St Andrews will remove Swilcan Bridge renovation after u-turn
St Andrews is forced into an embarrassing u-turn and will REMOVE the ‘DIY patio’ renovation of the iconic Swilcan Bridge after a big backlash from golfers – despite defending the changes just a DAY earlier
- The St Andrews Links Trust undertook renovations around the Swilcan Bridge
- A new paved area received significant criticism from across the golfing world
- The renovations will be removed in the coming days and turf will be reinstated
The St Andrews Links Trust has been forced into a humiliating u-turn and will remove the paved area placed at either side of the iconic Swilcan Bridge following significant criticism from golf fans – and just a day after they had defended the renovations.
The bridge at St Andrews, estimated to be 700 years old, provides arguably the most famous photo opportunity in golf.
Legends including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods have famously been pictured walking over the bridge, after teeing off on the 18th hole, to bid farewell to the Open Championship, which is played at the Old Course every five years, while champions have also posed on the bridge with the Claret Jug.
A paved area on each side of the iconic Old Course bridge had been built in order to deal with damage from wear and tear.
However, the renovations had generated significant backlash, including from former Open champion Sir Nick Faldo, English star Eddie Pepperell and legendary commentator Ken Brown, while others had described it as a ‘DIY patio’.
The St Andrews Links Trust was forced into a humiliating u-turn and will remove the paved area (pictured) placed at either side of the iconic Swilcan Bridge following significant criticism
The biggest names in golf like Tiger Woods have been pictured walking over the bridge
Brown had tweeted: ‘The Swilken Bridge now serving food. A table for Fore please,’ while Faldo – who won his second of three Open championships at the Old Course in 1990 – added: ‘If you’ve travelled halfway around the world for your bucket list round at St Andrews, would you rather leave with a bit of historic dirt on your shoes or a few cement mix scraps?’
English golf pro Eddie Pepperell added: ‘It’s an absolute mess. The most famous bridge in golf, and look at what some f****** has come up with! Hard to believe.’
And, following heavy criticism from around the world objecting to the work done on the bridge, St Andrews admitted they would remove the alterations.
In a statement, the St Andrews Links Trust said: ‘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 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 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.
Sir Nick Faldo was one of several names from across the world of golf to slam the paved area
The turf that used to surround the iconic bridge will now be reinstated over the coming days
‘In the coming days our team will be reinstating the area with turf.’
The embarrassing u-turn comes just a day after the course had defended their decision to introduce a paved area in a statement on Sunday, while insisting that no work had taken place on the bridge itself.
The statement had said: ‘The ongoing works are solely focussed on the turfed approach area to the bridge, which regularly falls into disrepair due to the significant foot traffic by tens of thousands of golfers and countless other visitors seeking to have their photograph taken at the landmark.
‘In order to avoid having to close the bridge to foot traffic during certain periods of the year, a number of solutions have been attempted previously.’
The trust said this included the installation of hybrid and synthetic artificial turf and the regular method – replacement, reseed and support of natural turf.
But it said these solutions did not prove successful in ‘adequately protecting the area from the significant wear and tear’.
The renovations were defended as an attempt to deal with wear and tear around the bridge
It added: ‘Historically the bridge has previously seen a stone pathway leading onto it and the current works are designed to see if we can replicate this while being fit for purpose for the amount of foot traffic it has to endure.
‘The shape of the current installation covers the ground that receives the most traffic as the area where the majority of photographs are taken of people on the bridge.’
The statement had concluded that the works were ongoing and said the final result would be ‘in keeping with its surroundings’, but they have now u-turned on that.
The 150th Open championship took place at St Andrews last year with Australian Cameron Smith edging to victory after a thrilling final day of action, narrowly overcoming Cameron Young and Rory McIlroy.
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