Muirfield is often described as the most fair challenge on The Open rota. And, after making changes to 15 of the 18 holes, leading course designer Russell Talley – who works for the Hawtree Ltd firm – is convinced that reputation will not only be upheld, but further enhanced.
Though the changes have been subtle and sympathetic rather than sweeping, Talley firmly believes the venerable East Lothian course will prove an even sterner test than ever before.
The addition of six new championship tees means the par-71 layout has been extended from 7,034 yards, as it was for 2002’s Open, by 158 yards to 7,192. But it’s not been all about length. There has been a tightening of both driving areas and entrances to greens, with the introduction of new fairway bunkers and relocation of greenside traps to tighten up the approaches. Plus, a number of greens have been extended to provide more pin positions. The work was carried out in two phases and completed in the winter of 2010-11. “We were on hallowed ground and had to get down and do the job and do it well with the support of an excellent team,” said Talley.
HOLE 1 PAR 4 447 YARDS
Former fairway bunker re-instated on left-hand side, where the depression was still visible in the ground. Slight low developed on left side of green and green extended back by about 2m.
HOLE 2 PAR 4 364 YARDS
Championship tee built against wall. Greenside bunkers right re-organised, eliminating two furthest from green edge, moving two bunkers further forwards and more towards the green edge. First existing approach bunker far right reformed, and new approach bunker front right added. Green extended back left to former extent.
HOLE 4 PAR 3 226 YARDS
Championship tee built back and left of present back tee. Left green bunker reformed and gather area in front of it slightly enlarged.
HOLE 6 PAR 4 461 YARDS
Tee widened and slopes extended. Broken ground introduced front left green approach. Greenside bunker right brought forward about 4m.
HOLE 9 PAR 5 554 YARDS
New championship tee extended about 55 yards with existing wall moved back to build a new tee. New FW bunker right in the landing area. The final two of the four approach bunkers on right-hand side of fairway moved. One now has a right-hand side green location and the other one has moved to the left about 10 yards.
HOLE 10 PAR 4 469 YARDS
A fairway bunker has been moved left by displacing two existing fairway bunkers on the right, moving them to the left and adding a new third one further on. So hole plays more like a slight dog-leg right and further away from practice range. Green extended to the right behind the two greenside bunkers.
HOLE 12 PAR 4 379 YARDS
First approach bunker, well right of axis, removed. Greenside bunker left was extended forward and its gather area enlarged in left green’s approach. Right greenside bunker moved left and enlarged slightly.
HOLE 15 PAR 4 448 YARDS
New championship tee extended and left greenside bunker moved to the right.