old Course, commented that although final preparations for this year’s Open Championship would continue until the event, completing the bunkers by April was an important stage, as the sand needs time to settle.
“When the bunkers come back into play, we can concentrate more on turf and course presentation,” he said. “In the lead-up to the Open Championship, we will want the course to be drier and faster, and additional growth will mean the greens will get smoother.”
The Old Course’s bunkers often play a starring role in the Open Championship. David Duval, for instance, fell foul of the Road Hole Bunker in 2000 dropping valuable strokes and any chance of the Claret Jug as he pursued Tiger Woods. The sad sight of Tommy Nakajima attempting to escape from the same trap during the 1978 Open will also live on many people’s memories, while Jack Nicklaus famously took four shots to escape Hell Bunker in 1995.
With the stage set for more drama in July, the Trust’s greenkeepers are ensuring the bunkers are suitably prepared through sand shaping and the application of additional top dressing to ensure the new turf knits-in properly. While progress is weather dependent, the work will be completed by the start of the season.
St Andrews Links Trust www.standrews.org.uk