@3PuttLifeSociety End of Season Golf Day

The Brabazon Course at the Belfry is used to holding major sporting events having hosted the Ryder Cup on four individual occasions, but never has it seen anything like it witnessed on the 20th October. Yes, that’s right, the Brabazon has a new jewel in its crown: ‘Host of the Inaugural @3PuttLifeSociety End of Season Golf Day’!

After months of hype and build up, the day finally arrived, and boy did we have the weather for it. I’ll be honest, at first I was sceptical about signing up for the event knowing how temperamental the British weather can be, but come Saturday all those worries were put to rest as the fog lifted and the sun broke through the clouds to unveil a perfect autumnal day.

The Ryder Cup these days is renowned for the atmosphere around the first tee and the although the crowds weren’t there (or over half of the other players for that matter!), the nerves definitely were having not played for a month! Once underway, the nerves settled but I definitely took a while to get going and instantly regretted not going to the range beforehand!

IMG_20181020_094818-01
First tee nerves anyone?

One of the most striking features of the course is the hazards, with significant bunkering and large swathes of water almost always seemingly in play, or at the very least providing a visual distraction to the golfer. The Brabazon is very much a matchplay course, with a huge element of risk reward involved due to the positioning of the hazards. Go for the carry, or aiming to the narrower points of the fairway and you are definitely rewarded with significantly shorter approaches to the heavily undulating (and fast!) greens, or lay back from the hazards but leave yourself long carries over yet more water

After easing you into it with the first couple of holes, the first real challenge comes with the par 5 third hole. After two solid shots down the fairway, the approach from the left hand side of the fairway to a back left pin is brutal, as I found out the hard way, watching my short iron sail into the water a yard short.

Shutta_20181021_080454_2-01.jpeg
The approach into the third

After my struggles continued on the fourth, fifth and sixth, with a combination of 3 putts, struggling to get used to the speed of the greens, poor tee shots and other short game woes, my first attempt at getting a decent score on the board came at the par 3 seventh. A picturesque hole, just a mid iron over water to a slightly raised green, perfectly framed by trees, I managed to strike my iron solid, and safely found the green (inside of the closest to the pin marker- although we were only the second group out!), only to be bettered by one of my playing partners. I had left myself an uphill putt, but having been scared by the pace of previous greens, I ended up leaving my birdie putt a good 6 foot short, before racing the par putt by, and lipping out on the bogey putt. Tapping in for a 5 was definitely a painful and awakening moment, reminding me that focus is required on every shot regardless of perceived simplicity! #4puttlife anyone?

IMG_20181020_115131_2-01.jpeg
Par 3 seventh in all its autumnal glory

More short game troubles after finding the greenside bunker following two fairly good shots down the eighth cost me another couple of shots. Heading up the 9th, I decided to change my gameplan as I was not protecting a score and took driver off the tee. Needless to say, the usual happened, finding the trees down the left hand side! After punching out successfully, I left a 70 yard pitch over water into the 3-tiered kidney-shaped green, where the pin was residing on the lower right portion of the green. An average pitch shot left me on the bottom left tier with left myself a tricky putt which broke 90 degrees from left to right, going up a tier and then back down. I managed a solid 2 putt, and was fairly satisfied to walk away with only a bogey.

The iconic tenth at the Brabazon was next, scene of many Ryder Cup memories. The ultimate short par 4, with the green a small target tucked tightly over the meandering water hazard across the front of the putting surface, protected by overhanging branches from the surrounding trees. Not feeling confident in my swing (and even less in my ability to move the ball left to right!), I felt my best chance of birdie was going to be through laying up and a good pitch. This approach had me safely on the green in two and putting for birdie, but 3 putts later and again, I’m walking away with a disappointing bogey.

IMG_20181020_123654-01
The iconic par 4 tenth; would you go for the green?

The eleventh and twelfth went by with much the same play from my behalf as on the front nine, consistently inconsistent! The highlight being a creative and well judged chip on eleven, having missed the green back left, with the pin on the lower front tier.

Shutta_20181023_220321-01
The long par 3 twelfth

I finally (and somewhat embarrassingly) made my first par of the day at the thirteenth after hitting my third GIR of the day. After missing the fairway to the right, a towering 8 iron over the trees found the back half of the green, before lagging my putt up and tapping in for par.

