Golf club forced to move tees after dunes collapse

Dunes hopton

The dunes along Gorleston Golf Club have been ebbing away for years, with the club preparing for the eventuality of moving some of the tees - Credit: Google

A golf club which has so far fought the odds against coastal erosion is moving tees further inland after sand dunes supporting the course collapsed.

HM Coastguard Gorleston dealt with an incident between Gorleston and Hopton on Sunday, March 8 after the cliffside supporting Gorleston Golf Club began to break away.

Gorleston coastguard

The dunes began breaking away on Sunday, with the site attended by HM Coastguard Gorleston - Credit: HM Coastguard Gorleston

Erosion has been an issue for the club for many years, and contingency plans following the landslide are already underway.

Club captain John Hopwood said in response to the weekend's events that the priority is "the safety of visitors and members" when golf resumes on March 29.

He said: "We have already planned for this situation by introducing new tees and a fairway approach to the 16th hole which will be away from the cliff and will utilise the old practice ground.

"On the 5th hole there's greater difficulty as we cannot move the fairway away from the cliff, but the management committee are looking at the safest way to play the hole."

He added that as far as the sea defences were concerned there was "no funding available" to repair them.

Gorleston Golf Club, where Michele Polidano worked.

Gorleston Golf Club is having to relocate its tees following a dune collapse at the weekend - Credit: Archant © 2009

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"In the longer term we will be developing the land we previously purchased towards the A47 once a final plan is drawn up and budgets agreed," he said. 

"This could be four to five years away from completion."

In the meantime, however, the club is confident members can continue golfing largely uninterrupted when the sport welcomes back its devotees.

"The course is very much in play," Mr Hopwood said. "The cliff erosion on these two holes in particular is continually being monitored by the committee and actions will be taken to ensure golfers can continue to play safely."

A coastal golf club is planning a fundraising day in support of the James Paget University Hospital

Golfers are able to return to the sport on March 29 - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

After Sunday, the Coastguard warned people to stay away from the cliffs while they remained unstable.

In a Facebook post, the volunteer-ran service said: "Please do not attempt to climb or play on the cliffs.

"If you see anyone in difficulty please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard."

The fragility of the dunes along Norfolk's east coast has been the topic of much discussion this winter as strong winds and high tides rolled back 15ft of material from the front of one property in Hemsby.

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