Future of Golf Clubs Threatened by Flooding And Vandalism
All golf clubs face challenges - our recent survey highlighted how many of you are members of courses that have regularly been forced to close because of adverse weather.
It is beyond dispute that climate change has brought with it increased rainfall which has led to higher river levels and has given many clubs a serious headache.
But spare a thought for the members at Carholme Golf Club, a course near Lincoln which has been under water since Storm Babet swept through the country in October.
The Golf Business reports that volunteers have been moving thousands of sandbags to help protect the course, which faces a £500,000 flood bill.
Five holes remain under water to depths of up to 12 feet. It puts things in perspective for those of us who complain about boggy fairways.
The volunteers are using 2,800 sandbags to plug the breach after getting permission from the Environment Agency to carry out emergency repairs.
Nick Smith, a member at Carholme, described the course as being “like a boating lake”.
“It’s terrible, it’s the worst I’ve seen,” he said. “Luckily they’re managing to get nine holes open, hopefully soon it might be 15, but we’re out supporting the club.”
The club’s honorary treasurer Andy Spring said that they were given approval just before Christmas, then the arrival of Storm Henk in early January made matters worse with more of the course being covered in water.
Spring said the cost of the damage could be up to £500,000 depending on the state of the grass after the water has been pumped away.
He described the volunteer efforts as “just amazing”.
“I can’t thank them enough, it’s fantastic,” he said. “Some of the guys have been members for more than 50 years, they care deeply about this place.”
And it is not just Mother Nature that golf clubs have to compete with. A golf club in Leeds has said it may be forced to close due to repeated vandalism. Gotts Park Golf Club has repeatedly seen people riding quad bikes across its green, causing untold and repeated damage.
Karon Bickers, a volunteer board member, said it was simply not financially viable to keep making repairs.
“If this was to continue I’m 100 percent confident we would not be able to go on, because we just would not have the money to be able to sort it out. If the club goes this fantastic green area will just become overgrown, a no man’s land.
Bickers said members had put their “heart and soul” into trying to keep the club going and to see the recent damage was “soul destroying, heartbreaking.”
“We all work hard and put our own time and effort in,” she said. “We’re struggling hand-to-mouth as it is, without having to deal with this.”
Volunteers took over the running of the 90-year-old club about six years ago, when one of the plans the council had was “to turn the land into a wildflower meadow”, Bickers said.
At that time the club employed about seven staff to maintain the greens but they were now looked after by two people, with the club run on a “shoestring” budget, she added.
When you hear stories such as these it is impossible not to feel a huge amount of sympathy for the clubs involved, and their members. Going forward, it is difficult to see how these two courses can survive.
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