It is the sight of many a memorable Open Championship moment, from a dancing Sam Snead to Tom Watson’s adoring kiss — and a teary Jack Nicklaus calling time on his legendary professional career.
Now, however, St Andrews has been forced to defend itself after a stone circle appeared on either side of the historic Swilcan Bridge, drawing criticism on social media.
Situated on the 18th hole of the famous Old Course, the bridge has always been an understated monument, but has now been dressed up with stonework that left plenty of golf enthusiasts unimpressed.
The St Andrews Links Trust sought to allay concerns with a statement, which said: “We would like to address some concerns that have been raised regarding works that are currently underway on the approach area to the Swilcan Bridge. For the avoidance of any doubt, we can categorically state that no works have been undertaken to the bridge itself.
“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.”
The Trust went on to explain that this large volume of foot traffic has given rise to other solutions in the past, such as artificial turf or regularly replacing the natural turf, but with limited success.
It continued: “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 continue to visit the site year round.”