Friday, October 16, 2009

It's the Road Hole -- only longer

Perhaps proving that no hole in golf is untouchable, officials have announced that St. Andrews' famous Road Hole -- the par-4 many consider the most famous in golf -- will be lengthened by 35 yards for the 2010 Open Championship.

The tee, according to reports, will be moved back while maintaining the unusual requirement of forcing players to hit their drives over an old coal shed not far from the tee. It's a quirky thing but it's part of the charm of the great hole as players aim over letters painted on the shed, hitting drives into a fairway they can't see.

I'm not sure the hole needed any additional yardage but R&A officials decided it did. The added distance should put a greater premium on an accurate tee shot, likely forcing players to hit drivers. Approach shots, meanwhile, will be longer, bringing more into play the Road Hole bunker and the road itself, which sits behind the green.

If you've ever played the Road Hole, you know how cool it is. The funky tee shot is just part of the fun. Knowing all the great ones have played there, looking at the green and the gaping bunker, framed on one side by the Old Course Hotel and on the other by the town, it's a fantastic spot.

For more than 100 years, the Road Hole has been essentially untouched. Not any more.