Hotel’s 6-storey fence to beat golf ball hazard

Premier Inn with the 15-metre fence behind it. Picture: JON SAVAGE
Premier Inn with the 15-metre fence behind it. Picture: JON SAVAGE
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A HUGE six-storey fence is set to be built at a popular driving range to protect nearby hotel guests from flying golf balls.

Bosses at the Premier Inn, Lasswade, are expected to mount a 20-metre mesh boundary at its car park wall to prevent wayward drives from injuring its patrons and damaging cars.

Located next to the A7, the hotel sits across the road from Melville Golf Centre – but ­according to health and safety experts, the Premier Inn’s prime location has been placing visitors to the area in ­danger.

Since 2012, at least three people have been struck by golf balls whizzing from Melville’s adjacent driving range and while there have been dozens of near-misses, at least ten car windscreens have been smashed.

Last year, the back-seat window of one car shattered on top of a baby’s car seat.

On another occasion, one of the hotel’s windows was smashed by a ball just as a guest was sitting down to have a meal.

Allan Lucchesi, from Dalkeith, was one of the victims of haphazard golf swings when his car was damaged at the hotel last year.

“People are at risk daily and they don’t even know it,” he said.

“The potential of this happening again won’t go away, and so the fence has to be built as high as it can possibly be built.”

The hotel has spent the past four years trying to tackle the golf ball problem.

In 2011, a six-metre fence erected between the venues was quickly doubled in 
size after a hotel guest was struck by a ball in the ­shoulder.

Later, the barrier was raised to 15 metres and Melville agreed to permanently mothball four of its driving bays to reduce the volume of shanked drives crashing into the hotel car park.

To finally put the issue to bed, the hotel filed an application to increase the fence to 20 metres.

But blueprints for the towering fence – which were shot down by Midlothian planning officials amid fears the huge barricade would spoil the character of the area – are now set to be rubber-stamped today.

Environmental health official Willie Stobie said aesthetics would be a lower priority than ensuring the safety of hotel guests.

“There have been several high profile incidents in the Lothians and Fife during the last few years where people have been partially blinded after being struck by a golf ball,” he said.

“If there is a proven risk to users of the car park, it will be on Midlothian Council to take formal action to protect the health and safety of members of the public.”

No-one at Premier Inn Lasswade or Melville Golf Centre was available to comment.