St Andrews caves on changes to Swilcan Bridge as Sir Nick Faldo leads backlash
- Installation of stonework leading up to bridge prompts ire
- Area around famous landmark will be reinstated with turf
St Andrews have been forced to remove a paved area next to the Swilcan Bridge after a huge backlash swelled against the changes to the feature at the Old Course. Stonework leading up to the bridge was recently installed to protect the surrounding grass, which would often become muddy with heavy foot traffic, with Sir Nick Faldo one of the leading opposing voices to the new masonry.
The bridge, which is more than 600 years old, is located on possibly the most hallowed ground in all of golf and so any alterations are heavily scrutinised, with the new addition described by some as “a garden patio”, completely out of character with its historic surroundings.
No changes have been made to the actual bridge but after the St Andrews Link Trust released a statement “addressing concerns” on Sunday – explaining that other options had been explored and that the bridge historically had a stone pathway leading up to it – a further statement was later provided, confirming the stonework would actually be removed and that the bridge’s paved approach would be replaced with turf.
“The stonework at the approach and exit of the bridge was identified as one possible long-term solution,” St Andrews said on Monday. “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 recognising 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 will continue to explore alternative options for a permanent solution.”
Faldo had pulled no punches before the removal of the stonework was confirmed, saying it might be better to miss the 18th fairway altogether, while Ken Brown, the former Scottish Ryder Cup player turned golf analyst for the BBC, joked that the Swilcan Bridge was “now serving food. A table for fore please. Serving barbeque meals. Book early.”
Alternative options have previously been explored by St Andrews. Hybrid and synthetic artificial turf and the regular replacement, reseed and support of natural turf have been installed but none have proven to be successful.
So the tens of thousands of golfers who approach the Swilcan Bridge in 2023 will do so on grass. Spikes are advised.
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