Floating balls on the cards for golfers as flood-hit Worcester driving range mulls an underwater future (From Worcester News)
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Floating balls on the cards for golfers as flood-hit Worcester driving range mulls an underwater future
A WORCESTER driving range is giving serious consideration to becoming an ‘aqua range’ in a bid to keep their flood-ravaged business alive.
The owners of Worcester Golf Range, in Weir Lane, Lower Wick, have researched the prospect of digging out the existing facility and turning it into a lake, which would enable them to remain open all year round.
Gary Kibblewhite admits it is a struggle to keep the business open having lost so many trading days to flooding, which he feels is an ever-increasing problem.
However, if he procedes with his plan, the family-run 24-bay floodlit range could become one of the country’s few aqua ranges and the first in this region.
“I’m seriously looking into the possibility of turning the range into a lake and making it into an aqua range,” Kibblewhite said. “I have already spoken to the PGA and the Golf Range Owners Association to see how feasible the idea is.
“At the moment, I am sat in my kitchen and I can see the rivers Severn and Teme have burst their banks and the ditches are filling up, so the water will be pouring onto the range again this week, forcing us to close again.
“If we had an aqua range, we wouldn’t have these problems, but it would be a major investment for us.
“However, as a business we just can’t keep closing our doors when the floods come.
“The pitch and putt course is always quiet at this time of year and has now been closed by the Christmas floods, so that leaves us with one income stream — the range.
“I am already robbing Peter to pay Paul, so we obviously have to do something to keep the business going.”
If the Lower Wick site was converted to an aqua range, it would see golfers driving floating golf balls into the man-made lake, which could also feature targets or islands to aim for, before being scooped up off the surface of the water for the next people to use.
Kibblewhite added: “When the range is flooded we stay open and allow golfers to drive balls into the flood water and we collect them when it has receded, but obviously once all the balls are gone, we have to close.
“During the Christmas flood, one of our regular customers said to me that driving balls into the water was the most fun he’d had down here, which was some great, unsolicited feedback about us having an aqua range.
“There are not many aqua ranges in England.
“I have done a lot of research, but none of these things are as easy as they first sound.
“I have written to the Environment Agency about it, though, and am waiting to hear back.
“I would also have to run the change to an aqua range by the council’s planning department to see if it would be possible and if there are any issues.
“Hopefully, we will be able to have an aqua range in Worcester soon — in fact, we have one this week!”