Beckenham Place Park in danger of closure

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jpjeffery

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This year I joined a golf club for the first time: Braeside Golf Club, which uses council-run, public course Beckenham Place Park.

Within a month of joining the news came out that Lewisham have development intentions for the site:
http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/news/Pages/Beckenham-Place-Park-scoops-%C2%A34.9m-lottery-win.aspx

In that blurb they state "The historic core of the park is currently dominated by a public golf course, which was once one of the busiest in the UK but is now used by an average of just 45 golfers a day"

Quite how they came about such a small figure we can't work out. I was there at 8pm the other evening and within five minutes of arriving I saw at least 12 golfers.

They are right - at least anecdotally - that it's not as busy as it was, but then they killed off the Youth Academy, reduced the maintenance of the course (weeds in bunkers and no rakes, poor greens quality, derelict practice nets, unfit-for-purpose winter tee mats) and maintained the relatively high green fees - other local and better quality courses are the same price or cheaper.

Still even with all that when I'm able to take a midweek day off to play there are always other players ahead and behind me, and that's in winter, spring, summer or autumn and it always seems plenty busy on the weekends.

Braeside have successfully resisted Lewisham's previous attempt to close the course about six years ago, but this one feels more serious with the lottery grant. Still one wonders if that money might have been granted at least in part because of the quoted figure of 45 golfers a day...but if that figure is false, I wonder what the lottery fundholders might think of that.

With stories of so many clubs/course struggling and even closing it would be very sad if this one was to close as well, particularly considering the potential it has (i.e. if was the busiest once then it could be again). Unfortunately it does seem that Lewisham council regard the course as a thorn in its side rather than a jewel in its crown.

If anyone has any ideas on how to prevent the course closing please pipe up!
 

Foxholer

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Seems a pretty classic way Councils work - neglect the existing 'undesirable' facilities, then justify the change of use by the decreased activity they have caused!

Obscene imo! And that's irrespective of whether it's a Golf Course involved!
 

Bratty

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Not sure there's much that can be done. When councils get this far, then it's usually a done deal.

I'd be very worried about the "event space" mentioned in the article. I'm sure local residents are going to be really happy about concerts being held there!
 

dewsweeper

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Sorry to hear his news.
I started playing in 1967 and being a Peckham lad this was one of the coureses closest to me.Have many happy memories of my early rounds there.
I recall the Pro then was Geoffry Cotton,I think he was Henry Cotton's nephew.
Once made up with another chap on his own and it ws not until we teed off I realised he only had one arm.
He had a set of woods right up to the equivalent of a 9 iron.We played a system of handicapping where by if you won a hole you gave a shot on the next hole if you won that you gave two shots on the next hole.
Two shots was the most you had to give,cannot remember the result but it was a revelation to me to see how well he played.
Golf really is a good game to be able to play with such people.
Best of luck with fightng this planned Council plan.
Dewsweeper
 

Swingalot

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Sad news indeed, I played my first ever round at Beckenham Place Park and used to live in Braeside Road, so a course with many happy (and unhappy!) memories.

I believe this has been muted for many many years, certainly longer than 6 years. David Lloyd was in at one stage about 10 years ago trying to buy the whole lot and turn it into a huge gym / tennis facility etc.
I also know of at least one big far eastern group +20 years ago who wanted to buy it off of the Council and make it the orginal 'London Club' but from what I heard the Labour Council could not be seen to sell such a green space off to the higher bidder (not sure New Labour would be so keen to dismiss the £££)
Looks like Lewisham have played the long game and just let the place run itself down until they can then convince everyone that it is no longer viable as a golf course.
 

C&R

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Remember queuing behind at least 30 players on a Saturday morning. If you wanted to be one of the 1st in line, then you had to get there by at least 5.30am.talk about 1st tee nerves😳
 

6inchcup

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the way of the world now im afraid,local authority owned courses and land are ripe for developers and the council isnt going to say no when the planning application goes in are they.
 

Swingalot

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Remember queuing behind at least 30 players on a Saturday morning. If you wanted to be one of the 1st in line, then you had to get there by at least 5.30am.talk about 1st tee nerves😳
Yep, a long que that used to stretch along the tee and then back up towards the putting green that was next to the clubhouse. Sometimes an hour wait easy.
 
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jpjeffery

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If anyone could find out from their club, or even local public course, the average numbers of golfers playing a day (over a year) that may help us. I've no idea how the average number Lewisham have quoted compares...

TIA
 
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Sad news indeed, I've played there. It's not the best maintained course in London but it's a lovely course with incredible elevations and dips. Had my first ever birdie there.... lol

Would an e-petition make the council reconsider?
 
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If you want to know how or where the 45 per day figures come from, submit a Freedom of Information request to the council asking the specific questions you want answered. I'd ask to be provided with something like monthly usage figures for the past 3 years (including pay and play and club usage, plus the annual expenditure incurred on maintaining the golf course (not including general park maintenance).

Check the council web site, but its usually best to address it to the council's chief executive.
 

delc

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We seem to be losing an awful lot of Muni and Pay and Play type courses in and around London, and the South-East in general. Perhaps the R&A or the English Golf Union should start lobbying the powers that be to retain them wherever possible. This should also be of concern to private clubs, because a fair proportion of their members probably started playing golf on such courses. I did! :mmm:
 
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Bratty

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If anyone could find out from their club, or even local public course, the average numbers of golfers playing a day (over a year) that may help us. I've no idea how the average number Lewisham have quoted compares...

TIA
I played Beckenham Place Park years and years ago, and I seem to remember enjoying it. Sad that it may go the way of the Dodo!

It might be worth checking to see how many members you have, as there's not much point comparing yours to a club with 600+, I would think. Apples and apples better than apples and pears.

We've got 450 members, but get a load of societies, so on a Saturday or Sunday, we'd easily get 130 through the doors per day. Weekdays, I'm not sure, but I'll check for you.

You may also want to envoke the Freedom of information act and request membership and useage details for the courses at Magpie Hall Lane and High Elms from Bromley council, as that would be a similar set up. You may want to widen it to other London Boroughs too (a quick google search should find them).
 

dewsweeper

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Good article.

In the Daily Mail..... whatever next!
Takes me back to my earliest golfing days in 1966/7/8.
I used to get there at daybreak and often hacked around for 36 holes,Geoff Cotton was indeed the Professional.
It is a lifetime away from my present situation at Warrington GC in Cheshire,I would probably be labelled "an old Fart" these days but I can still remember improving slowly there .
I sincerely hope the campaign does save BPGC and give access to this cracking game of ours.
Dewsweeper
 
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