All change at St Mellion

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By Sean Dudley

A well-known name is returning to the European Tour schedule from next year. The Jack Nicklaus course at St Mellion in Cornwall will host the English Open for a minimum of five years, and both course and resort are being refurbished in preparation.

Course operator Crown Golf is investing a significant amount of money in updating and enhancing the resort's facilities. Plans include refurbishing all cart paths, championship tees and bunkers on the Nicklaus course. Work started in mid-March and will continue until October this year.

Significant works to the resort's Old Course are also planned, including a number of new tees and greens. The existing practice area will be rebuilt and a dedicated short game area created. Changes to the Old Course are intended to make it more challenging, and will result in a slightly longer par 69 golf course, comprising two loops of nine starting and finishing at the hotel. The changes will be overseen by Nicklaus Design, with an expected completion date of early 2010. "High visibility professional tournament golf is vital to our plans and the English Open is a famous title," said John Weir, chief operating officer of Crown Golf. "Our new hotel will provide outstanding accommodation at the event and the Jack Nicklaus signature course will have an improved irrigation system plus tees, greens and bunkers all enhanced to meet the standards demanded by the European Tour." As well as the courses, there will be an extensive programme of refurbishment to the range facility and other practice areas to create a professional golf academy and teaching centre staffed and managed by the South West's PGA professional team. The development will also include a new 80- bedroom, four star-standard hotel and 265 golf homes in four designated locations on the site.

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