Two days after photos surfaced of a new patio structure surrounding the Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course at St. Andrews, plans for the addition are off. St. Andrews Links Trust has decided to yield to the substantial criticism after the photos drew poor reviews over the weekend.
"The stonework at the approach and exit of the bridge was identified as one possible long-term solution," read a statement from the St. Andrews Links Trust. "However, while this installation would have provided some protection, in this instance we believe we are unable to create a look which is in keeping with its iconic setting and have taken the decision to remove it."
The premise was understandable with a goal of preserving the area, which gets trampled daily by tourists and professionals alike who hope to visit and take pictures near the Swilican Bridge.
Stones were laid in a circle leading up to the base of the bridge. While this worked functionally, the aesthetic of a bridge from the 1300s receiving a quick and seemingly hastily arranged makeover was ... not great. Here's a look.
An update on the golfers bridge. Initially, I thought it was OK, but I'm increasingly not sure at all... pic.twitter.com/ANWwMfOsp1— Kieran Harris (@Heritagecricket) February 4, 2023
Many famous moments have transpired at this bridge. The most recent came at the 150th Open Championship last year when Tiger Woods walked over the bridge, doffed his cap and continued on up the 18th fairway as slipped from his eyes.
While the importance of this bridge and its place in the game is probably a bit overstated (how could it not be?), this was still a potentially brazen change to one of the most historically significant landmarks in the entire sport.
To the St. Andrews Links Trust's credit, it heard the outcry from the golf community and opted to look for a short-term solution in the form of turf. Here is its full statement that was released on Monday.
The exploratory works around the approach to and from the Swilcan Bridge had been undertaken as part of ongoing attempts to mitigate the issue of significant wear and tear to the turf. In recent years we have identified and trialled a number of solutions, with the primary ambition always to find something that is both adequate for the amount of foot traffic for such a popular location whilst being in keeping with its surroundings.
The stonework at the approach and exit of the bridge was identified as one possible long term solution, however while this installation would have provided some protection, in this instance we believe we are unable to create a look which is in keeping with its iconic setting and have taken the decision to remove it. We have also taken on feedback from many partners and stakeholders as well as the golfing public and we would like to thank everyone who has been in touch for their contribution to the issue. The widespread attention and commentary is indicative of the regard in which St Andrews is held around the world and we are conscious of our role in preserving this heritage while recognizing its hallowed grounds have continued to evolve to meet demands for more than 600 years.
In the coming days our team will be reinstating the area with turf. We would like to thank golfers for their patience as we continue this work. In the meantime we will continue to explore alternative options for a permanent solution and will work with all relevant partners, including Fife Council, and key stakeholders.
The image from October 2022 highlights the issue of wear & tear in the area and the problem we are seeking to resolve to ensure the bridge remains accessible for all golfers and visitors throughout the year. pic.twitter.com/Fln8jqP9gg— St Andrews Links (@TheHomeofGolf) February 5, 2023