Golf club could close after £10,000 raid

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A HENFIELD golf club could be forced to close after course machinery worth more than £10,000 was stolen in two ‘soul destroying’ night-time raids.

The unique Horton Golf Club, self-funded by 85 members, was burgled of overnight some time between 6pm on Sunday 6 and 8.30am on Monday May 7.

Just weeks before, thieves broke into the club and drove away a Massey Ferguson tractor, worth £4000.

Chairman Martin Tooth said he and the members are ‘devastated’ as the prospect of closure looms.

“With very limited funds, and the loss of so much equipment, we face the fact that the club could be forced to close,” he told the County Times.

“We’ve got to pay rent, pay lots of fuel costs, we’re just really strapped financially.”

Members have enjoyed around 12 years of golf at the local club ever since it was started by a keen sportsman put off by the etiquette and fees of another.

“One night he got some guys together who put some money in a pot, rented land off a farmer and it grew from there,” explained Martin.

The club closes every Saturday morning from 8am until 12pm as members take to the course and maintain its much-loved grounds.

Chris Charlton, committee member and head of machinery, said: “It’s soul destroying, it really is gutting.

“I’ve got to start all over again. What I’ve built up over seven years has been taken away in a matter of hours.

“Everything is locked up as best as possible and that’s how it’s always been and we’ve never had any trouble.”

He explained the club receives around £8,000 income a year, £6,000 of which goes towards general maintenance costs such as buying grass seed and preparing the tees. The cost of the tractor alone was around £4,000.

He added: “It’s such a lovely club and the local community love it. It’s for golfers of all abilities and there’s nothing else around like it - it would be such a shame to see it go.”

Horsham police believe burglars gained access to the site via Henfield Business Park during the first raid.

When access via the same route was not possible the second time, thieves parked by Oreham Common before making their way over fields, stiles and the golf course to steal remaining equipment.

PC Natalie Steward, of Horsham police, said: “They knew there was more stuff and they’ve come back for it.

“Patrols will be stepped up in the area and we are appealing to anyone who may had seen or heard any suspicious activity.”

The club is now calling on groundsman and contractors who have any unwanted equipment to contact the chairman on 01273 493993.

Anyone with information about the thefts can contact police on 101 quoting serial number 331 07/05/12.

THE STOLEN HAUL

1x Massey Ferguson 135 tractor reg no XYD 297N chassis no 440851

1x 12.5 hp Craftsman sit-on mower in grey with rear discharge

1x 7.5 hp Lazer sit-on mower in red with side discharge

1x National 68 inch triplex mower white with green chassis

2x Honda irrigation pumps with two inch outlets

1x air compressor: Sealy electric

1x Agri Fab 175lb Poly-pro drop spreader to fit sit-on mower in black

1x 22 inch Honda petrol mower

1x leaf blower 2 stroke petrol made by Ryobi

2x strimmers (petrol)

1x petrol Briggs & Stratton scarifier in yellow (may be Sisis branded)

1x large steel tool chest complete with tools (spanners, screwdrivers etc)