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Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« on: May 20, 2011, 04:47:25 PM »
Apologies for starting a thread which isn't quite about golf course architecture as such but more about how courses are dressed up. I had the great pleasure of playing North Berwick last weekend in the company of Tony Muldoon, FBD and FBD's lovely wife, all of which was most enjoyable.

Not having played there for a few years I was surprised and slightly saddened however to see the introduction of several "Swilcan" bridges which had replaced much simpler bridges. As stellar a course as North Berwick is I can't help thinking this type of ornamentation cheapens it. Not as bad as a flower bed on the side of a tee to be sure, but still a detraction. To me, links courses (maybe any other course as well ?) should be about good firm turf with a certain scruffyness round the edges. Greens blending in with green surrounds, surrounds with fairways which in turn seem to evolve into longer grass and then eventually bundi. A lack of demarcation lines and an embrace with nature and all that. Somehow an over elaborate replica bridge just doesn't quite fit.

In fairness to NB their bridges isn't nearly as bad or as obvious as the one at Cullen which stands out like a beacon. A real howler. I've also noticed this type of ornamentation on other courses. Is there some company out there advertising Swilcan Bridges for sale, and if so how can I put them out of business ? Or am I just being a grump ?  :-\

Niall

Steve_ Shaffer

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2011, 05:13:15 PM »
Here's just one of many companies I found after googling "golf course bridges"

http://www.naturebridges.com/gallery_new/golf_cart.php

Here's another:

http://transpanbridges.com/pages/Ped&GolfCourses.html
« Last Edit: May 20, 2011, 05:15:38 PM by Steve_ Shaffer »
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Simon Holt

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2011, 05:41:06 PM »
Niall,

Hope you are well- we must get a game once my shoulder is back in play.

Sorry to shoot you down in flames here but I am going to jump to the defense of a wonderful man that paid for said bridges at North Berwick.  Good old Health and Safety proclaimed that our bridges were too dangerous to stay the way they were.  I cant think of anyone who has fallen off one let alone suffered injury but that is the world we live in.

Mr. Imlay has been a huge supporter of Scottish golf and supports amongst other things the Bobby Jones Scholarship at St. Andrews University, many golf charity foundations and is an all round good egg.  A true Atlanta gentleman Mr. Imlay has been a member at North Berwick for longer than I have been alive.  I caddied for him as a kid, then as a student I caddied for him in the RnA meetings in St. Andrews.  For his 70th birthday the caddies at North Berwick chipped together and bought him a quaich.  It was presented to him in a very simple ceremony that he knew nothing about immediately after a round at the West.  He was moved to tears.  A great man; believe me, the caddies don't do that for everyone.

When he heard that we needed to build some more substantial bridges he said he would pay for them.  He had them designed and while yes, they are made of stone, I am pretty sure he did not intend them to be Swilcan replicas.  We already had 2 stone bridges on the course and once the new ones are weathered in a bit I am sure they will be in keeping with those.  The Swilcan is rounded, ours have a more triangular shape.  It could be easily argued that all stone bridges on a golf course are inspired by the Swilcan- in this case I would say give the guy a break; there are only so many styles of bridge out there!

99% of the members I have spoken to like them.  In a town like ours, for that many people to like something is unheard of.  Unless it is Belhaven Best.  If they were done for purely aesthetic reasons I would be completely on your side!

Cheers,

S
2011 highlights- Royal Aberdeen, Loch Lomond, Moray Old, NGLA (always a pleasure), Muirfield Village, Saucon Valley, watching the new holes coming along at The Renaissance Club.

Adrian_Stiff

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2011, 06:03:42 PM »
Niall -consider yourself a minor head 99% like them, sad thing I suspect Simon is 100% right.
PS ... I am a minor head too, i expect Simon is too.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
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Melvyn Morrow

Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2011, 06:09:39 PM »
Template Bridges courtesy of Health and Safety, now that a new concept or is it? Perhaps itís just another group trying to put their interpretations of the guidelines into practice.

Now if Health & Safety used some basic common sense then I might agree with many of their aims but alas its their total lacking in believing thatís we humans have to learn our lessons in our own way and their insistence that they know better so try to wrap the world in padding

In my youth I have walked over the Swilken Bridge and waded in the burn collecting the odd golf ball in my progress to the West Sands. Soon we will have cages over the bridges because golfers canít hear any warning shouts because they will be reading their electronic gadgets, The matter will be taken out of our hands, not by removing the aids but adding more protection on to the bridges, killing the whole natural scene Ė But then, by then who will care, who will be free spirited enough to fight, so Template Bridges may well be here to stay.

