Golf: Duncan out to exorcise 'Carnasty'

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HAVING been pleased with the player reaction at the 2007 Open Championship and again last year, for the Senior Open Championship, Carnoustie officials are keen that the Angus course isn't set up to be too tough when it stages the Ricoh Women's British Open for the first time later this year.

Mindful of the whinging that led the course to be branded as "Carnasty" after the 1999 Open Championship, Graeme Duncan, general manager of Carnoustie Golf Links, has revealed he will be expressing strong views about how it should be set up in July in forthcoming meetings with the Ladies Golf Union and the event's promoter, IMG.

"It is the LGU and IMG who set up the course, but we will be making our views known," he told The Scotsman. "If you think back to 1999, when the course got a bad reputation as some people claimed it was too tough."

Newly-appointed US Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III, in particular, was vitriolic in his remarks at the time, pointing at the unlikely victor, Scotland's Paul Lawrie, and declaring: "Carnoustie has got the champion it deserves."

According to Duncan, criticism of the course was "redressed" when Padraig Harrington lifted the Claret Jug in 2007, while players offered nothing but praise, both for the test they were presented with and the condition of the course, when Bernhard Langer won the Senior Open Championship last summer.

"Now we don't want the course set up in a way that it is too challenging for the ladies," he added. "We don't want players to be coming off the course talking about horror stories.

"Nothing has been decided yet about what the actual yardage will be that week, but I'd say 6,500-6,660 is about the limit. The course is 6,900 yards off our normal back tees for members, but I think the ladies will be a bit forward from that.

"On the back nine in particular there are a lot of carries and we are keen for our views to be known on this."

Delighted to be staging another of golf's majors - "we went down to Birkdale last year to have a look and it is a big event," noted Duncan - Carnoustie are not resting on their laurels, as evidenced by a significant investment in a new pro centre.

The 1,000 square metre building will house a professional's shop, locker-rooms and toilet facilities. It will also have a viewing gallery that looks out over the golf course and is designed to be used by both golfers and members of the general public.

"We are a bit behind on the pro centre due to a bad December weatherwise. We are probably a couple of weeks behind so we are keeping an eye on it. It is nothing too serious, though, and we are hoping to get back on schedule so that it opens a few weeks before the Women's Open," said Duncan."It is being built 50 yards from the first tee and is the sort of facility you have to provide these days, especially when you are charging 130 for a round of golf. We are in a similar situation to St Andrews when they built the Links Clubhouse."