The attempt to protect the area close to the iconic structure on the 18th hole on the Old Course has also been ridiculed by Faldo’s former Ryder Cup team-mate, Ken Brown.
Work has been carried out by St Andrews Links Trust, which is responsible for maintaining the course, at either side of the historic bridge to create what resembles a patio-style area. Widespread criticism of the visual change on social media included Faldo, who landed the second of his three Open wins by five shots at the Fife venue in 1980, giving it a big thumbs down.
In a post on Twitter, the Englishman wrote: “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?”
Photographs posted on social media have included garden furniture and a hot tub being deemed as more appropriate for such an area, with Brown among those to poke fun at the work. “The Swilcan Bridge now serving food. A table for Fore please. Serving BBQ meals. Book early,” he commented in one post while he replied to someone having photoshopped an image of The Flintstones on a photograph of the stonework by writing: “Yabba Dabba Doo. Next Fred and Barney off to crazy pave the entrance to the Taj Mahal ..”
Not everyone, though, sees it as a problem. Broadcaster and keen golfer Dan Walker said on Twitter: “Dear fellow golfers, we are constantly in a battle to prove that the sport we love is fun and brilliant rather than being a tad dull & stuck in the past. Spending an entire weekend moaning about a new patio isn’t helping. Crack on.”
Also commenting on social media, Golf Monthly editor Mike Harris said: “My goodness. The hot air over the work on the Swilcan Bridge. Give your heads a wobble. If you're lucky enough to play the OC just step on to the bridge, have your pic taken & stride on up the 18th knowing you're privileged to walk in the footsteps of Old Tom, Jack & Tiger et al.”
A statement issued by St Andrews Links Trust explained why the work had been undertaken. It read: "For the avoidance of 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 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," added the St Andrews Links Trust spokesperson. "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 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 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."