This week's Open Championship at Muirfield is set to be held on the firmest course seen in major tournament play since the 2006 event at Royal Liverpool. Heatwave conditions over the past few weeks have seen the East Lothian course start to burn out, while the Muirfield rough, thick after a cold, wet spring, remains intimidating.
Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell, one of the favourites for the Claret Jug, described the rough as 'proper thick' in a tweet, and recent photographs from Muirfield have shown most fairways lined with tall fescue. Added to the firm conditions, the difficult rough has led many commentators to suggest that players will largely eschew the driver this week, and that controlling the flight of the ball will be particularly important, especially if the wind gets up.
The Muirfield course – the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers' home since 1892, after moves from Leith Links and Musselburgh – was originally designed by Old Tom Morris, but today's layout is largely the work of Harry Colt. Architect Martin Hawtree has made changes to fifteen of the course's holes in the run up to this Open. The famous uphill par three thirteenth has been lengthened to over 190 yards, while a land swap with the next door Renaissance Club enabled a new back tee to be built at the par five ninth.