The St Andrews Links Trust has has confirmed that renovation work around the Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course at St Andrews, which was compared to a ‘DIY garden patio’, will be removed as soon as is practical.
The historic crossing, estimated to be 700 years old, provides arguably the most famous photo opportunity in golf. As a result the St Andrews Links Trust, which manages the Old Course, said the approach area regularly falls into disrepair. But its solution, a new round paved area, was widely criticised on social media.
After several days of public outrage and indignation expressed by a wide range of amateur and professional golfers, including Sir Nick Faldo and Ken Brown, the Trust said it will remove the offending construction and reinstate it to its original turf state in the coming days.
After initially issuing a statement that the stone paving was the only viable alternative to having to constantly replace the turf or use synthetic grass to repair worn areas in front of the bridge, the Trust backed down in the wake of a stream of negative comments, saying: “We have 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. We believe we are unable to create a look which is in keeping its iconic setting and have taken the decision to remove it.”
The statement from the St Andrews Links Trust, which emphasised that no work had taken place on the bridge itself, added: “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,” the Links trust’s statement concluded.
The trust said it would continue to work with partners, including Fife Council, to ‘explore alternative options for a permanent solution’.