Golfers more concerned about birdies and albatrosses now have to contend with another animal on the course - a big black cat seen prowling the rough.

Pro golfer Ian Campbell spotted the beast strolling across the grass during a recent round at Brighton and Hove Golf Course.

He said: “It was about 7pm, I was facing south towards the sea, when I spotted something come out of the bushes about 120 yards away.

“Straight away I knew it wasn't a dog. It was a big, black cat, about the size of a Border Collie. It walked very slowly across the course.”

Mr Campbell said the big cat had come from the direction of nearby fields and that he was already aware of similar creatures roaming the Sussex countryside as a friend had spotted one at close quarters in Eastbourne.

He contacted big cat expert Neil Arnold, who tracks the animals throughout Sussex and Kent.

Mr Arnold, who has just written a book called Mystery Animals of the British Isles, said: “Both black leopard and lynx have been seen in the area over the last few years.

“Earlier this year a completely eaten deer carcass was found in Devil's Dyke and a few years ago the Portslade Panther hit national headlines after reports by a milkman of a large, black cat walking down the street one morning.

“Cat sightings pepper Sussex folklore and date back centuries.

“Such animals, which are the offspring of releases from many years ago, have established themselves in the countryside, feeding off deer, rabbit, pigeon, pheasant and livestock and yet strangely these animals are still perceived as myth.”

In June last year The Argus reported on a panther-like creature dubbed the Beast of Bevendean after it was spotted several times in woods.

Residents held meetings to discuss their sightings with one dog walker claiming the animal had scratched his pet.

In February this year a hunt was launched for the “Panther of Preston Park” after sightings of what is thought to have been a black leopard.

Have you seen the black cat? If so contact The Argus newsdesk on 01273 544516 or leave a comment below.