Luckily, I didn’t have to wait that long for my second par of the day, which came at the par 3 fourteenth, following a mid iron drawn in to the left side of the green off the tee. The birdie putt had the right line, but just needed a foot more pace and it could have had a chance.

The fifteenth is a fantastic twisting and turning par 5. Two gaping bunkers await errant tee shots, so I decided to lay back with a hybrid off the tee. Perhaps being a little greedy with my second trying to hit hybrid again, I pulled my second shot into the trees, never to be seen again buried by leaves! Autumnal golf can be beautiful, but my can it be frustrating!

My improved form on the back nine continued on the sixteenth. Following finding the first cut right of the fairway off the tee after an average tee shot, I sweetly struck mid iron landed just on the front edge of the green, before releasing down the tier to the same level as the pin, which was tucked back left. Two putts later and I’m walking away with my third par of the day.

The seventeenth is the longest par 5 on the course, and plays even longer due to the near 90 degree dogleg in the fairway. Longer hitters may hit over the corner, however I played a hybrid to the corner, but unfortunately found the fairway bunker on the corner. Trying to lay up short of the cross ditch in the fairway, I managed to strike my iron particularly well out of the bunker and ended up straight in the hazard! After a drop, my long iron found the back edge of the green where I was able to get down in 2 to limit the damage to a bogey.

IMG_20181020_145045-01 (1).jpeg
The jaw-dropping approach into the eighteenth

Eighteen is yet another fantastic risk reward hole. The further up the hole you wish to hit (and thus leave yourself a shorter approach), the tighter the tee shot, and the further left you have to aim alongside the water. There are also bunkers lurking down the right hand side of the fairway to catch any shots which leak right of your intended line. Again, playing fairly conservative off the tee, I hit hybrid and found the semi rough on the right hand side, but left myself about 190 yards to the flag. I attempted to force a 3 iron, but ended up chunking it, which actually worked out as a pretty good layup to a more manageable distance! With 8 iron in over the spectacular water hazard, I found the left hand side of the green with my third. I hit one of the best putts I hit all day, the perfect lag putt, before tapping in and closing out with a fairly respectable bogey.

Overall, a fantastic day was had by all at the inaugural @3PuttLifeSociety End of Season Golf Day, and I think it was safe to say that the course defeated most of us! It was a pleasure to play a course steeped in history, and is hopefully the first of many seasons of golf with this awesome and ever growing group of people.

image_from_ios-01.jpeg
@3PuttLifeSociety – what a handsome bunch!

Special thanks to all of the various sponsors (Walrus Apparel, Seed Golf, P2 Grips, SawyerCo Golf, Go&Golf) for providing prizes for the event and kitting us out, The Belfry for hosting us, and of course to Ross Noonan for helping to organise the whole event! Hopefully we raised lots of money for Oxfordshire Mind.

Check out my review on @GoandGolf which can be found here !

– The Sussex Golfer

Sweetwoods Park Golf Club – Course Review

So it has been a while since I sat down and done a review for the blog, but having played Sweetwoods Park Golf Club twice since mid-August, I felt compelled to tell you all about it!

From the very moment you turn in through the gates off the A264, you know you are in for a treat. As the drive winds it way down between the 2nd green and 3rd tee, across the 1st fairway and down to the modern clubhouse and pro shop complex situated at the bottom of a valley, you get glimpses of what is to come, and your pulse begins to race.

The first starts off with a tough left to right dogleg. From an elevated tee located next to the practice putting green, to a fairway which slopes from left to right, a good drive down the centre will set you up for an uphill approach into the first green, which has plenty of danger short in the form of a steep drop off and deep bunker. Needless to say- a par 4 is a fantastic score here!

Shutta_20180923_232802-01
Approach into the first green.

As you walk to the second tee, you will notice the competition tee tucked away nestled amongst the trees. Well worth a wander up there just so you can be be relieved that you don’t have to make the substantial carry to reach the fairway by the time you actually get to the second tee! Once you tee off, even from the forward yellow tees the hole is still of considerable length, being the second longest par 4 on the course. A slight draw off the right hand side sets up a nice approach to a fairly large and flat green.

IMG_20180816_151424-01
View from the back tees on the second.

The third is the first par 5 on the course. At just under 500 yards, it is no gimme birdie by any stretch of the imagination, but two solid shots short of the fairway bunker on the right about 100 yards out should set up a decent look.

