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Changes made to Carnoustie

Golfers in this year's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship will face the challenge of major course changes designed to spice up the historic Carnoustie links near Dundee ahead of the 2007 Open Championship.

Carnoustie is one of three courses, along with the Old Course at St Andrews and Kingsbarns Golf Links, which will stage this year's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship from October 5-8. The tournament, conceived as a celebration of links golf, is competed for by one of the strongest fields in Europe.

The most significant change has seen a complete re-design of the par 4 3rd hole which it was felt was no longer offering a strong enough challenge to professional golfers. Golf architect Martin Hawtree, who has worked with the R&A at Royal Birkdale, was brought in to re-think the hole.

While the hole remains 337 yards from the Championship tee, the new design provides a series of options from the tee which will make even the world's top players pause and think. A finger of rough extends out into the fairway at 230 yards and the player will have to decide whether to carry this and still stop the ball short of the ditch in front of the green or whether it might be easier just to lay up. The lay up itself is now fraught with dangers. A small island of rough sits in the middle of the fairway which must be avoided, and any player being too cautious will be faced with over 170 yards for the second shot.

A smaller, but significant change has been made at the 6th hole, one of the most famous holes in championship golf, known as Hogan's Alley, after Ben Hogan hit the ball down the narrow gap between the bunkers and the out of bounds fence for four rounds in a row on his way to winning the 1953 Open Championship.

The existing fairway bunkers were deemed not to offer a sufficient threat to the modern player with a carry of 280 yards, so an additional bunker has been added behind and slightly to the right of the existing bunkers making the carry for all the bunkers 310 yards. The intention here is to encourage the player to go down the traditional, but risky route of Hogan's Alley.

The final change is the smallest but may well prove to have the most impact. The rough on the right hand side of the 17th hole has not grown very well over the last number of years and the ground is quite flat and featureless. This gave players the option of baling out to the right hand side well away from the Barry Burn and the tee shot was really providing very little threat for the skilled golfer.

Contours have been added in that area which although subtle will provide dips and swales for the rough to grow. The intention is to make the players aware that if they go in this area they will have limited control over the second shot and make them focus on the island fairway as the area to land the drive. Given its position as the 17th, it could well prove to be one of the most decisive holes in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and the 2007 Open Championship.

Graeme Duncan, Carnoustie Links General Manager, said: “These changes will get their first serious examination at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and it will be very interesting to see what the professionals make of the new challenge.”

Entrance to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship will be FREE on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A ticket price of £15 (concessionary £10) will be charged for the final day's play over the Old Course on Sunday, October 8. Under 16's and students are FREE. Tickets are available through the ticket hotline on 0870 010 9021 or at the entrance gate. There is free parking for spectators, and a free shuttle bus service will be in operation between courses.

June 27, 2006


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