Market Harborough Golf Club's chairman describes the 'soul-destroying' moment when about 50 horses ran across the course, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage
The chairman of Market Harborough Golf Club said the devastating damage caused by horses running across the course is a massive blow to them.
As we reported last night, up to 50 horses ran across the course, causing damage running into thousands of pounds.
Dozens of ponies careered around the greens and fairways at the historic 121-year-old club on the Great Oxendon road after escaping out of a neighbouring field.
The incident happened early on Sunday (Dec 29) and came after a string of incursions over the last fortnight.
Stunned chairman Steve Winder told the Harborough Mail: “This is a massive blow.
“We’re a small club and we’re struggling for finance so this couldn’t have come at a worse time.”
He added: “We will survive as long as this stops but we’ve taken a major hit in our finances.
“It’s soul-destroying, especially for our brilliant greenkeepers, to see the havoc that’s been wreaked.”
A member for 15 years, Steve said the latest shattering setback happened at the weekend after Christmas.
“I dashed along to the club with our five greenkeepers and about 10-15 volunteers at 7am on Sunday.
“We were trying to corral and chase up to about 50 excited horses charging about off the course and back into their field,” said Steve, of Wigston.
“They’ve come through time and again in the last 10 days.
“They charge through a hedge chasing our sweet, juicy green grass.
“It must be one big adventure for the whole herd and I can see why they love it.
“But it’s a huge problem for us because these ponies must weight at least half a ton each.
“And they inflict serious damage digging up the greens and trampling all over our fairways.”
The club stalwart said it will take months to restore the highly-rated course to its former pristine glory.
“It’s quiet here at the moment in the middle of winter.
“But it will soon get really busy when our golf season starts in March,” said Steve.
“So it will be all hands on deck as we battle to repair the damage as quickly as possible.
“We’ve got a specialist contractor coming in next week to repair the greens and knit the grass together.
“We’re also putting up electric fencing to try to deter the horses.
“Volunteers will work on the fairways with pitchforks to pull the battered grass back up.
“We’ve reported this to the police but they don’t want to know unless the horses are on the road.
“So we’re on our own.
“We’ve got about 550 members and were set up in 1898, some 121 years ago.
“We’re a fantastic club but we can’t carry on if this becomes a persistent problem.
“We’ve no idea where these horses come from.
“But I would appeal to their owners to take responsibility for their animals and make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“We’re all neighbours so let’s live together and work together for everyone’s sake.”
Harborough MP Neil O’Brien told the Mail: “This is terrible for the golf club.
“Flygrazing and irresponsible grazing are totally unacceptable.
“The owners would think twice if the law was changed so they lost their horses if they didn’t keep them under proper control.”