The fourth hole is one of many which could be considered a ‘signature hole’ at Sweetwoods Park. A short par 5, which plays even shorter due to its downhill nature, gives you plenty of opportunity to get some shots back, but also has plenty of danger to equally prove to be a scorecard wrecker! After taking in the views to come over the sixth and seventh holes, a blind tee shot to a fairway which slopes severely left to right needs to hug the left hand side as much as possible in order to avoid running into the first cut on the right, but also to provide a better angle into the green nestled at the bottom of the valley. Whether you are going for the green in two or three, short left is definitely the safe play, and the ball may even feed down the slope and on to the green. This approach also helps to safeguard from the lake which runs long and right of the green! A hole where nearly any number is possible.

Shutta_20180917_073328-01
A daunting pitch into the par 5 fourth.

After the challenge of the fourth, the fifth seems fairly tame in comparison, even with water immediately in front . A short par 3 which shouldn’t require much more than a short iron to find the putting surface. Note- being one of the lowest points on the front nine, and mostly surrounded by trees, this green plays slightly softer than the others, so an extra club may be required to get the ball back to the flag!

The sixth is a short uphill risk-reward par 4. At only 259 yards from the yellow tees, some longer hitters may attempt to take on the green, but do so at your peril! Long grass awaits right, trees short left, with a significant drop off left of the green. The safe play is taking a mid iron from the tee and staying short of the pond on the right hand side of the fairway, which will leave a simple wedge into the green, favouring the right hand side and feeding down towards the centre for a decent look at birdie. A very good golf hole, and one that offers excellent photo opportunities from behind the small temple behind the green!

IMG_20180816_162547_2-01 (1)
The picture perfect par 4 sixth green.

Seven is a fantastic par 3 which will have had you tantalising over it from first glimpse when on the fourth tee. Playing back over the valley, the unique feature about this hole is the railway sleeper lined bunkers, which rumour has it are able to kick your ball back as far as the water hazard at the bottom of the hill! Ensure you take enough club to carry the two bunkers and walk away with a 2 putt par!

Shutta_20180816_235228-02 (1)

Tee shot on the seventh.

The eighth is another hole where you should be looking to score well, a par 4 just over 315 yards off the yellow tees. A downhill, dogleg right, assisted by the fairway sloping in the same direction, a long iron or hybrid is plenty off the tee to leave a wedge into a green which slopes steeply from back to front. Try to leave yourself below the hole for an uphill putt!

The ninth is arguably one of the toughest holes on the course. A long, sweeping slight dogleg left to right requires a long and accurate shot off the tee with OB down the right, and a couple of fairway bunkers to avoid. A long approach into a green which slopes away from you is assisted by a slight down slope before the green. Bogey is not a bad score here by any stretch of the imagination!

The walk down the hill to the tenth tee gives you a little time to reflect on your opening 9, but also gives you an idea of the elevation change up to the 10th fairway. Not the longest hole, a hybrid or fairway wood off the tee will be sufficient, leaving a mid to short iron into the large raised green. Aim for the centre to avoid the greenside bunkers and look to come away with a regulation par.

The eleventh hole is a fun downhill dogleg right to left par 4. Longer hitters will have the opportunity to hit over the corner to leave a short approach into the green, whilst others may opt to play to the corner of the dogleg, allowing the slope to feed the ball down to provide an angle and leave a mid iron approach into the green. The green isn’t particularly well guarded, so hopefully a green in regulation will yield a decent putt at birdie.

The short walk to the twelfth tee crosses behind the eighteenth which is overlooked by the splendid clubhouse and terrace,  as well as another practice putting green, and really helps to show off the facilities available. The tee is nestled back amongst the trees, where your drive must find the left side of the fairway which again slopes from left to right. The view from the fairway may offer significant distraction for your next shot- with views over the beautiful par 3 seventeenth. There is again little to guard the green, however due to it sloping away from you, it is very easy to go long as the ball will release.

IMG_20180915_172712_2-01
The Clubhouse on the way to the twelfth tee.

The par 5 thirteenth may be unlucky for some with out of bounds all the way down the right hand side, but the sensible play is to treat the hole as a three shotter, despite longer hitters being tempted to go over the corner of the dogleg. If safety is the play, a long iron to the middle of the fairway leaves a layup short of the cross ditch with the second, leaving 150 yards to the green. Aim to get on with your third, and take a 2 putt par, although bogey is not the worst score if you miss the green and fail to get up and down.