Nevertheless I do see Niall point and am persuade that he may well have a case, but like many on here say you canít fight progress Ė well not if you are dead above the neck, which I am pleased to say I am not. Donít forget we stopped that bridge at North Inch and upset the council in the process screwing up their plans for their £2.5 million bridge.

Its not over until the Fat Lady falls into the burn

Melvyn


PS Niall, Its called The Swilken Bridge not the Swilcan(may find that one on the Castle Course - perhaps)
« Last Edit: May 20, 2011, 06:13:56 PM by Melvyn Hunter Morrow »

Marty Bonnar

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2011, 06:48:36 PM »
Niall,
bloody marvellous day. North Berwick enchants me ever more with every visit. East Lothian, in fact, gives me much warmness in unmentionable places (except for Craigielaw, of COURSE!).
I'd respectfully disagree with your premise. No-one loves rustic golf course detailing more than I. In fact, there's a fence on a certain monterey peninsula golf course which I find to be the very epitome of the genre.
I thought that while they certainly looked very NEW, they would weather down quite nicely in the 'interesting' weather of our eastern seaboard. They'll be fine! In a hundred years time, folk will be having their vacation 3d webimages saved to the global blogospherical cognisance. That's Progress, Buddy!
v best,
F.
The White River runs dark through the heart of the Town,
Washed the people coal-black from the hole in the ground.

Mac Plumart

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2011, 07:56:31 PM »
Give the bridges a little time to "weather" appropriately and they will be perfect.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Bill_McBride

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2011, 11:58:29 PM »
Melvyn, all is forgiven:

"Its not over until the Fat Lady falls into the burn"

Love,

Uncle Bill

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2011, 04:56:34 AM »
Simon

Many thanks for your post, and for putting me in my place so nicely ! I suspected the reason was health & safety, and wasn't really having a pop at either North Berwick or indeed the kind benefactor who paid for the bridges. As Mac says, and as Tony said to me when we were playing, they will eventually weather and become part of the landscape.

That said, the one at Cullen is still a real howler.

Niall

Tiger_Bernhardt

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2011, 11:58:53 PM »
A GCA first but hopefully not a last.

James Boon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2011, 05:59:46 AM »
Niall,

I've only one round at NB a couple of years ago and don't remember the bridges. So they either werent there at the time or I didn't think them an eyesore. More likely I was having too much fun playing Redan, The Pit, Perfection and chums for the first time...  ;)

Sorry to shoot you down in flames here but I am going to jump to the defense of a wonderful man that paid for said bridges at North Berwick.  Good old Health and Safety proclaimed that our bridges were too dangerous to stay the way they were.  I cant think of anyone who has fallen off one let alone suffered injury but that is the world we live in.

Simon,

Did H&S really state that?

I've had plenty of dealings with the Health & Safety Executive in relation to safety on building sites. I've often quizzed them on typical newspaper stories of H&S gone mad and they point out its usually not them. What is more likely the case is that someone has decided that if something happens then they could get sued so they take measures to avoid this and H&S is the coverall phrase? It seems to me its not H&S gone mad, but fear of litigation?

Having said that, its great that golf has such benefactors as those that paid for the bridges. I can't wait to get back and enjoy NB, Swilken'esque bridges not withstanding   ::)

Cheers,

James
2023 Highlights: Hollinwell (Notts), Brora, Aberdovey, Royal St Davids, Woodhall Spa, Broadstone, Parkstone, Cleeve, Painswick, Minchinhampton, Hoylake

"It celebrates the unadulterated pleasure of being in a dialogue with nature while knocking a ball round on foot." Richard Pennell

Tony_Muldoon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2011, 07:05:41 AM »


Some well measured responses here.


Niall's original point is there is an epidemic of copycat bridges.  Iíve seen this on many courses but specifically Fulwell GC celebrated their centenary with a rich member paying for their own Swilcan Bridge.


Yesterday I looked more closely at the pair on Deal's first and they follow a similar shape but until I looked closely I hadn't t noticed they walls are more "pargeted (correct term?)" concrete than stone.  I would say that most low stone bridge in scale with walking golfers would fit the following  description, similar but not a faithful copy. 


