Course Review- East Brighton Golf Club (http://www.ebgc.co.uk)
Conditions: Mostly Sunny, Mild, Windy
Green Fee: £24.00 (Booked through Teeofftimes.com)
Range: Short Game Area, Practice nets.
After a weekend off from golf in Sussex, I was excited to get back out there and try another new course, which would be East Brighton Golf Club this week. Situated (unsurprisingly) to the East of Brighton rising up into the hills above Brighton Marina. On a rather windy Sunday afternoon at the end of July, I had a warm up at the range at West Hove Golf Club before heading to East Brighton Golf Club for my tee time, which I had pre booked for £24 through Teeofftimes.com.Despite being one of the closet courses to me, it isn’t the easiest to access purely due to the traffic in central Brighton, but transport links from the north and east are slightly better.
One of the older courses in the area, first established in 1893, before being redesigned by James Braid (five time Open winner and world renowned course architect) in 1908. I have played other James Braid courses before, predominantly in the South West of Scotland and have always enjoyed them, so I was excited to get out to East Brighton. After checking in to the pro shop and picking up a yardage book, I hit a few putts on the large putting green to gauge the speed, before heading to the first tee.
The first hole is a fairly straightforward hole, a 354 yard par 4 from the yellow tees, rising uphill away from the sea. A blind tee shot meant I opted for a hybrid off the tee, with a solid strike down the middle finding the centre of the fairway. As I started to get further up the hill walking down the fairway, the wind became even more apparent, adding to the difficulty of my second shot. A punched 8 iron uphill into the wind held its line nicely before stopping dead on the green setting up a mid range birdie putt, which despite a nice stroke, slides by on the low side, before tapping in for my regulation par.
The second tee is positioned directly behind the first green, and is the first par 3 of the course, playing across the slope, with the ground all feeding from the left. A long par 3 at 199 yards, I opted for a 5 iron, hoping to get a kick onto the green. To put in perspective just how windy it was, as I was preparing to tee off the flag blew out of the hole! My tee shot was well struck, but held up in the wind and finished just short of the green. After popping the flag back in, I played my pitch on to the green, perhaps not being as aggressive as I needed to be, leaving it 12 foot short of the hole, before missing the putt and tapping in for my bogey 4.
The 3rd hole is very similar to the first, a straight, uphill par 4 of around 350 yards. Again, opting for hybrid off the tee after the success on the first, A solid strike but down the wrong line, just right of the fairway, sees me finding the first cut. My second shot is also pushed, another punched 8 iron back into the wind, which heads towards the 4th tee. A solid pitch onto the green from an awkward lie by the tee box sets up another decent putt at par, but again the putt slides by, this time a little further than previous, but I’m still able to make the putt coming back for a bogey 5.
The 4th hole is a good short par 3 running along the flat at the top of the hill. At only 154 yards, it is just a short iron, but with plenty of bunkers short of the green, and giant hollows between the tee box and the green, there is still plenty of distraction for the eyes which makes the shot difficult. A solidly struck 9 iron off the tee for me, but after being knocked down by the wind, I was lucky to not find one of the greenside bunkers, finishing between the two. A poor duffed chip means that I’ve got quite a bit of work to do, but I follow it with a better one, leaving myself a short putt for my bogey 4, which I convert.
The 5th hole is one of the signature holes at East Brighton Golf Club, a long downhil par 5, that sweeps around to the right following the out of bounds closely. The temptation on a long par 5 is to always pull out the big stick, but the fairway sloping right to left and significantly downhill there isn’t as much room as you might think, unless you take it very close to the OB line down the right. Using a hybrid again, I get another clean strike away, with a slight draw turning it from right to left. With what I can imagine was a significant amount of roll, I eventually find my ball in the left rough, 303 yards from the tee! With the ball still significantly above my feet, I try to just advance a 5 iron down the hole, but end up turning it over and finding the left rough again. With 70 odd yards left to the hole with my 3rd, I catch my lob wedge a little bit low on the face and end up going just over the green, up the bank on the far side. A nice pitch back down onto the green gives me a chance of making my bogey, which I duly oblige, making the 8 foot putt for my 6.
