St Andrews close to `disaster'

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The Independent Online
It is just as well that they are playing the 124th Open Championship in July rather than March. The Old Course at St Andrews could have been overrun by paramedics, writes Tim Glover.

The Royal and Ancient clubhouse, probably the most famous landmark in golf, is bedecked with scaffolding after potentially fatal flaws were found in the walls. Decorators were called in to repair window frames but discovered that the "big room" balcony, which overlooks the first hole, was in danger of collapse.

"It could have been a disaster," Michael Bonallack, secretary of the R & A, said. "All our past captains use that balcony for the Open and we could have lost the lot. The standard of brickwork at the turn of the century was poor compared to the work done today."

The Open will be the swansong not only of Arnold Palmer but two other Americans, Jack Nicklaus and Ray Floyd. The 17th hole, by reputation the most difficult on the course, is being toughened. The rough between the road and the green will be longer and rougher.