Historic club to be saved by giant net18th November, 2013 by Tania Longmire
One of the most prominent golf clubs in the UK is set to be saved by a giant net. The club feared it would have to be closed down because balls might hit nearby houses – that haven’t actually been built yet.
Exeter Golf and Country Club was built in 1929 and recently a housing developer was granted planning permission to build 200 new homes in very close proximity to the course.
Both the developer and the golf club then expressed concern that flying golf balls would pose a threat to the new buildings and their residents, and they jointly commissioned a golf architect to investigate the issue.
He concluded that the proposed houses were too close to the boundary, and this led to insurers saying that they will not indemnify the club against claims for injury or damage.
The club therefore applied to build a 30 metre high protective screen, but the plans were opposed by agents for the housing developer and the council had indicated to the club that it was likely to refuse permission.
“Safety netting up to 30 metres high is needed to preserve the safety and playability of the course. Without it, or with netting of a lesser height, any insurance claim could be invalidated in the event of an incident,” said a club spokesman.
“The netting is needed to stop stray golf balls from leaving the course and causing injury or damage to homes that are being built close to the golf course boundary.”
However, councillors have now agreed to recommend the planning application for safety netting for approval provided the club first explores other possible safety options with the housing developer, Charles Church, part of the Persimmon Group.
Will Gannon, chairman of Exeter Golf and Country Club, said: “We are thrilled with the council’s decision to recommend this application for approval. This decision is absolutely crucial to the future of the golf course and the club.
“This recommendation gives us the ability to encourage Persimmon to negotiate with us again and explore alternative options to preserve the safety and playability of the course.
“This could mean re-routing the golf course, something which the club could not afford itself, but we hope this recommendation for approval will open discussions with the developer again on this issue.
“Persimmon did regard the presence of the golf course as a major selling point. They even named some of the house types after such places as St Andrews.
“Thanks to the councillors at Exeter City Council for having the courage to make this sensible decision which has taken us a step towards safeguarding the future of the golf course.”
The golf club has 5,000 members, employs 100 staff and has an annual turnover of £3 million.