Carlisle Leisure Limited is a non-profit making trust and was formed to manage the City’s leisure facilities including the outdoor sites such as the Stony Holme Golf Course, Swifts Par 3 Course and Driving Range. David Holliday is the Area Supervisor responsible for these outdoor areas and it has certainly been a hectic year for him and his small team.
It was the morning of 9th January 2005 that the residents of Carlisle woke up to find the two rivers running through the city, the Caldew and Eden, had burst their banks. A large area of the City was underwater and, sadly, two pensioners living in the Warwick Road area were drowned.
Stony Holme Golf Course is an award winning 18 hole pay-and-play course located only 5 minutes from the centre of Carlisle. It lies on the flood plain between the two rivers and was under at least 3 metres of water when the greenkeeping team eventually made it to the course. Nearby Brunton Park, home of Carlisle United, was also devastated with water so deep that the goalposts were totally submerged!
Stony Holme is a great mixture of tight tree lined fairways and tricky shots over and around water. However, in January the devastation was not just confined to flooding; the gales that accompanied rain also blew down many of the mature trees on the course. Some were snapped off at a height of around 4 metres!
Eventually, the waters subsided and a massive clean up operation began around the City. Insurance companies, the local water authority and several building companies set up portable offices in Warwick Street to aid the residents and today, more than a year on, many of the houses are still having remedial work done. One house, close to the Stony Holme Clubhouse, is being demolished to make way for new flood defences.
David Holliday’s first task was to salvage as much equipment from his office and machinery storage area and then begin the process of restoring the course to its former glory. The whole course was covered in a slimy residue and on the greens this had to be literally scrapped off and carted away, before the greens eventually dried out and were then heavily overseeded to create a playable surface.
David operates a very lean team, just five greenkeepers including himself, so there is always plenty to do. The major task has been clearing the fallen trees and this is still ongoing.
Although the Clubhouse is still closed, the course is now gradually returning to its former condition and David has recently taken delivery of a new greens mower from his local grounds care dealer, Rickerby Ltd, to help continue the improvement.
The new machine is a Jacobsen Greens King VI, a ride on greens triple with a light footprint and a cutting width of 1.57metres. This particular mower is unique in that it is the first of its type in the region to be fitted with ROPS protection. The Health & Safety Executive suggested that due to the elevated nature of Stony Holme’s greens, to protect them from ‘normal’ flooding, that the greens mower be enhanced with the addition of roll over protection. Rickerby’s arranged for a bespoke ROPS to be designed and fitted to the Greens King VI.
“It’s been a very demanding year”, said David, “but we seem to be getting there now. We’ll always be at the risk of flooding, due to our location, but we’ll continue to invest in the right equipment to ensure that we provide value for money for our customers.”
Stony Holme Golf Course www.carlisleleisure.co.uk