There are traditionalists by the thousand who abhor the current compulsion for altering historically revered golf courses.
Don?t tinker with masterpieces is the defensive theme.
Thus, in order to protect it from Tiger Woods and the other high-calibre shot-smiths, when the R&A took the hammer and chisel to St Andrews, dismay was in the air. ?Vandalism!? was the cry.
But Nick Faldo has declined to join the chorus.
?The changes are good,? he said with some defiance yesterday. ?Now you?ve got to put your thinking caps on.?
Faldo, who won the second of his three Open Championships over the Old Course in 1990 with a score of 18-under-par, paid particular attention to holes, 12, 13 and 14.
Do you lay up short of the cross bunkers on the 12th? he wondered. Do you play between them?
?Or, if you?re long enough, do you bomb it over them??
Those were some of the questions he asked and this was one of the statements he made: ?I don?t think the course sets up for Tiger Woods.?
He covered that one by confirming that Woods has to be the tournament favourite.
?He comes here with a mission, as always.?
Faldo?s 18-under score 15 years ago was beaten by Woods in 2000. Can the American beat his own record this time?
?If the wind isn?t there, sure,? Faldo replied. ?It?s really quite short going out and I?m sure they are going to have to protect the course with some serious pins.?
Faldo was able to tell us that not only had Woods played four rounds without going into a bunker five years ago, he had now played two practice rounds and hadn?t found sand this time, either.
?The strategy of this golf course is respect for the bunkers. When I won here, I found one bunker,? said the Englishman.
After paying Woods his due, Faldo moved on to the generation of British golfers who have followed his.
?Our guys have been performing well and we?ve got plenty of good players. But who?s got the 15th club with which to finish the job?? he pondered.
He mentioned Luke Donald as a likely contender.
?And Lee Westwood. He?s consistent in the wind.?
It is assumed that because the Open is always played on links courses that home players have an advantage. A look at recent Open results rather dampens that theory.
?We don?t play many links courses throughout the year on the Tour,? said Faldo. ?The secret is to know what you?re doing in practice, how much release there is on each hole.
?Look how [Tom] Watson used to come over and kill us, simply because he knew what he was doing. He was a great ball-striker and would land the ball where he intended. That?s the simple secret.?
Faldo played a practice round yesterday with Jack Nicklaus. He had gone out of his way to engage the great man and had shot a 68 to beat him.
?I?ve got my picture on the bridge with Jack,? he said proudly. And so had his practice round caddie, 16-year-old son Matthew.
?A pretty neat picture for him as well.?
Nicklaus, as Faldo has acknowledged many times, was the man who inspired him to take up the game.
?I think it?s fantastic that he?s come here to St Andrews to play his last major. That?s just brilliant,? said Faldo. As for Donald being hampered by playing with Nicklaus on Thursday and Friday, Faldo scorned the suggestion. ?I think it will be a big help because Jack is still a competitor.?
Then to Tony Jacklin, whose last Open this might also be.
?His golden years were through the Ryder Cup; he transformed the Ryder Cup because his captaincy was the best,? said Faldo. ?European golf should definitely do something for Tony.?