Officials at Chart Hills Golf Club have vowed to re-open the course by the weekend after fire swept through the Kent clubhouse last night. The blaze badly damaged two-thirds of the Biddenden club’s main building around 8pm but hopes are high that Chart Hills will fulfil its obligation to host its European Tour qualifying school event on Saturday. Firefighters and police are investigating the cause of the fire.
David Walls, director of sales and marketing for Leaderboard Golf, owners of Chart Hills, said, “We are waiting to get confirmation from the risk assessor but we are keen to have the golf course re-opened for the European Tour event at the weekend.”
When the fire broke out the members of a golf society were calmly evacuated from the building, home of the Ladies’ English Open, which is situated midway between Ashford and Maidstone.
“The fire alarms went off just before 8pm when we had the best part of 60 to 80 people in the clubhouse,” said Walls. “Everyone was evacuated safely and calmly.”
Ten engines from across Kent were called to the scene, but the fire was doused before it reached the club’s key operating facilities. Key areas of the golf club – including the professional’s shop, locker rooms and lounge – were unaffected by the fire.
David Walls is keen to get Chart Hills fully functional within days. Speaking on the morning after the fire he said, “Providing we get clearance from the relevant authorities, we will get back down to business as soon as possible. Golfers booked in today at Chart Hills have been redirected to our sister club in East Sussex – Dale Hill – or other courses in the area who have the room, but we are hoping to have the course up and running again immediately.”
The European Tour has confirmed that Chart Hills will continue as a venue for Stage One of the European Tour Qualifying School next week. Mike Stewart, European Tour Qualifying School Director, said: “We applaud Chart Hills for the sterling effort they have made to ensure Stage One of the Qualifying School can go ahead as planned, and we wish them well with their rebuilding programme over the coming months.”
Chart Hills Golf Club www.charthills.co.uk