Why is my golf course really closing?
For five years now there has been talk of Beckenham Place Park Golf course closing. And now it is – at the end of the year.:-(
I started playing there in 1973 ish as a school boy, when we could chose golf as a school activity (I went to a state school). I don’t remember much about it but it did get me interested in playing and I would have the odd round or two. But then I hit 40 and decided that I would really like to get good (I had dreams of getting on the senior tour!!).
I decided to play at Beckenham because it was close, it didn’t demand the huge investment that private clubs were asking and it definitely wasn’t stuffy – just regular people enjoying themselves. Nearly 20 years later and it remains the same.
OK golf takes up a lot of space. But as a friend of mine said “it don’t half make the park look nice”. But there is a lot of space at Beckenham – the golf course takes up less than half the area of the park. There use to be football pitches but they have gone by the wayside.
Could it be the cost of upkeep? Well every park costs money to look after. Yes a golf course takes more but isn’t that why people have to pay to play there!! And as far as I have seen the money coming in more than outstrips the money going out. How many of Lewisham’s other parks pay for themselves?
Then there’s the Lottery funding that the council have got. Great news as it will allow them to restore many of the heritage features of the park. And they say they want to make the park more attractive to a wider range of people. That’s great but there’s over 100 acres of park they can use for that without closing the golf course. I would love to see parks used more but you can’t force people to go there. The Council want to restore the lake so people can kayak – but there are huge costs involved in that and how will it be financed for the day-to-day running? As a member of a local kayak club I know that people aren’t going to flock to paddle there. I have a feeling that once the golf course is gone they will still have costs that they will need to cover by people paying for activities. And down the line these will go as number dwindle.
Beckenham use to be the busiest golf club in Europe. I know numbers playing has declined but Lewisham has also been responsible for letting the course decline as well. It seems that no one ever focusses on making things good these days – it’s all about the cost. With a bit of love and attention it could be the sort of golf course that would attract people from all over. It could actually be an ‘attraction’ that people of the borough were proud of!!
I’m not really sure what the drive is to shut the course but here’s a few contenders:
Having spoken to a lot of people there seems to be a feeling that once the golf course has gone then Lewisham will put housing on part of the park – and that some people have been “incentivised” to do this!!
The Lottery Heritage funding wanted more diversity from the park and Lewisham were too blinkered and too short sighted to see a role for the golf course.
Someone had a bee in their bonnet about the amount of space golf takes up for a “few golfing types” without really investigating what all current park users wanted.
It will be a sad day when the course closes. But I hope that the plans do see a revitalisation of park usage by many more people – although in all honesty I doubt it.