A string of courses offers excellent golf on the Sussex Downs stretching from Eastbourne to Chichester, and everyone has their favourites.
There is much good golf to be found in Sussex, despite the county not being quite as renowned for its courses as neighbouring Kent, with its trio of famous links on the coast headlined by Open Championship venue, Royal St George’s…
Check out our Royal St George’s video below
… but there is still much excellent and varied golf to be found within the county, with nowhere able to match Sussex for the sheer breadth of Downland golf to be enjoyed within its boundaries.
When it comes to golf on the Sussex Downs, Pyecombe has always been right up there for me for the golfing test, the feel of the place, and the sheer splendour of the views.
In its splendid 3rd hole, I also think it boasts one of the finest par 4s on the Sussex Downs. The hole plunges down before climbing equally dramatically to a green a touch smaller than you would like for the severity of the shot required to find it!
Other front nine highlights include the mid-length par-3 8th that traverses the valley you then play up on the 9th and 10th.
The 11th takes you back up to the higher ground while the approach on the short 12th can be a nervy affair with the South Downs Way and out of bounds lurking close on the right.
At 223 yards, the par 3 that follows can be out of range some days, and there’s no doubt that par here any day will see you making up ground on the field.
The Lower course at Worthing plays close to Cissbury Ring, an Iron Age hill fort, with the shorter Upper course occupying the higher ground above.
The long tough 2nd provides an early shock to the system, sweeping down and then up to a deceptively sloping green – a common Worthing defence.
The longer back nine kicks off with the wonderful down-and-up 10th, which may not be long but boasts a worryingly narrow green with bunkers to the left and a steep run-off to the right.
From here, the tests come thick and fast courtesy of some of the course’s toughest par 4s like the 12th and 15th, which will often require two lusty blows.
Brighton & Hove
I played at this nine-holer for a couple of years, and always thought the 1st was blessed with wonderfully liberating properties as you play back towards Brighton and the coast.
The first few holes play along a broad hog’s back before you descend dramatically to a lower valley via the spectacular ‘Drop Hole’ 6th, whose exposure to the elements could see you hitting anything from a sand wedge to a wood to negotiate the 100ft drop.
Successfully locating the narrow approach road and clawing your way painstakingly up to the clubhouse is well worth the effort as the views out over the town and along the South Downs are magnificent.
A few short par 4s early on give you plenty of hope, but they don’t always roll over tamely in the wind.
Highlights include the par-5 9th, where bigger hitters might just get over the ridge off the tee to bring the green in range, and the long downhill par-3 12th.
Among the sterner tests is the 18th, where the slope threatens to kick your ball into trouble on the right all the way to a testing two-tier green.
Willingdon on the outskirts of Eastbourne, plays in a bowl at the foot of the Downs rather than on top.
JH Taylor transformed the original nine-holer into a full 18 in 1905, but today’s course is largely the 1920s handiwork of Dr Alister MacKenzie, creator of Augusta National and the famous Yorkshire duo of Alwoodley and Moortown.
Indeed, few holes anywhere boast as pronounced a ‘MacKenzie’ green as the par-5 12th where the upper level is seven feet higher than the lower.
The 1st is one of the toughest openers in Sussex, a 420-yarder playing to a wide shelf green, while the 5th green’s sleepered front stands out early on. Coming home, the 249-yard 13th is a stern par 3, although mercifully, it is at least downhill.