Golfers including Nick Faldo are coming out swinging against Lewisham Council's plans to close inner London's only 18-hole public course.

Lewisham Council wants to axe the 107-year-old course at Beckenham Place Park - which lies on the border of Downham and Beckenham - after bidding for £4.9m in Lottery cash to turn the fairways and bunkers back into re-landscaped parkland.

But golfers say the course, once of the most played in Europe, and its listed buildings have been neglected by the council, which they accuse of secretive planning and sidelining the Beckenham Place Park Working Party which was meant to monitor the Lottery bid.

And they claim the consultation process - which included the now-ditched option of using the site to graze cows - was flawed, uniting players and other park users in opposition to the plans. 

The consultation had only 175 responses -with just 62 people wanting no golf at all in the park.

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David Hansom from the Friends of Beckenham Place Park said: "The course was once the pride of the borough - played by more people than any other public course in Europe at the time when it was handed from the GLC to Lewisham Council. 

"At that time, the proceeds from the course were sufficient to maintain the total borough parks' budget and more. That the council cynically milked this cash cow is a matter of extreme sadness by most park users - and a legacy of shame for Lewisham Council."

Mr Hansom, also part of the Braeside Golf Club who successfully fought a previous bid to cut the course to nine holes, said: "If the course went , the chances are there'll be less people using the park, not more.

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"When we won the fight in 2008 to save the course, the mayor said he wanted to make Beckenham Place Park better known. There's no sense at all that happened."

A spokesman for Lewisham Council said: “The council is continuing to develop proposals to attract more people of all ages to visit the park, that focus on restoring much of the park’s heritage features and vastly increasing the opportunities for leisure and recreation for visitors from Lewisham and beyond.

“These proposals are supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. We have talked to a good cross-section of the local population and those with an interest in the park, including current park users, community groups, sports groups, heritage and conservation organisations, local residents and school pupils.

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“These conversations have shown a high degree of support for options that restore much of the heritage landscape of Beckenham Place Park. We will be seeking to involve people again once we begin more detailed planning." 

A petition against the closure has been signed by 1,792 people so far, including British legend Nick Faldo, while campaigners are even selling t-shirts to raise cash.

An open competition for the campaign will be taking place at the course from 10am on March 15, followed by food at the Foxgrove Club.

The petition is available to sign at