Brave golfers stay on course

The natural water hazards on Lee-on-the-Solent's practice ground. Picture: James Ablett
The natural water hazards on Lee-on-the-Solent's practice ground. Picture: James Ablett
Harry Ellis. Picture: PA Images

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clubs are being forced to dig deep to fight an ongoing battle with the elements after the latest bout of dreadful weather.

While some golfers are prepared to don their waterproofs and dig out their umbrellas when the rain strikes, some have even not been able to enjoy that luxury with their courses closed because of the torrential downpours.

Many clubs in the region have been affected by closures – with either certain holes or the entire course off limits because of the waterlogged conditions.

Lee-on-the-Solent’s practice ground even boasted some new natural water hazards.

But professionals have outlined the efforts that continue to get members and visitors out on their courses as they try to keep the revenue coming through the tills.

Terry Healy at Portsmouth Golf Centre said: ‘We haven’t been closed too much. We have maybe lost two or three days.

‘We’ve been on restricted holes but we have had 13 holes open a lot.

‘We’ve had six holes open most of the time but we haven’t had the full 18 holes open for more than three or four days since Christmas.

‘Unless we get heavy rain, we should have it open for 18 holes by the end of the week.

‘At least golfers have been able to get out and play.

‘We reduce green fees when we have to close some of the holes and people think that’s fair.

‘We’ve got the driving range to help people keep their game up together and stay under cover.

‘But most want to actually get out and play and we want to make that happen.’

At Waterlooville Golf Club, significant investment in recent years has helped them cope with the spate of bad weather.

Club professional John Hay said: ‘The greenkeeper was telling me the other day that we have had 300mm of rain since December 9.

‘It’s about 12 inches of rain and it’s quite a lot to have to cope with.

‘But we’ve done a lot of work on the drainage.

‘We spent about £500,000 on drainage a few years ago and it has made a huge difference to the course.

‘It’s a good thing we did that at the time.

‘We’ve also done some drainage work on a couple of the greens over the winter.

‘But the course recovers very quickly and we want our members out there playing as much as possible.

‘Nobody ever wants to close the course unless we absolutely have to do it.

‘We’ve probably been shut for five days but that’s when it’s been torrential rain and nobody has played anyway.’

At Cams Hall, one of the newer courses in the region, good drainage has always remained one of its key assets.

Professional Sam Pleshette said: ‘We’ve only closed one day – Christmas Eve.

‘Other than that, we’ve managed to stay open, even though it’s been pretty wet.

‘A lot of the time it’s been very, very wet but you can still get a ball round.

‘It’s been playable but it’s always drained pretty well here so we don’t suffer as much as others.

‘We don’t get quite as many coming to play when the weather is bad but we still get the hardy souls. You can’t put them off.’