Then and now: The remarkable resurrection of the Hororata Golf Club, destroyed by the flood

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Then and now: The remarkable resurrection of the Hororata Golf Club, destroyed by the flood

John Morton examined the devastation at his beloved Hororata Golf Club and took a philosophical view:

“I said, ‘Oh yeah, OK. Well, we just have to deal with it. “

The beautifully manicured 18-hole course was inundated by a raging Selwyn River when floods in mid-May flooded Canterbury. Fairways and greens have been buried under tons of silt and gravel. Fences and bridges that had been built over decades by hard-working club volunteers were destroyed.

Hororata Golf Course was inundated by the flooded Selwyn River during an unprecedented flood in May.

DELIVERED / stuff

Hororata Golf Course was inundated by the flooded Selwyn River during an unprecedented flood in May.

Morton, a past president, and his wife Meg have been deeply committed to the club for about 40 years.

“I said to Meg, we have been here before. If the water sinks we can reassemble it. It’s just going to take a lot of hard work. “

Club President Nicky Muir was at a loss when she saw the damage.

“I just couldn’t believe what was going on on our little golf course,” she said.

“The river is of course part of our course. But the damage that was done … we just couldn’t imagine it going back to normal. It was just amazing. “

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Muir and the Mortons are part of a community of devout volunteer members who pride themselves on their course at the foot of the Southern Alps, about an hour’s drive west of Christchurch.

“It’s really like a very big garden,” said Morton.

John Morton back on the green of the Hororata golf course.  He has been involved in the association for 40 years.

CHRIS SKELTON / stuff

John Morton back on the green of the Hororata golf course. He has been involved in the association for 40 years.

But beyond that, the club and its café provided the social “glue” for the community.

“I have a lot of good, long-time friends at the club,” said Morton, 70.

“It really is a very important part of our life.”

Hard work and the great support of the golf community had allowed the club to reopen the course, but it could take another 6 to 18 months for all 18 holes to be fully repaired.

“We decided as a club that it was important to get things going and get everyone back here,” said Muir.

“At the moment it’s playable.”

Five weeks after the flood disaster, a large part of the Hororata Golf Club is playable again.

CHRIS SKELTON / stuff

Five weeks after the flood disaster, a large part of the Hororata Golf Club is playable again.

Cindy Driscoll, executive director of the Hororata Community Trust, said the golf club is an integral part of the farming community and is considered one of the best courses in Canterbury.

The community was “devastated” by her destruction, she said.

“It wasn’t just a tributary, it was the full power of the river. It removed fences and bridges that the volunteers had built. There is a huge amount of gravel and silt deposited on the entire course, and that alone causes enormous damage. “

Volunteers swinging shovels and wheelbarrows cleared the run of silt and gravel left by the Selwyn River.

CHRIS SKELTON / stuff

Volunteers swinging shovels and wheelbarrows cleared the run of silt and gravel left by the Selwyn River.

Fixing it was hard, physical work, said Driscoll.

Within a few weeks, volunteers began cleaning up. One day up to 70 people from the flood-affected community came to the course with wheelbarrows and shovels.

“They were all fighting shoulder to shoulder,” said Driscoll.

“A lot of it was manual labor to scrape the shingles off the fairways … you couldn’t put heavy machines on it because it would have created more chaos.”

Many in the community struggled with flooding on their farms and properties but came anyway to save their golf course, she said.

“Many people were personally affected by the floods and so their relief, their happy place – the golf course – was also damaged and that is a double blow.

“The desire to get this course back was evident, and I think that means it for the community.”

Driscoll and the Trust got down to work raising money for the restoration and turned to a brand new initiative from Sport NZ, BoostedSport.

The crowdfunding platform is designed to help clubs and local groups raise funds for community projects. The Hororata Golf Club was one of the first to try it out.

Within a week, it had raised more than $ 10,000 through the website.

Cindy Driscoll, executive director of the Hororata Community Trust, says the golf club is an integral part of the community.

CHRIS SKELTON / stuff

Cindy Driscoll, executive director of the Hororata Community Trust, says the golf club is an integral part of the community.

Driscoll said the nearly 100-year-old golf course has seen flooding in the past, but never as badly as this year.

She said the Selwyn District Council had done some flood control work, but more was needed.

We keep hearing that these events will happen more often, ”she said.

“We have a golf course on the bank of a river … how do we protect the golf course and the river?”

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