The 6th hole is possibly my favourite hole on the course, a long straight par 4 that runs back along the hollow below the 5th, making for a couple of scenic shots towards the green. I pull my driver out for the first time today, and a great strike down the middle of the fairway sets up a decent approach to the green. In between clubs, I opt for the lower club and try to force it, finishing just short of the green with my 5 iron. My short game woes continue with another duffed chip, leaving myself a long putt for par, nearly the whole length of the green. I misjudge the pace with my first putt, leaving myself 15 foot still for bogey, which I fail to convert which means I’m walking away with a disappointing 6 after a great drive.
The 7th is the 3rd par 3 of the front nine, which requires another mid iron from 155 yards. A slight miss hit to the toe sees me losing a bit of distance with my 8 iron from the tee, which to a back left pin is not ideal, leaving a long putt. I make the same mistake as the previous hole, leaving the first putt too short, missing the second from mid range, before tapping in for a bogey 4, to card back to back three putts.
The 8th, as the name ‘Round the Bend’ suggest, features a sharp dogleg right at around the 250 yard mark off the tee. I opt for a hybrid off the tee, but hit a little bit of a toe hook and find the left rough. Sitting down, I try to just advance my ball as far up the fairway as a I can with a mid iron, and get a decent strike to leave myself 25 yards short of the green. A nice pitch on, rolling up to 6 feet leaves myself a good attempt at par, which I manage to convert to much relief after the last two holes!
The 9th is another fun hole to close out the front nine. Another fairly long par 4 at 418 yards, the fairway sets up nice for a hard draw, back into a left to right slope. Out of bounds down the right and thick rough if you miss left add difficulty, but I manage to get a driver away as hoped, shaping it back from the right side of the fairway to the left centre. The second shot is all uphill to a green which looks fairly small from the fairway, guarded by a deep pot bunker front right, which is not where you want to be- but surprise, surprise is where I end up! A really nice pitch out of the bunker sets up a great chance at a sand save par, but the 10 foot putt just slides by, so I tap in for my bogey 5, to close out the front 9 in a +8 42.
The 9th green is overlooked by the halfway house which provides refreshments than can be pre ordered at the 9th tee, which is a nice feature that can provide welcome energy or distraction from a bad round, but unfortunately it is just closing up as I get there late on a Sunday afternoon.
The 10th tee is up a small hill just left of the 9th, teeing off back over the green which forms part of the valley over which you hit your approach to the green of the par 3. At 184 yards, it requires a firm strike, which I manage to achieve but turn it over a little bit too much and end up missing the green to the left. An exquisite pitch down onto the green rolls up nicely to inside a foot, and I tap in the putt for my par. From the green, you can enjoy views back towards the coast.
The 11th is a short par 5 on the card, at only 440 yards, but it plays all uphill and back into the wind today. With out of bounds all down the right hand side, and again, thick rough to the left, an accurate tee shot is rewarded. I get a solid drive away, narrowly missing the fairway to the right. I advance my second shot most of the way up towards the green using my hybrid, leaving a 20 yard pitch to the green. A disappointing pitch doesn’t end up close enough to the flag on the two tiered green, but a solid 2 putt sees me walking away with par.
The twelfth tee is situated at the furthest point from the clubhouse, tucked alongside the racecourse. The tee provides fantastic panoramic views back out to sea. From the tee, the large bunker in the middle of the fairway isn’t particularly visible, so I was glad to have my course guide with me! A really nicely shaped tee shot with my driver, drawing off the bunker and round the dogleg sets up a fantastic approach down the hill to the sunken green. In order to keep the ball out of the wind, I play an extended bump and run down the hill to the green with a 9 iron from 110 yards, which nestles in nicely to 3 foot, better than could be expected! I manage to convert the birdie putt with a nice stroke, which is a welcome 3 for the card.
The 13th is a little bit of a strange hole for me, a risk reward short par 4, which sets up great for match play at only 261 yards off the yellows. I opt for a hybrid off the tee, aiming to reduce the risk of the danger of the ball rolling down the slope to the left side of the fairway. I pop my tee shot up a little bit, and finish just short of the fairway a little further left than i hoped. Still only with a short wedge into the green up the hill, I hit a fairly good strike but end up just on the fringe, leaving a downhill putt. The putt gets away from me a little, and slides by a little too far, and I fail to make the one coming back, so have to settle for a bogey 5.
