Update: St. Andrews Links Trust has released a statement about the bridge additions, noting that the work was being done to address significant wear on the turf area on each side of the bridge, which is caused by foot traffic. Here is the full statement:
"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 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 artificial turf and the regular replacement, reseed and support of natural turf, but none have proven to be successful in adequately protecting the area from the significant wear and tear.
"Historically the bridge has previously seen a stone pathway leading onto it and 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 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 recognize 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."
Original story: The Swilcan Bridge has apparently undergone a makeover.
Images posted Saturday by the popular Twitter follow U.K. Golf Guy show what appears to be patio-like stone additions on each side of the iconic Old Course bridge, areas that were previously covered by grass.
“They appear to have built a garden patio next to the Swilken Bridge!” the post read, followed by another photo with the caption, “It’s not quite as bad from other angles. That area always got quite worn so this is the solution I guess.”
GolfChannel.com has reached out to St. Andrews Links for comment and more details, though has yet to hear back.
For the time being, though, Twitter has mostly not reacted kindly to the changes to a landmark that is believed to be as many as 800 years old and has served as the perfect photo spot for many of the game’s greats to wave goodbye in their final Opens at St. Andrews.
“That’s bloody awful,” said one user.
“Dirt path would have looked better than that,” added another.
And another: “Will be sure to bring my BBQ or get a Big Green Egg for next round.”
But as one person noted, “I'm sure I read somewhere that this is a restoration to how the bridge was previously before golf. Might be making that up but pretty sure I[‘ve] seen it.”
Perhaps. Though even the few images available online of Old Tom Morris and Co. on the bridge don’t show the circular ends.
Guess we will have to wait for clarity.