A stroll across the replica Swilcan Bridge is a must-do activity at the World Golf Hall of Fame. (Photo courtesy World Golf Hall of Fame)
Swilcan Bridge replica a true World Golf Hall of Fame highlight
If you can't make it to St. Andrews, don't worry. You can make your own Swilcan Bridge memory at the life-sized replica at the World Golf Hall of Fame.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents
His left foot resting on the ridge of the old stone bridge, his right arm raised to acknowledge the cheers of the crowd, Jack Nicklaus bid farewell to the Open Championship in 2005.
The next day, color prints of Nicklaus waving good-bye on the Swilcan Bridge could be purchased for 10 pounds sterling in a photography shop about a 9-iron away from St. Andrews. The sales were brisk, too.
Countless other less iconic moments have been captured by the many tourists who flock to this sleepy university town to play the most famous course in the world. But if you can’t get to Scotland, there is an alternative.
Just head to the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla. On the second floor of the interactive museum is a life-size stone replica of the Swilcan Bridge -- complete with a floor-to-ceiling photograph of the Royal & Ancient clubhouse and Hamilton Hall in the background.
“Walking across that bridge you are putting history right into your heart,” Gary Player will tell you as you listen to the guided tour.
Photographs are encouraged -- and even facilitated -- by the volunteers stationed there who estimate that at least 90 percent of the people who tour the World Golf Hall of Fame take advantage of the opportunity.
One of those volunteers, George Scheidker, had a once-in-a-lifetime experience about a year ago. He listened closely as a small group studied the exhibit and an elderly woman with a thick brogue held court.
“She was explaining to the group what each building in the background was, Scheidker said. “I was really picking up some interesting information.”
Scheidker asked the woman whether she was from St. Andrews, which she was. So he wondered whether the World Golf Hall of Fame’s replica did the original, built more than 700 years ago, justice.
“She responded that yes, it did,” Scheidker said. “She then went on to explain that her husband had passed away several months earlier and that he had been a stonemason and had maintained the original bridge for over 30 years. I thought that was very special.”
So is the opportunity to see the Swilcan Bridge -- in St. Andrews or at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine.