Golf: Wandering Golfers Are Looking to Home Run; Hopes High That New Plan Will Provide a Fresh Start

Article excerpt

Byline: BY HAROLD BROUGH Daily Post Golf Correspondent

THE dwindling band of golfing nomads of Merseyside, four years without a course of their own, now have their hopes raised on a new home.

The golfers are originally from the Widnes municipal of St Michaels Jubilee, an old landfill site which won an award as an outstanding exercise in land reclamation.

The club, which opened in the Queen's jubilee year of 1977, originally as a nine hole layout and later extended to 18, developed with an enthusiastic and thriving membership which reached almost 300. Then the old problems of the contaminated land came to the surface.

"It was an old landfill site, a chemical dumping ground and the problem was that it was found that the chemicals came to the surface," says Will Harvey, St Michael's secretary. "There was a pungent smell and contaminated water."

The course was closed in 2004 for examination and remedial work and, as Will Harvey puts it, "we were left in the lurch."

The members had to play golf elsewhere. In the atmosphere of uncertainty and without a home many members left. But for those who played on, the loyalty and affection to St Michaels remained.

While the old golf course land was abandoned the clubhouse remained open and some of the members continued to meet there on Sunday nights. The golfers played elsewhere, for a while at Widnes, then at Woolton before moving last year to Fiddlers Ferry. Wherever they found a temporary base they always played as St Michael's Jubilee, a club without a home but keeping their own competitions, prize presentation evenings, even the annual dances and, of course, the Sunday night chats at their old clubhouse overlooking their abandoned course.

Will Harvey expresses the thanks of his members to the clubs which offered the golfers their facilities. The St Michaels golfers were given Sunday mornings tee times at Woolton for two years.

"They kept us together for that time," he says.

The membership has now declined to less than 50 but after four years and playing at three different clubs there are signs the St Michaels golfers will find a permanent home again not far away.

Despite the work to clear the contamination from the old St Michaels land, some of the golfers and some of those within the local community doubted whether they would ever play golf there again.

Indeed some of the land is going to be used in connection with the Mersey Gateway plans, the new Mersey bridge crossing which is likely to start in 2012.

But Halton Council confirmed that there is room on the old course for the bridge works and for a golf course and say that the plan is for golf to be played there again. …