PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — What was shaping up as one the biggest controversies in golf this year also turned out to be the shortest one.
The Swilcan Bridge on the 18th hole at St. Andrews will be left alone.
The outrage, bordering on horror, began with social media images of the St. Andrews Links Trust extending the start of the bridge to include a circular patio of stones that did not look like they had been there for 700 years.
“The ongoing works are solely focused 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,” St. Andrews said in a statement issued Sunday.
I can’t stay silent any longer. A buddy of mine @TheFliersClub sent this over.
Really really really really egregious shit, esp from this angle. This looks like a DIY backyard patio. I know its tough to grow grass in that high traffic area, but my goodness. Horrible. pic.twitter.com/EHhZN7vNeu
— Tron Carter (@TronCarterNLU) February 4, 2023
Golf Digest met with Links Trust officials on Monday. Laurie Watson, the external relations and media manager, told Digest the area in front of the bridge was a quagmire just three months after the British Open. Watson said the Links Trust has tried using artificial turf, rubber rocks and turf seeding, and yet nothing has worked.
The controversial Swilcan Bridge ‘patio’ has been REMOVED.
St Andrews Links Trust bosses were forced to make a U-turn following outrage from fans and some of golf’s biggest names, including former Open champ @NickFaldo006. pic.twitter.com/K2FZY9wmIP
— The Courier (@thecourieruk) February 7, 2023
“So this is the next step in trying to find a potential solution,” Watson told Golf Digest.
And then it wasn’t. A few hours later, the Links Trust, which oversees the Old Course and six other public courses in the Scottish town, said it was abandoning the plan.
“The stonework at the approach and exit of the bridge was identified as one possible long-term solution, however while this installation would have proved 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,” said an updated statement issued Monday.
The bridge, regarded as the most famous landmark in golf, originally was built to allow shepherds get across the small stream. In recent years, shepherds have given way to the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods, all of whom have been photographed crossing it for the final time at the home of golf.