THE easing of lockdown restrictions has caused mayhem at Werneth Low Golf Club where thousands of pounds of damage has been caused.
Errant visitors to the country park in Hyde have demolished dry stone walling to build barbecues, kicked down a gate and ruined turf on a tee through a portable barbecue.Members of the public have been straying from a public footpath which runs alongside the 16th hole.
And Jamie Tipper, director of golf and club professional, reported members have been subjected to abuse when they have confronted the trespassers.
He claims four have quit the club, citing the aggravation as their factor for leaving.
And Jamie believes it is only a matter of time there is an accident if members of the public continue to go where they are forbidden.
“You have golf balls flying through the air at more than 200 miles per hour and with the potential to kill somebody,” he explained.
“I don’t know if the public are aware of that. I want to protect the public and our members as it is hard to imagine how they would feel if they killed somebody.”
Jamie added they have previously had issues, but nothing on this scale.
He said: “There was no golf played for almost two months and the public were not used to seeing anybody on the course.
“Now golfers are back in their herds, it has caused massive problems with members sworn at and abused when they have politely told people they are trespassing.
“The majority of the public are fine, but there is a small number who think they are entitled to go wherever they want on the course.”
Jamie detailed the problems:
• Dry stone walls dismantled to build
• A public access gate to the course kicked
• Picnics on the greens
• A portable barbecue on a tee scorching the
• Sunbathing on the fairways
• Allowing remotely controlled cars run over
• Dogs stealing golf balls after being let off
• The public failing to adhere to social
distancing.He added: “The public are entitled to use the footpath alongside the 16th hole, but they are trespassing when they move off it.
“When our members politely tell them, they are receiving some serious abuse.
“When members are on the 16th hole, they are instructed not to hit the ball when anybody is using the footpath, something they abide to.”
Jamie fears somebody will get hurt, either by a ball or following an assault.
He said: “Some members have come off the course irate saying they came close to whacking the person who had sworn at them.
“Four members have left saying they were no longer enjoying their golf because of the problems and they were scared of killing somebody.”
That amounts to a loss of income of more than £2,500 in membership.
On top of that, the club will have to repair the damage which will run into thousands of pounds.
Members have suggested setting up an JustGiving page to cover the cost.
Jamie added more warnings signs are needed to be put up by the Hyde War Memorial Trust which leases 19 acres of its land to the golf club.
However, he pointed out signs had previously been vandalised, ripped down and thrown into the field or spray painted.
Frank Gradwell, chair of the Hyde War Memorial Trust, described the vandalism and trespassing on the golf course as becoming “unimaginable”.
“Since Covid-19 fell out of the sky, the relationship between golfers and the public has become zero,” he said.
“When people step outside, they have a legal right to exercise. Once they start demolishing walls and kicking down gates, that is criminal damage.”
He also reiterated the need for walkers to stick to the public footpath as somebody could be seriously injured or killed if struck by a ball.
Frank added as the landowner, the trust will continue to work alongside the golf club to resolve the issues.