Just days after it enraged golfers all over the world on social media, St Andrews Links Trust have about-turned on changes to the ancient landmark

The controversial stone pathway installed around golf’s ancient Swilcan Bridge is to be removed, St Andrews Links Trust have confirmed.

The body said it had been “unable to create a look which is in keeping with its iconic setting” at the Old Course and work to reinstate the area with turf would be done in the coming days.

Golfers raged on social media when pictures emerged of the new stonework linking up to the 700-year-old bridge, with Sir Nick Faldo and Ken Brown among those criticising the change.

The Trust had said the area around the iconic structure frequently fell into disrepair because of the foot traffic of “tens of thousands of golfers and countless other visitors seeking to have their photograph taken at the landmark”.

They added that they’d tried various solutions – including hybrid and artificial turf – without success.

But the clamour for the stonework to be removed continued and the Dundee Courier revealed Fife Council were investigating whether it may even require retrospective planning permission.

Now the Trust have “taken the decision to remove” the paving and will explore alternative options to protect the approach to the bridge from wear and tear.

A statement read: “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 for such a popular location 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 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.

“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.  

“In the coming days our team will be reinstating the area with turf. We would like to thank golfers for their patience as we continue this work.

“In the meantime we will continue to explore alternative options for a permanent solution and will work with all relevant partners, including Fife Council, and key stakeholders.”

What do you think? Is the right decision to remove the stonework and what could protect the approach to the Swilcan Bridge from wear and tear? Let me know with a tweet.

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

PGA Catalunya Stadium PGA Catalunya Stadium

The NCG Top 100s Tour is heading to Europe for a multi-day event at PGA Catalunya. Prices start at £799 per golfer.


Subscribe to NCG