St Andrews forced to remove controversial Swilcan Bridge ‘patio’ after backlash

The stonework on the approach to the Swilcan Bridge  (@NickFaldo006)
The stonework on the approach to the Swilcan Bridge (@NickFaldo006)

St Andrews has been forced to remove controversial new stonework next to the iconic Swilcan Bridge after pictures of the installation were met with shock, anger and derision.

The Old Course faced a severe backlash, led by six-time major champion Sir Nick Faldo, after adding stonework to the approach to the 600-year-old bridge on the 18th hole.

St Andrews said the turf on either side of the Swilcan Bridge was suffering from wear and tear, as golfers and tourists stopped for pictures at the iconic spot of the historic course, and that the installation would help mitigate against further damage.

However, the stonework was roundly mocked once images of the Swilcan Bridge went viral on social media, with comparisons to a “garden patio” and accusations that the famous view had been ruined by the design.

On Monday evening, St Andrews eventually accepted that the design was out of keeping with the character and history of the Swilcan Bridge and said it would be removed and replaced with new turf.

By Tuesday morning, work was already underway to remove the stonework.

“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,” St Andrews said.

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.”