The responses were in, and they weren’t pretty. When pictures surfaced from St Andrews of work done to the path leading toward the famed Swilcan Bridge on the 18th hole of the Old Course, golfers on social media were quick to note their displeasure with the new look. The overarching question being raised: why?
On Sunday, the St Andrews Links Trust, which oversees the Old Course along with six other public courses in the Scottish town, issued a statement to try to explain. Attempting to assuage fears that anything had been actually done to the iconic arch, which some historians date back some 700 years, it begins by noting: “For the avoidance of any doubt, we can categorically state that no works have been undertaken to the bridge itself.”
Rather, the work is being done to address the turf leading up to the bridge, which the Links Trust noted is often damaged due to the traffic it receives from thousands of visitors taking pictures of the famed 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. These include installation of hybrid and synthetic artificial turf and the regular replacement, reseed and support of natural turf, but none have proven to be successful in adequately protecting the area from the significant wear and tear.”
The Links Trust noted that a stone pathway leading up to the bridge had been in place and that the current work was an attempt to try and replicate that while still addressing the larger problem.
But is what has been put in place a “permanent solution”? The statement suggests that might not be the case.
“It should be noted that the works are not yet complete and ongoing efforts are being undertaken to ensure any final installation, including size, shape and material, is in keeping with its surroundings ahead of the growing season in Scotland.
“We recognise that as such an iconic landmark in golf, the Swilcan Bridge retains a special place in the heart of many golfers and as such can be an emotive topic. We are confident we will find the best ongoing solution to preserve the iconic nature of the Swilcan Bridge and its surroundings while ensuring that as many people as possible can continue to visit the site year round.”