After reflection, St. Andrews takes a step back from Swilcan Bridge renovation

St. Andrews Links – the majestic sporting haven in Scotland that has outlasted great champions, monarchs and well-to-do duffers – caved on Monday and scrapped plans for a patio-like surface near Swilcan Bridge.

Few places in golf invite as many pilgrimages as the Stone Bridge, which crosses a burn on the Old Course’s 18th hole and is the centerpiece of photographs that appear in Scottish pubs, man caves all over the American suburbs and the office of Tiger Woods in Florida. So it was perhaps foreseeable that even a well-intentioned remodeling of the area around it, worn by the shoes of many thousands of players and visitors, would lead to fury, confusion and more than a few memes.

Golf, you may have heard, does not always like change, and the resulting kerfuffle will amount to a brief, albeit breathtakingly effective, chapter in the very long history – perhaps more than 700 years old – from a 30 foot bridge. The whole feud, of course, could have been avoided if the bridge had remained true to its longstanding mission of feeding livestock.

But since that didn’t happen and because a lot of people can’t imitate Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus or Woods on their scoreboards, they just gather on deck, wave like a British Open champion, commemorate the moment for Facebook or Instagram and walk their way, leaving the ragged turf behind.

The idea that sparked the scorn, course officials said over the weekend, was to replicate a past stone path and guard against repeated episodes of “disrepair” after a handful of other strategies, including artificial turf, have proven insufficient. They added that they could ‘state categorically that no work has been undertaken on the bridge itself’.

As if that would calm down, say, the people of Twitter. On Monday night, the Old Course was looking for another solution, new, old or at least not This A.

“Masonry at the approach and exit from the bridge has been identified as a possible long-term solution,” course administrators said in a statement which conceded that “although this installation would have provided some protection, in this case, we feel we are unable to create a look in keeping with its iconic setting and have made the decision to remove it.

The statement noted “comments from many partners and stakeholders as well as the golfing public,” which was the most apt way to characterize the disdain and mockery fueled by social media.

“What were those idiots thinking while building this?” Hank Haney, who once coached Woods, wrote on Twitter Sunday. Nick Faldo, whose six major tournament titles included the 1990 Open at St. Andrews, was also appalled.

“If you’ve traveled halfway around the world for your bucket list to St Andrews, would you rather leave with a bit of historic dirt on your shoes or some leftover cement mix?” He asked. Perhaps, he mused, the approach was a “strategically placed sundial (for slow play)”.

St. Andrews officials said Monday the turf would be restored “in the coming days.” Even though the internet never seems to forget, there’s plenty of time to recover between now and the next Open at St. Andrews. This year’s tournament will take place at Royal Liverpool, 2024’s festivities will take place at Royal Troon and 2025 will see the competition return to Royal Portrush.

The R&A, which organizes the Open, has not announced its plans for other years.

nytimes sport

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button