The fourteenth is another par 5, the second set of back to back par 5s on the course, and is arguably the hardest. The most demanding drive on the course, a long carry is required to get over the ditch, and a draw is the optimum shot shape for this dogleg left. Overcook the draw and there are plenty of trees which will either block you off with your second shot, or deem the ball lost. Again, another definite three shotter, a mid iron with a touch of draw again will set up a short iron or wedge approach into a small green, guarded by a ditch and plenty of trees surrounding it. This hole well and truly plays to its stroke index of 1.

Fifteen is the longest par 3 on the course, just over 200 yards, but possibly the one with least danger. A fairly straight hole, you have the opportunity to run it up to the green if you are unable to make the carry. If you miss the green, there is plenty of chance for an up and down with little around the green, or on the green to provide much to worry too much about.

Sixteen is another short par 4, but definitely takes some thought. A mid iron off the tee is the play leaving the golfer with a wedge into the green. Longer hitters may be tempted to take a shot at the green, but there is little space to do so, and bunkers short and left are waiting to catch any errant approach. If you do find the green in regulation, you should have a fairly good look at birdie, before moving on to the short par 3 seventeenth.

The walk to the next tee is picturesque, between the lakes surrounding the competition tee on the seventeenth, and those short of the elevated two-tiered green which need to be carried with your approach shot. Although just a short approach, club selection is vital on this stunning par 3, not only to ensure you find the correct tier, but any shots short of the green may well end up rolling back down the hill close to the water, leaving an awkward up and down. Find the right tier and seventeen is definitely a birdie opportunity. One of the most photogenic par 3s in the county.

IMG_20180816_185605_2-01 (1)
The picturesque seventeenth at twilight.

The eighteenth is one of the more daunting tee shots on the course, with a large tree positioned in the middle of the fairway at driving distance. For longer hitters- thread the needle down the left hand side of the fairway to leave yourself the best angle into the sunken green. By accident I managed to establish that you do still have a shot if you finish short right of the tree (particularly if you play a fade or a high ball!). If you’re having to play the hole as a three shotter due to yardage or tree trouble, make sure you lay well back to avoid the deep bunkers front left of the green, which provide a tough up and down for any errant approaches. Once on the green, the struggles are not quite over yet, with a severe two tier green to keep you on your toes one final time. To walk away with par on the final hole, you have played it very well!

Overall, a truly memorable experience from start to finish,  made even better by the fact that it offers fantastic value, variety and a friendly atmosphere. At times it is like walking through a perfectly manicured National Trust property! A true ‘hidden gem’.

four and a half stars copy

-The Sussex Golfer

For more information about the Sweetwoods Park Golf Club, please head to their website on: https://www.sweetwoodspark.com/

Ifield Golf & Country Club – Course Review

Course Review- Ifield Golf and Country Club (http://www.ifieldgolf.com/)

Date: 06/08/2017

Time: 15:35pm

Conditions: Mostly Sunny, Mild



Green Fee: £24.00

Range: Short Game Area, Practice nets.



Par: 70

Tees: Yellow

Yards: 5986

Score: 84

 

August is here and the good weather has managed to return since I last played, with some beautiful sunshine and gentle breezes providing near optimum golfing conditions. I’d be trying another new course this weekend- Ifield Golf and Country Club near Crawley. Due to its proximity to the M23, the course is fairly easy to access from various points in Sussex, for example only just over 30 minutes from Brighton & Hove.

 

Upon arrival, I checked in at the pro shop, before heading to the practice nets to get a little bit of a warm up in, and the putting green to hit a few putts before heading out to the 1st tee. I paid a twilight green fee in the summer of £24, which is comparable to many other courses in the area.

 

The first hole is a slight dogleg left par 5, and is a fairly gentle opening start to the course. Having been founded in 1927, there are many fairly mature trees lining the hole, but the fairway is wide enough that it doesn’t feel too daunting for the first tee shot of the day. With my driver, I ended up hooking it left finishing behind on of the mature trees, not leaving any other option than to punch out and advance the ball 45 yards or so. Still well over 200 yards into the green, I opted for my 4 wood, striking it cleanly with a perfect slight draw and finding an unlikely green in regulation. Still with a lot of work to do, I manage to hit a decent first lag putt, and tap in for my par.

