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Muirfield Marches On

So much for the claim by some media wags that the changes made to Muirfield by third-generation architect and Open advance man Martin Hawtree were so extensive that the design of the links should be attributed to him, not H.S. Colt, who devised the clever double-loop routing in 1925 from an earlier plan by Old Tom Morris. Despite tweaks to 15 holes, notably the addition of eight new back tees, eight relocated or enlarged greenside bunkers, and several greens expanded to Colt’s original perimeters, the storied links, universally praised by the pros for its fairness, looks not much different from the place where Ernie Els captured the 2002 Open Championship. According to R & A chief executive Peter Dawson, a fund was created to bring the nine courses on the Open rota into the modern era. He said an average of about $800,000 had been spent on each course, adding that while “quite a few changes” were made at Muirfield, “they are very subtle.” Preservationists can rest easy: the game’s top players are navigating a classic links built by Colt and touched up by Hawtree.

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