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Controversial changes to the Swilcan Bridge in St Andrews have been the talk of Golf Twitter all weekend.

Unless you have, ironically enough, been living under a bridge for the last couple of days, you can’t have failed to notice new stonework has been introduced at both sides of the iconic bridge that connects the tee with the fairway on the closing hole of the Old Course.

It’s a move that has been widely derided on social media, with golf fans and players – amongst them Sir Nick Faldo – tweeting their shock (and in some cases, disgust) at the work.

Now, those responsible for maintaining the course have explained why they’ve done it.

A spokesperson for St Andrews Links Trust said: “For the avoidance of 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 turf and the regular replacement, reseed and support of natural turf but none have proven to be successfully in adequately protecting the area from the significant wear and tear.”

The image below is from October 2022 and shows issues faced with foot traffic crossing the bridge.

Swilcan Bridge October 2022

“Historically, the bridge has previously seen a stone pathway leading onto it,” added the St Andrews Links Trust spokesperson. “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 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 to visit the site year round.”

Main pic: @UKGolfGuy

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Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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