A spate of golf clubs have found travellers appearing on their sites
Several golf clubs have found groups of travellers boarding on their sites in the last few weeks.
It is thought at least five golf clubs have reported caravans and people appearing on their properties – and many have taken legal approaches to have them removed.
In most of the cases the visitors have left quickly, but the experiences for the golf clubs have not been good and business has been hurt.
Royal Aberdeen Golf Club took legal action after a group of travellers set up camp in its car park.
Ronnie MacAskill, the club secretary, said: “A small group of caravans turned up. They took up residence within our official car park.
“I should make it clear they did not encroach on the golf course itself.”
The club applied for a court order to have them evicted and they left the following evening. Royal Aberdeen, which is hosting the Scottish Open this month, has since hired a 24-hour security company to patrol the venue.
Maxstoke Park Golf Club in Birmingham also had a speedy resolution to the problem when greenkeepers arrived to find three travellers’ caravans on site recently, but only after damage had been done.
“We phoned the police and were advised that no law had been broken. They said that as it’s private land, it’s a civil matter and they won’t attend,” said honorary secretary Dermot Lynch.
Within a few hours some of the travellers left the site by car, and the club contacted the police again to ask if it could block its driveway to stop them returning. The police said it could.
However, when they returned the travellers parked their car across the outside of the barrier for several minutes – blocking the club’s members from access to their own club.
The police then agreed to visit the club, and notified the travellers that the club had requested that they leave immediately. Over the next three hours the club claims the travellers urinated and defecated in the car park, and interfered with a petrol cap on a member’s car. The police then threatened to tow away their vehicles and over the course of the next few hours, the travellers left.
“It’s hard to know exactly why they left when they did but our local police officers told me that a contributing factor will have been the attitude and response of our members to this unwanted intrusion. They told me that ignoring them, avoiding confrontation and going about our business as normally as possible in the circumstances was exactly the right response.
“We were lucky and were able to get rid of them fairly quickly. I know that Burton Golf Club also had an intrusion from what sounds like the same group and so did Willesley Park Golf Club,” said Lynch.
Meanwhile, a family of travellers has won a legal battle to stay on a former refuse tip opposite Henlle Park Golf Club in Shropshire, after the local council initially refused them permission to live there.
The family was given a three-year permission by the planning inspector to stay on the land despite dozens of objections from members of the golf club.
The planning inspector said that the three-year deal was an ‘appropriate balance’ between the needs of the family and of the golf club.