Old Course Confidential: Is St. Andrews too easy for modern-day pros?

The Old Course at St. Andrews is an international delight.

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GOLF’s Top 100 course panelists are among the most respected and well-traveled course evaluators in the game. They’re also keen to share their opinions. In this GOLF.com series, we’ll unlock their unvarnished views on all questions related to the Old Course, host of this week’s Open Championship. The goal is not only to entertain you but also to give you a better understanding of how to understand and appreciate the architecture of the home of golf.

In 2000, Tiger Woods shot a winning four-day score of 19-under here.. In 2010, winner Louis Oosthuizen was 16-under. Five years later, Zach Johnson was 15-under. Is the Old Course too easy for modern-day pros? 

Philip Gawith: All links are vulnerable when not protected by the wind. It was also -15 at Sandwich last year, which seemed a great outcome given little wind (also, like Old Course, a par 70, which is relevant). The short answer is, probably yes, but not uniquely so among championship courses.

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Tim Gallant: Nonsense! They just need to slow the greens down, which will allow them to play in wind that locals play on a daily basis. If the pros play the Old in 30 mph  winds, the winning score would be much higher than in previous years. 

Will Davenport: As much as I love the Old Course, it is certainly the most scorable of venues in the rota. That said, if the winning score at St. Andrews is a few shots better than at sister courses, the world will keep on turning. I hope it never leaves the rotation. But I also pray for a bit of extra wind and elements. As dry as it has been, I expect to see firmness like we haven’t seen in some time!

Christian Faergemann: Today it seems like almost all courses are too easy if the pros are given easier conditions such as soft greens and little wind. The old links courses are defended by firm playing conditions in windy weather. Personally, I would say, who cares what the score is. Let’s just hope for a few windy days to rock the boat a bit. 

James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at james.colgan@golf.com.