The lovely, rolling Downs Course at Goodwood is a beautiful place for golf - Rob Smith experiences the Ups of the Downs...

Goodwood Golf – Downs Course Review

Our most famous courses tend to be those of the classic links and heathland variety. The beautiful Downs Course at Goodwood is neither…

Downland golf doesn’t enjoy the reputation of links or heathland, but there are nonetheless some terrific examples in the UK & Ireland, particularly in East and West Sussex. One of the finest is the James Braid design at Goodwood, which runs up from the valleys onto the hills to offer expansive views and entertaining golf. Braid was responsible for Gleneagles and many more, and the Downs course is in Golf Monthly’s Next 100 Courses of the UK & Ireland.

Golf at Goodwood dates back more than 100 years and it offers a hugely enjoyable rollercoaster ride as well as far-reaching views over to Chichester and out to sea. Enjoying a sympathetic upgrade in 2004, it now stretches to well over 7,000 yards from the back, and is just over 6,300 from the yellows. The opening hole and closing two lie to the east of Kennel Hill, and the course really takes off from the second which is an excellent par 4. Here, you must drive up towards the crest of the hill – not too long – before an exciting shot over the valley to a green waiting the other side.

The approach to the second hole

The approach to the second hole

You continue uphill for the next three holes, the first of which, the third, is stroke index one and rightly so. Playing every inch of its length, it is also easy to be blocked out on the right.

A tricky green awaits on the third

A tricky green awaits on the third

There is brief respite at the sixth, a short par 4 with an inviting drive back down the hill.

The sixth green with the fourth hole in the distance

The sixth green with the fourth hole in the distance

You now head right out onto the Downs, where the testing seventh dogs from right to left to a green where you can say hello to those putting out on the fifteenth.

The seventh green with the eighth beyond and fifteenth to the right

The seventh green with the eighth beyond and fifteenth to the right

Following a brief stop at the halfway house, the eighth is a very attractive short hole right at the heart of the course.

A necklace of bunkers protects the eighth

A necklace of bunkers protects the eighth

Nine and ten take you to the edge of the Downs and back again, and there is a very inviting drive at the next from an elevated tee down towards a diagonal quartet of Braid bunkers.

The inviting view from the tee at eleven

The inviting view from the tee at eleven

The twelfth is an excellent short hole, played from another slightly elevated tee down to a bunker that seems to be bobbling in a sea of sand.

A magnificent seven bunkers protect the twelfth green

A magnificent seven bunkers protect the twelfth green

The next three run round a lovely copse and back up to the top of the course before a long hole which takes you back down to Kennel Hill. Across on the home side, the seventeenth is the final short hole which is protected short and right by water and on the left and back right by sand, some of it not easy to see from the tee.

The final short hole at seventeen

The final short hole at seventeen

The closing hole is a stiff par 4, and it’s then back into the Kennels for some very welcome sustenance. The Downs Course at Goodwood is full of character, undeniably memorable and genuinely quite different. Look out too for the fleet of ‘vintage’ golf buggies, a homage to the estate’s motorsport and revival traditions.

In addition, the Park Course at Goodwood offers a fine alternative, easy-walking and running through majestic trees close to the historic house and superbly appointed hotel.

Woody - a Goodwood buggy

Woody – a Goodwood buggy