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St Andrews Old Course Swilken Bridge Paving Removed in Embarrassing U-turn.

Renovation work around the historic bridge where paving was installed has been removed following heavy criticism.

The Swilken Bridge represents the pinnacle of golf. The bridge on the Old Course spans between the first and eighteenth fairways and has come to be a powerful image in the game.

Traditionally, legends of the sport walk over the bridge, after teeing off on the 18th hole, to bid farewell to the sport in the Open Champions which is held at the Old Course every five years.

The St Andrews Links Trust manages the famous golf course and, in a statement, revealed the turfed approach area to the bridge “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 attraction of the Swilken Bridge means that throughout the year means the grass leading up to the bridge needs to be frequently maintained and often appears, understandably, not up to the standard of the rest of the course.

To prevent the bridge from being closed and inaccessible throughout some periods of the year, there have previously been numerous solutions attempted before this paving.

These include installing “hybrid and synthetic turf”, as well as regularly replacing and reseeding the natural turf, but the Trust revealed none had proven to be successful “in adequately protecting the area from the significant wear and tear".

But the Trust’s solution was a round, paved area connected to the bridge, and this was not welcomed by many. It was heavily criticised after pictures of the renovation works appeared online and on social media over the weekend.

Critics of the paving include Sir Nick Faldo, six-time major winner, who tweeted "If you've travelled halfway around the world for your bucket list round at St Andrews, would you rather leave with a bit of historic dirt on your shoes or a few cement mix scraps?".

Former Scottish golfer and current commentator Ken Brown was also critical, mocking the installation after likening the paving to a patio tweeting, "The Swilken Bridge now serving food. A table for Fore please".

Following much criticism, on Monday the Trust announced that the paving stones would be removed, and the area would instead be “reinstated with turf”.

In a statement they announced they had “taken on feedback from many partners and stakeholders as well as the golfing public” and that they had decided to "explore alternative options for a permanent solution" with partners, including Fife council.

The St Andrews Links Trust has been forced into a humiliating U-turn and the Trust have certainly acted quickly and today the paving stones have all been removed and the area has been sealed off.

Time will tell as to what, if any solutions can be found but paving, certainly, will never be welcomed again, the Trust are undoubtedly aware of that.

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