fbpx
st andrews

‘Absolute vandalism’: Golfers rail against Swilcan Bridge changes

The St Andrews Links Trust has been forced to respond after a new stone pathway around the historic Old Course landmark sent social media - along with some pretty prominent golf personalities - into a fury
 

Note: This Swilcan Bridge story has now been updated. Click here for the latest news.

Crazy paving or a much-needed makeover? Golfers have been raging on social media after pictures revealed a controversial new look to the historic Swilcan Bridge.

It’s probably the sport’s most well-trodden walkway with tens of thousands of players every year emulating the likes of Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tiger Woods in passing over the ancient structure that crosses the burn on their way up the 18th fairway of the Old Course at St Andrews.

The hallowed turf leading up to the bridge, which is thought to be more than 700 years old, can get chewed up in inclement conditions and St Andrews Links Trust have tried a variety of means through the years to protect the area from wear and tear.

But now they’ve constructed a circular stone pathway and the addition sent Twitter into apoplexy when images of it were shared on the platform and throughout the internet.

“They have ruined the Swilcan Bridge,” was one of the more conservative views expressed, with others – including some pretty prominent figures in the world of golf – being far more forthright.

“It’s an absolute mess,” said DP World Tour stalwart Eddie Pepperell, with David Cannon, the legendary golf photographer, simply replying: “No.”

European Tour legend turned TV pundit Ken Brown suggested the newly installed area was “now serving food”, quipping: “A table for fore please.”

Sir Nick Faldo, who won the The Open at St Andrews in 1990, described it as “worst [sic] than missing the fairway left!”

While some commenters believed the measures were needed, in the main, golfers were united that the alterations constituted “absolute vandalism”.

Such was the outcry that St Andrews Links Trust issued a statement on Sunday afternoon in a bid to explain the project.

They produced a picture from October last year which showed how extensive the damage can become around the bridge and how the work is aimed at making sure it can stay open throughout the year.

They also said the project was not yet finished and that efforts were being made to ensure that the “final installation” was in keeping with the surroundings.

“We would like to address some concerns that have been raised regarding works that are currently underway on the approach area to the Swilcan Bridge,” the statement read.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, we can categorically state that no works have been undertaken to the bridge itself.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.”

What do you make of the changes to the Swilcan Bridge? Let us know with a tweet.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

Latest Posts

Club

Long-time volunteer Michael Rees presented with England Golf award

By

Read full article about Long-time volunteer Michael Rees presented with England Golf award
England Golf Awards

Club

Heroes of the club game celebrated at historic England Golf Awards

By

Read full article about Heroes of the club game celebrated at historic England Golf Awards
How much do member subs contribute to the golf club budget?

Club

How much do member subs contribute to the golf club budget?

By

Read full article about How much do member subs contribute to the golf club budget?
Why your clubs have joining fees - and could they be improved?

Club

Why your clubs have joining fees – and could they be improved?

By

Read full article about Why your clubs have joining fees – and could they be improved?
committee for golf club salaries

Club

Want high standards on your golf course? Pay for them!

By

Read full article about Want high standards on your golf course? Pay for them!
visitor golf green fees

Club

How much did your club pull in from visitor green fees?

By

Read full article about How much did your club pull in from visitor green fees?
shorter golf ball

Club

A shorter golf ball? It’s clubs who will need to make it work

By

Read full article about A shorter golf ball? It’s clubs who will need to make it work
golf slow play

Club

Here are five (really) easy ways to speed up your weekend game

By

Read full article about Here are five (really) easy ways to speed up your weekend game
carus geen golf club

Club

This 93-year-old must have set a club golf record!

By

Read full article about This 93-year-old must have set a club golf record!