Jeremy Ellwood highlights courses to suit all budgets and tastes in both the east and west of his home county
A Golfer’s Guide To Sussex
1 West Sussex
There’s a sense of serenity about the setting, and having now played it a number of times, I always feel as though I should be able to score round here, though I rarely do.
There’s just one par 5 – the opener – so although the overall yardage may look quite modest, you have to remember that you’re playing against a par of just 68.
There are so many good holes it’s almost impossible to narrow it down, but the contrasting back-to-back par 3s at 5 and 6 are memorable for different reasons – the former because it is such a visual delight across swathes of heather, and the latter because you can stand on the tee some days and struggle to see any way of hitting the green 226 yards away.
If I had to pick a favourite, though, I’d go for the long stroke-index-one 11th, a visually magnificent hole sweeping round to the right where you may require the timber to get you home some days.
Stats: par 68, 6,264 yards
GF: Round: £80-£105; Day: £80-£125 depending on day and time of year
The Downs course brings back memories of a once-a-term treat during my student days in Chichester.
The original James Braid layout has changed since then, with further recent renovation work by Tom Mackenzie, particularly to the bunkering.
The course now starts with a testing long par-3 in a valley close to The Kennels clubhouse, then demands a real leap of faith as you fire your blind approach away on the 2nd over an escarpment.
After a few more valley holes, you finally climb up on to the downland after the 6th, where the holes take on a more open feel.
The down-and-up par-5 11th and delightful par-3 12th are the visual stars here.
The Downs course is primarily members only, but the ‘Member Experience’ allows others to visit too, while the sister Park course is open to all.
Downs course: Par 72, 6,674 yards
GF: £119 ‘Member Experience’ to include range balls, breakfast, 18 holes, buggy and lunch or dinner
Woodhall Spa and Seacroft stand out in Lincolnshire,…
Suffolk is an under-rated golf destination, with five…
3 Haywards Heath
The parkland layout in this bustling commuter town grew from nine to 18 holes in 194 under the direction of James Braid, just two years after opening.
The 1st is a modest par-4 to ease you in and a few holes later comes the tempting short 5th, where many will be eyeing up the green.
The stretch around the turn is particularly challenging, with perhaps the most testing being the par-4 11th, although the 6th may run it close with its blind drive and often blind or semi-blind approach.
Stats: Par 71, 6,216 yards
GF: Round £27-40 (after midday at weekends); Day: £55; Twilight: £12-£27
I have fond memories of the downland layouts at Worthing, for it was on the Lower Course more than 20 years ago that I scored my only ever Sussex Order of Merit points!
The long par-4 2nd will certainly stick in your mind, plunging down off the tee before turning gently left and up to the distant green.
The 3rd is a strong par-3 too, playing across a wide gully to a devilishly sloping green. Indeed, there is great variety throughout, from accessible par-5s like the 6th and 8th to stout back-nine par-4s in the 12th, 13th and 15th.
The down-and-up 10th warrants a special mention – it’s a mere short iron in, but the treacherously narrow green simply must be hit as missing almost anywhere will leave a tricky up and down.
Lower course: Par 71, 6,505 yards
GF: Round: £50wd, £60we after 1pm
5 Ashdown West
Ashdown West may play second fiddle to the highly regarded Old Course at Royal Ashdown Forest, but it is more than capable of looking after itself.
The reason for this is not only a number of tight fairways, but also sometimes unpredictable bounces when the fairways get firm.
This means that the short par-4s don’t always roll over quite as readily as you would like, while longer, sterner tests like the nerve-wracking 435 yard 18th rarely give too much away.
Stats: Par 68, 5,606 yards
GF: Round: £20-£40 depending on time of day and year