The 'Road Hole' at St. Andrews is one of golf's most famous holes and has embarrassed several of the sport's top players when the British Open has been contested at St. Andrews.
The St. Andrews Links Trust, which supervises the Old Course, made the changes mostly for the benefit of the thousands of recreational golfers who find the bunker too difficult.
'It had become too treacherous for the average golfer and even Ernie Els, who is such a great bunker player, had problems getting out of it at the Dunhill Links tournament,' said Caroline Nurse, the communications manager of the St. Andrews Links Trust.
Els needed four shots to get out of the bunker en route to a quadruple-bogey eight at the tournament in October.
Traditionalists oppose what they see as tampering with the hole.
'The whole town is in uproar,' said David Malcolm, a former captain of the New Course at St. Andrews. 'Tampering with the bunker is going too far and its loss is a tragedy. A lot of players have cursed it through the years but a lot more will mourn its passing like a dear and familiar old friend.'
St. Andrews last hosted the British Open in 2000 when Tiger Woods dominated the field en route to the career Grand Slam, and will return in 2005.
Virtual Tour of St. Andrews