St Andrews Abandons Swilcan Bridge Changes Following Backlash

A short-lived experiment to add a stone pathway on the approach to the bridge has been shelved

Swilcan Bridge at The Old Course, St Andrews
(Image credit: Getty Images)

An experiment to include a stone pathway on the approach to the world-famous Swilcan Bridge at St Andrews’ Old Course has been abandoned following a social media backlash.

Work was seen taking place on Tuesday with the 'patio' removed by a digger and the area ready to be re-turfed

Word that changes had been made broke last week with an image of a patio-style addition at the foot of the bridge. However, the reaction from golf fans was not positive, with one Twitter user saying it was “like drawing a moustache on the Mona Lisa."

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In an attempt to explain the reasoning for the move, St Andrews Links Trust responded to the concerns with a lengthy statement emphasising that no work had taken place on the bridge itself and that it had been done to try and protect the area from the significant foot traffic it attracts. The statement also said: “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."

Whatever that solution is it won’t be the controversial pathway. St Andrews Links Trust has now released a second statement on the issue, this time confirming turf will be reinstated in the area. It explains that the work had been “undertaken as part of ongoing attempts to mitigate the issue of significant wear and tear to the turf.”

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It goes on to state that “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 finishes by confirming that turf will be reinstated “in the coming days” and that “we will continue to explore alternative options for a permanent solution.”

The short-lived change to the approach to the Swilcan Bridge, on the 18th fairway at The Old Course, isn't the only striking alteration to an iconic hole recently. The 13th hole at Augusta National has been lengthened in recent months, with confirmation that it has increased by 35 yards ahead of the 2023 Masters.

Mike Hall

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.