• Volunteers have headed down to the clubs in their droves
• All look to become operational again as soon as possible
BALLATER GC | DEESIDE GC | PAUL LAWRIE GOLF CENTRE
Three North East golf facilities have been overwhelmed by a real sense of community spirit as they begin to recover following the devastating floods which struck in the closing days of 2015.
Deeside, Ballater and the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre were among a host of courses in the region that have been severely affected by the floods, which carried on into the opening days of January after December was proclaimed the wettest month, both in Scotland and in the UK, since records began in 1910.
Images detailing the extent of the damage have been there for all to see on social media over the past two weeks, with the scale of the wreckage leaving many looking on from afar wondering ‘Where do you start?’
But all three clubs are eager to become operational again as soon as possible and have been boosted by the help of an army of volunteers, some of whom whose homes have been badly affected as well.
Ballater Golf Club in pics
“Our clean-up operation started yesterday and we had a squad of around 20 members down clearing up the debris,” said Colin Smith, managing secretary at Ballater, who described the floodwater ‘sweeping through the course like a sea’ as it uprooted trees and left neighbouring Ballater Caravan Park totally devastated.
“A lot of the guys that are coming down to help have actually had their houses flooded too and I think that says a lot. There’s a great community spirit in Ballater at the minute. Everybody is helping each other out and I think that’s reflected in the whole of the North East.”
Those thoughts are echoed further down the river at Deeside, where all 27 holes were submerged with the fear now that the rain will give way to snow and ice to further disrupt the recovery work that so desperately needs carried out.
Deeside Golf Club in pics
“A huge concern to our greenkeeping team is that we might freeze over the coming days, while there’s a possibility that the sand, clay and silt on our course may be contaminated,” said club manager Debbie Pern. “However, we’re aware that we’re a golf course and our thoughts are with the Aberdeenshire residents that have lost their houses and possessions.
“The reaction from our members has been very supportive and they all want the golf course to be open again just as much as we do at the club. We’ve had 15-20 additional people out on the course helping staff and there’s been such a great morale and we’re all working together to try and make things happen.”
Across the river at the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre, which has been closed since December 30, director of golf Craig Dempster hailed the ‘fantastic’ staff and volunteers who have been helping out at the centre after the bottom floor of the building was damaged, while repair work also needs to be carried on the driving range.
Paul Lawrie Golf Centre in pics
“I’ve stayed in this area a long time and I’ve never seen the water levels as high and that’s been echoed by people who have been here longer than me too,” said Craig, who said the water was around 15ft deep in some places. “Like Deeside, we’ve got quite a lot of silt in places so we’ve been getting that off the tee boxes and greens and basically trying to do as much as we can on a daily basis so we can become operational again.
“The support that we’ve received from volunteers, our own staff who have come in on their time off, pros who are supported by the Foundation and also on social media has been absolutely fantastic and very much appreciated.”
Weather permitting, Ballater hopes to be fully operational again by the end of March, while Deeside and the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre are far more reluctant to be put on a timescale, but are confident that their facilities will return to the high standards that were in place before the floods arrived.
Overlooking Deeside and PLGC on January 9. Credit: @iainlandsman.
“We can’t really put a timescale on it as it’s all weather dependent but I’d certainly say at least April time,” said Debbie Pern. “We’ll do as much as we can with the manpower that we have as we can’t get any machinery onto the course at the moment because it’s so wet under foot. However, I’m quite sure that our golf course will recover and come the summer time it’ll be tip top again.”
And Craig Dempster is in no doubt that the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre can be restored to the facility that was awarded a five-star Visit Scotland activity centre in May last year.
“The directors of the business are fully committed to getting everything back on its feet as quickly as possible,” he said. “We’re going to assess it on a day-by-day basis but we’ve made some fantastic progress so far thanks to the staff and volunteers and we’re hoping to get some of the facilities, such as the coffee shop and golf shop, open fairly soon.”
The North East floods :: Were you affected?
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