EXCEPTIONALLY wet weather has kept sportsmen in the Petersfield area indoors and caused massive backlogs in fixture lists.

But rugby players have found that the wet weather has actually helped their season.

The Petersfield pay-and-play golf course has been closed since the beginning of October and staff say only a completely dry end to the month will allow them to open in May.

General manager Richard Hines said he had never known weather to affect the golf course like this.

"We are hoping that we can open the course at the beginning of May but that is our hope and cannot be our target because there is nothing we can do about the weather.

"Of course there has been a revenue effect on our business but it has not put the course under any threat.

"We just need 10 days to two weeks of dry weather so we can get machinery on the course to cut the grass, which is growing very quickly now."

The wet weather has failed to stop play at Petersfield's membership course, off the Petersfield by-pass, which remains open.

Mr Hines added: "Golf has taken a hell of a bashing this year with all the rain and it has affected courses across the country.

"There have been times when it has only been our membership course and the course at Hayling Island open.

"We have had more people from other courses coming to play here but not as many people in total because it is just so muddy."

Football teams have been forced to cancel a number of fixtures throughout the season, which has led to a serious backlog of games.

Now some clubs are playing two games on Sunday and even midweek fixtures to catch up with the schedule.

The foot-and-mouth crisis has also worsened the situation, forcing some games to be called off.

But members of the Petersfield Rugby Football Club say the wet weather has been kind to them.

Celia Miller said: "It has been a bit of back-handed favour for us, as lots of teams have had to come here to play as their pitches are so bad.

"It has meant that a lot of our away games have been played at home. It has also attracted a lot of people to the club."

She added: "The Taro pitches are probably some of the best in Hampshire and we have had teams from Havant, Hamble and Fareham coming to play here.

"It has certainly benefited us. It shows that every cloud has a silver lining."