Feb 21st, 2016
London's last inner city golf course to close
Say farewell to Beckenham Place Golf Course
Words: John Dean
It’s official. London's last inner city public golf course is to close — and this is mostly thanks to a £4.9m grant from the Lottery Heritage Fund. So what’s the thinking?
Lewisham Council have taken the decision this week to ‘remodel’ Beckenham Place Park, into someone’s idea of what it might have looked like in the 18th century. And in doing so, the 18-hole course will have to go.
According to official figures, over 20,000 golfers play on the course every year. With green fees of £20 on weekdays, and £27 on weekends, if we do the math this should generate over £456,000 on a 60/40 split between week days and weekends.
OK, this is basic fag packet stuff (cigarette packet for our American and European followers), and doesn’t include concessions. But it also doesn’t take into account food and beverage sales, Mars Bars and Pro Vs. If everyone spends a fiver then turnover should be up to nearly £600,000. And then there are events, weddings, and functions.
We know that our audience has people who know the numbers far better than us, so please feel to chip in with your knowledge. We would like to make the case for keeping the course open, and any help would be appreciated.
But if our basic assumptions are correct, we can see Beckenham GC turning over at least £800,000, and probably employing at least six members of staff – good local jobs.
Most of the revenues will be used to staff the place, and keep the course in order. Glendale Golf also manages the course, so there will be big savings in terms of overall management and maintenance costs.
So, worst course scenario the club makes a small loss, or is running around breakeven. If anyone knows better, please chip in, no pun intended. Well, may be a little.
Any road, by our crude reckonings Lewisham Council has a great course, with lots of local residents playing, and it isn’t costing them much – if indeed anything.
So what’s the plan? They’re going to close a course that’s been in existence since 1907, and open to the paying public since 1934, to do what? To make it into a big park, with a new lake, so it looks like it was in the 18th century. Well, how modern and forward thinking is that? And how practical?
Now we all like a nice park, especially in a crowded inner London environment. But let’s face it; this is a huge area to maintain simply for a few dog walkers over most of the year. For sure, it will be a great space for people in the summer, but why not be more creative and use it for music and other community events as well – based out of a fully functioning and properly staffed clubhouse?
Keep the golf, keep the infrastructure, keep the staff, and then make the most of this amazing London lung.
Good marketing, a bit of creatively, and Bingo Little you’ve got something great – for everyone. Rather than a white elephant park that’s not making any money, except when the sun is shining when you can sell a few ice-lollies.
But no, you’ve got some fancy Lottery Funding, so why not spunk that all and then wonder a couple of years down the road why you are broke.
We have had exactly the same down here in Mid Sussex. They closed the local pitch and putt, and turned it into a ‘wild flower meadow.’
They don’t have to cut the grass anymore, but no one uses it and they’ve killed a great pitch and putt which so many kids who live in all the houses they have built around it won’t have a chance to start playing the game.