We highlight the best golf courses in the bottom right corner of England...
The Best Golf Courses In Sussex
Taking up the entire bottom right corner of England, the counties of East and West Sussex provide some sublime golfing experiences and yet despite the length of coastline there are very few links courses to choose from.
Related: Golf Monthly’s UK&I Top 100 Courses
Given the sheer number of golf on offer in the two counties, we have decided to look at some of the best, starting with West Sussex Golf Club.
Commander G W Hillyard originally discovered the site back in 1930, and then Sir Guy Campbell and Major C K Hutchinson designed one of the most aesthetically beautiful courses in the southern England.
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.
A challenging course that tests all levels of golfer, West Sussex is particularly stunning in the Autumn months.
Notoriously difficult to secure a tee-time, Rye is one of the few courses in Sussex offering a links golf experience. Founded in 1894, Harry Colt designed the course and despite getting significantly damaged during the Second World War, Rye has still risen back up the rankings of courses in the country.
Indeed, Colt was the club’s first captain and this was his very first design, one that would switch him from his career as a solicitor into that of a golf course architect.
His trademark bunkers abound, and there are several blind shots that have to be played over ridges.
A par of 68, there are few chances for birdie largely due to the short holes being brutal. The wind is savage and there are so many good holes it would be wrong to name any as the best.
Royal Ashdown Forest (Old)
Originally called Royal Ashdown and Tunbridge Wells Golf Club, Royal Ashdown Forest was founded in 1888 and despite it not being clear who designed it, it is a probable assumption to make that the founder Archdeacon Scott was involved.
In the beginning it measured at a mere 4,900 yards but has been lengthened and another distinguishable feature is that the whole course has remained natural. The bunkers are in fact pits of grass and it is the undulations and trees that act as the courses main defences.
One of its most famous holes is the short par-3 6th, otherwise known as the ‘Island Hole’. Only measuring at 125 yards, it is protected by a gully, and a deep stream. Find the green is an achievement indeed.
The parkland layout in this bustling commuter town grew from nine to 18 holes 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.
The original James Braid layout has changed occasionally, 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.
The Lower Course at Worthing, like the Upper, was designed by Harry Colt after the First World War. The club decided that they wanted to create a second 18-hole course and Colt used clever design and ingenuity to redesign the entire area. The result are two tough courses but the Lower offers more of a stiffer test.
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, 13thand 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.
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Royal 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
East Sussex National (East)
One of the newest courses on this list, the East course at East Sussex National opened in 1990 and quickly became a tournament host. Back in 1993 and 1994, the course hosted the European Open which were won by Gordon Brand Junior and David Gifford.
The designer was American Bob Cupp and he created a stadium-style course that measures 7,100 yards from the back tees.
East Sussex National (West)
The longer of the two courses at 7,154 yards, Cupp also designed the West course and it too hosted championship golf. Between 1995 and 1998 it hosted the Challenge Tour Championships and also used for European Tour Q-School between 1994 and 1997.
Little Horstead Creek winds its way throughout some of the holes an the closing stretch will test your resolve if you have a good score going.
Founded in 1895 , Crowborough started life as a nine hole course before being extended to 18 holes in 1905. Measuring just over 6,200 yards there are several testing holes but the signature hole is known as ‘The Speaker’. 190 yards off the backs, a lost ball awaits short and left so a par here isa good score.
Interestingly, Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, lived near the course and was the club captain in 1910.
A course that offers some stunning views, Seaford gives golfers the opportunity to gaze upon the Sussex Downs to one side and the English Channel on the other.
Believed to be the oldest club in Sussex, it was founded in 1887, the club moved to its current location in 1907, J.H. Taylor designed the course with John Morrison later making changes to it.
Seaford Head Golf Course
Like Seaford above, Seaford Head Golf Course was also founded in 1887 with 12 holes.
Two years later it was extended to 18 holes, but during the Second World War the course was used by the military and also ploughed up to create food. It was reconstructed in 1946.
The par-5 18th is of particular not as you drive off the top of a cliff that gives a beautiful landscape view of the surrounding area.
Legendary golf course designer James Braid laid out Pyecombe golf course in the Sussex Downs National Park. Originally sculpted in 1894, more land has been procured to allow for redesigns and lengthening of the course.
The ninth, known as Switchback, in particular is a great par-4 that allows you to play across the valley.
Mannings Heath (Waterfall)
The main course at Mannings Heath, the Waterfall was founded in 1905 and Harry Colt is believed to have played a part in its design.
The undulating terrain and large trees create a secluded and peaceful atmosphere and both factors also create some incredible holes.
The 155-yard 5th, called the Punch Bowl, is played to a green cut into a steep hillside falling down from right to left as you look from the tee, leaving a half circular banking, rising to about 8ft at its maximum, running round the right of the green.
There is plenty of bail-out room to the right, but this will leave a tricky chip down onto the green.
If you decide to play the Waterfall and its sister course, the Kingfisher in one day, then a buggy might be necessary given the two course up and down nature.
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