Simon thanks for sharing the story but...I can't help thinking that such a special course deserves something more locally themed.

e.g. the walls that crisscross the course seem to be more of the dry stone walling type than the stone and mortar construction used in the new bridges.  Or what about the wonderful red sandstone that the local buildings consist of?  Were either of these considered?  Those bridges will be there for a long time.

( I have no photos to back this up, it's purely from memory so feel free to point out errors. Particularly as I can't recall what they replaced.)


If the authorities do want to take away the new patina, it can easily be helped by painting them with a natural yogurt milk mix.  This encourages litchens to grow and dirt to stick!

Anyway, Niall and Marty letís have many more games there.

Melvyn are you sure?

http://www.saint-andrews.co.uk/Tour/swilcan.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swilcan_Bridge 
« Last Edit: May 22, 2011, 07:12:43 AM by Tony_Muldoon »
Let's make GCA grate again!

Melvyn Morrow

Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2011, 07:40:02 AM »
Oh, ye of little faith





Why would I think I know the name of this little bridge, after all it has sweet FA to do with my family  - seen old photos against new - you could see more of the old bridge than you do today - don't worry have photos to prove it.

Melvyn

PS As for Wikipedia - they have things wrong about Old Tom, so use it as a guide only, its not totally reliable.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2011, 07:45:58 AM by Melvyn Hunter Morrow »

Simon Holt

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2011, 08:05:47 AM »
James and Tony,

Please see below; taken from the club website news section.

 
 
Footbridges
11 January, 2010

Late last year the Club was approached by a member with an offer to fund the construction of a stone footbridge on the West Links. The Club was of course delighted to accept such a generous offer, even more so when further discussion with our benefactor resulted in a proposal to replace four of the existing timber crossings with constuctions in stone.

The timing of this could not have been better for us as a recent Health & Safety inspection has highlighted the existing flat structures as a potential hazard and the need for handrails to be fitted to them.

Following discussion with our Architect and ELC, a single basic design has been worked up for all of the bridges and an Application for Planning Permission has been submitted today. The "Imlay" bridges will be an arched style, constructed in natural stone, crossing the waterways on the 3rd, 7th & 16th holes. It is hoped that the first bridge will be constructed before the height of the season with the remainder completed during the Autumn months.

This generous donation is an exciting and very welcome development with the bridges becoming a lasting feature of the golf course that will add to the enjoyment of members and visitors alike.


I hadnít read this before so I am pretty pleased my version of events is not too far off the truth.  It shows the rumour mill had got this one correct!

I spoke to Mr. Imlay yesterday.  In terms of local stone, it is the same stone used to build the house he now owns that lines the 7th fairway.  That house is over 100 years old so it would seem the materials are in keeping with the area, just perhaps not with the walls on the course itself.

Before we just had low profile, completely flat wooden planks essentially.  These were covered with green Astroturf- yuck!  I think they look nice and will weather in well.  I am much more concerned with drainage issues on the 8th and 9th!!!

S

 
 
2011 highlights- Royal Aberdeen, Loch Lomond, Moray Old, NGLA (always a pleasure), Muirfield Village, Saucon Valley, watching the new holes coming along at The Renaissance Club.

Ronald Montesano

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2011, 08:20:49 AM »
Never thought the day would come when I would confess that Melvyn gave me a boner...

and now I know what a quaich is...and that I would die for a Belhaven Best right about now.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2011, 08:40:44 AM by Ronald Tricks O'Hooligan Montesano »
Coming in 2024
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~Maybe some more!!

Tim Nugent

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2011, 08:35:53 AM »
I say if your going to build something, why not build to last.  Those stone Roman bridges still dot the landscape.  All too often, there just isn't the money to do it right the first time (and you end up with crap - like rickety wooden crossing covered with - holding my nose here - ASTROTURF!!!).  Amazing how there always seems to be the money to do it right the second time.
Niall, if all you have to complain about is some stone bridges, life must be good! But then, itīs not like thereīs much to bother one at NB ;D
Coasting is a downhill process

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Swilcan Bridge Epidemic
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2011, 09:18:11 AM »
Tim

Not really complaining, merely commenting  ;)

Melvyn,

Thanks for the spelling lesson, as you know where I come from English is often a second language ! BTW, on some of the old ordnance survey maps the Swilken bridge is actually the road bridge to the side of the fairway and not the one on the fairway that everyone stops to get their photo taken on. Another bit of useless info from the scrapbook.

Tony

Lets definitely have another game at NB, if only to see how the bridges have weathered  :)

Niall

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