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On Second Thought, St. Andrews Steps Back From Remodel by Swilcan Bridge


St. Andrews Links — the stately sporting refuge in Scotland that has outlasted major champions, monarchs and well-to-do duffers — caved Monday and abandoned plans for a patio-like surface by the Swilcan Bridge.

Few locales in golf invite quite so many pilgrimages because the stone bridge, which crosses a burn on the Old Course’s 18th hole and is the centerpiece of photographs that surface in Scottish pubs, man-caves throughout suburban America and Tiger Woods’s office in Florida. So, perhaps it was predictable that even some well-intentioned remodeling of the realm around it, worn down by the footwear of many 1000’s of players and visitors, would result in fury, confusion and greater than a couple of memes.

Golf, you may have heard, is just not at all times keen on change, and the resulting kerfuffle will amount to a transient, if breathtakingly effective, chapter within the very long history — like, possibly greater than 700 years — of a 30-foot bridge. The entire spat, in fact, might have been avoided had the bridge stuck to its long-ago mission of catering to livestock.

But since that didn’t occur and since many individuals cannot mimic Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus or Woods on their scorecards, they merely congregate on the bridge, wave like a British Open champion, memorialize the moment for Facebook or Instagram and march on their way, leaving tattered turf behind.

The concept set off the scorn, course officials said over the weekend, was to duplicate a past stone pathway and guard against repeated bouts of “disrepair” after a handful of other strategies, including artificial turf, proved insufficient. They added that they may “categorically state that no works have been undertaken to the bridge itself.”

As if that will calm down, say, the denizens of Twitter. By Monday night, the Old Course was in search of one other solution, recent, old or no less than not that one.

“The stonework on the approach and exit of the bridge was identified as one possible long run solution,” the course’s administrators said in an announcement that conceded that “while this installation would have provided some protection, on this instance we consider we’re unable to create a glance which is in step with its iconic setting and have taken the choice to remove it.”

The statement noted “feedback from many partners and stakeholders in addition to the golfing public,” which was a most proper approach to characterize social media-fueled disdain and mockery.

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

“Should you’ve travelled halfway around the globe on your bucket list round at St Andrews, would you fairly leave with a little bit of historic dirt in your shoes or a couple of cement mix scraps?” he asked. Perhaps, he mused, the approach was a “strategically placed sundial (for slow play).”

St. Andrews officials said Monday that turf can be restored “in the approaching days.” Despite the fact that the web never seems to forget, there’s loads of time for recovery between now and the subsequent Open at St. Andrews. This 12 months’s tournament shall be at Royal Liverpool, the 2024 festivities shall be 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.

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