The 14th plays along the top of the hill again, and is a 368 yard par 4 from the yellows. The wind has started to pick up even more by this point and has swung around, so I opt for a hybrid to keep the ball below the wind a little, and manage to find the centre of the fairway. With still a long way in to the green, I have hybrid in my hand still, and my 2nd shot balloons up into the air with the wind, coming up 30 yards short of the green. A solid pitch to the centre of the green, followed by a decent 2 putt means it’s another 5 on the card.
The 15th feels like an extended version of the 14th, running in the same direction but is extended an additional 100 yards to make a tough par 5 back into the teeth of the wind. This time, I opt for driver, and get a solid drive away but the combination of a slight draw and the wind takes my ball left towards the cluster of trees just left of the fairway. Fortunately, I have a swing, and the ball is sitting up enough to warrant having a go with my 4 wood. A clean strike advances my ball way up the fairway, leaving a short pitch to the green from around 50 yards. A nice pitch, but nothing special has me with about 15 foot for birdie, which I fail to convert and have to settle for my par 5.
The 16th is a fairly similar hole to the 4th, a mid length par 3 guarded by bunkers short and visual distraction provided by deep hollows. One of the deep hollows contains a very very deep bunker, one that you know you want to avoid when you notice the steps down into it! Luckily it isn’t really in play, 20 yards short of the green. I hit 8 iron off the tee, which is the right club, but I hang it out a little bit too far right hoping for draw back to the green, and end up missing the putting surface. A decent chip and putt sees me able to make a decent 3 though to keep the momentum.
The 17th is an interesting par 4 of 349 yards off the yellow tees, that requires a thoughtful tee shot given the fact the fairway runs out at 236 yards. I opt for hybrid off the tee, but end up snap hooking it so far right that I am unsure if I’ll find it. Time for a provisional, I opt to swing a bit smoother into the wind, but end up topping it, with the ball feeding down the slope in front of the tee towards the fence which is out of bounds on the right hand side. Luckily my provisional ball remains just in play, but I’m having to take a drop to be confident in my swing being so close to the fence. With my 5th, I opt for the sensible option of knocking it back into the fairway to try and cut my losses. At the end of the fairway, there are another couple of deep hollows to avoid, filled with gorse. My 6th shot back into the wind comes up just short of the green. I am a little over aggressive with my pitch onto the green, and roll 10ft past the flag, but I manage to hole the putt coming back for a disappointing 8.
18 is arguably one of the toughest tee shots on the golf course, semi blind, requiring a fade from the left to follow the dogleg, or a bold draw over the out of bounds to the right. I have to opt for the latter seeing as a do not have a reliable fade in my bag, and a nice tee shot with my driver narrowly misses the right hand side of the fairway. Still a long way into the green on this 460 yard par 5, but I decide to have a go with my 4 wood, but end up turning it over and missing the green short and left. A nice lob wedge over the greenside bunker sees me finding the green in regulation, and another steady 2 putts sees me finishing with a par 5 to close out the back 9 in 42 strokes, for a total of 84 (+13). A slightly disappointing finish with the 8 on 17, but overall very happy with my score considering the wind!
In summary, East Brighton Golf Club is a challenging, yet fun course situated just a few minutes out from the centre of Brighton. The course was in good condition, but the course is very exposed to the elements and must play particularly difficult on a wet and windy winter day! The course has fantastic views out to Rottingdean, out to sea, but also over Brighton, and on a clear day you can see a long way. My favourite holes are the Par 4 6th playing along the valley, the Par 4 9th back up the hill toward the halfway house, and the Par 4 12th with its fantastic views from one of the highest points on the course. I have been back to the course once since the first time I played, and again despite not seeming the windiest of days in general, it felt a whole lot more windy on the exposed downland course! I felt that in comparison with some of the other courses in the local area it was slightly on the more expensive side, but deals are there to be had if you look online or off peak, and I enjoyed it thoroughly nonetheless.
–The Sussex Golfer