St. Andrews Links Trust announced on Monday that it will remove stone walkways it had recently added to the sides of the iconic Swilcan Bridge on the 18th hole of the Old Course in Scotland.
Photographs had emerged on social media on Sunday of work being done to the paths leading to the Swilcan Bridge, one of the most recognizable landmarks in golf, and reactions by players and fans were predictable.
In a statement on Monday, St. Andrews Links Trust said it had added the stonework to mitigate the issue of wear and tear to the turf on the sides of the bridge.
“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,” the statement said.
Historians say they believe the Swilcan Bridge might be around 700 years years old. It’s where Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and others have paused to wave and say goodbye to The Open.
Tiger Woods, at the 150th Open last year, walked over the bridge alone and waved his hat but didn’t pause in what might have been his final round in The Open at St. Andrews. The Open might not return there until 2030, when he will be 53.
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? 😱 pic.twitter.com/O1NWIHbIKt
— Sir Nick Faldo (@NickFaldo006) February 5, 2023
In another statement on Sunday, St. Andrews Links Trust noted that “we can categorically state that no works have been undertaken on the bridge itself.”
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
“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,” St. Andrews Links Trust said in Monday’s statement. “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.”