 

The 2nd hole is a sharp dogleg right par 4, turning nearly 90 degrees at around the 200 yard mark off the tee. I opt to play it to the corner with my hybrid, but whilst trying to prevent turning the ball over away from the dogleg, I end up pushing my tee shot directly into the tree protecting the corner. After the dogleg, the the fairway rises steeply up towards a shallow green, that is protected by a couple of deep bunkers to the front. With some sort of a line, I manage to punch a 9 iron out from underneath the tree, leaving a 50 yard pitch to the green. Up and onto the green with my pitch, but not close enough to give a decent chance at scrambling a par sees me two putting for bogey.

 

On to the 3rd, a really nice downhill par 4 of 384 yards from the yellow tees that sweeps around to the right. Due to my typical shot shape (and mistake on #1), I decide to use my 4 wood to try and take the trees down the left out of play, and hit a nice drive down the right side of the fairway, which just feeds into the first cut with the slope. With 150 yards or so into the front of the green, I possibly under club into the green with it being downhill, and only come up to the front edge with the pin back of centre.The first putt left a little bit to do, but a solid 10 foot putt sees me making my second par of the round.

 

The 4th is the first par 3 on the course, an attractive short hole of 151 yards, over a small pond to a green surrounded by multiple bunkers. A nicely struck 7 iron into a slight breeze (clubbing up to avoid coming up short again like the previous hole) sees me finding the right side of the putting surface 15 foot right of the flag. I manage to put a decent roll on the ball and see it track into the centre of the cup for a birdie 2.

 

The 5th hole is hole is the longest par 4 on the front nine, 418 yards, playing straight back up hill. A great tee shot with my 4 wood finds the centre of the fairway, but with still 200 yards uphill to go, I still need to hit a 7 wood into the green. A bit of a snap hook sees me in tree trouble short left of the green, only leaving a pitch out. To add insult to injury I duff my next pitch, before over committing to the next one, going through the green and onto the rear fringe, nestling up against the slope at the back of the green. Putting from the fringe, I fail to get the ball close enough, and end up two putting for a poor 7. A disappointing triple from the middle of the fairway.

 

The second par three on the front nine comes at the 6th. A beautiful little par 3 of only 134 yards, surrounded by trees. A nice little 9 iron finds the centre of the green, below the hole. A good run at the birdie putt slides just by, and I make the come back for a par.

 

The 7th is a really interesting short par 4 of only 302 yards. Off the tee you have a couple of options, either layup around the 180 yard mark leaving a wedge from the fairway to the green, or longer hitters can ignore the fact that the fairway runs out at 190 yards or so, and take on an approach from a shorter distance, but from the hollow distinctly below the 2 tier green. I opted for the first option with just a 6 iron off the tee, just missing the fairway to the left. With just a short wedge into the green, I end up on the wrong tier after catching my shot slightly heavy. A tough putt with significant break, I completely misjudge it and end up under-reading the break and staying on the bottom tier. I do not make the same mistake with the second putt, nearly getting it to the hole, but end up tapping in for a 3 putt bogey 5.

 

The 8th is a short par 5, and time to let rip with the driver. With a much better swing than on the first, I get a good drive away, down the middle of the fairway finishing right by the marker post. With 200 yards into the green, a well struck hybrid finds the putting surface, under regulation. With a rare eagle putt, I have a go (you have to don’t you?) but narrowly miss, but end up going 6 foot by. I made sure with the second putt though, dropping the ball perfectly in the centre of the cup for another birdie.

 

The front 9 finishes with the tough but picturesque, 229 yard downhill par 3. With a small lake directly in front of the tee for visual distraction, care needs to be taken to ensure a solid contact off the tee. I opted for hybrid, finishing right of the green, in between two greenside bunkers, leaving a decent chance at an up and down. A decent pitch, but not perfect sees me leaving 8 foot for par, but this one gets away and I have to settle for a bogey 4, to close out the front 9 in 39 (+4).

 

The back 9 runs around the outer perimeter of the golf course, and starts with the par 4, 343 yard 10th. With a fairway that rises up hill to a crest, before heading back down towards the green, club selection off the tee is key. With out of bounds down the left, and the lake in front of the 9th tee down the right hand side, emphasis is also placed on a straight shot. I opt for 4 wood off the tee, but turn it over a little too much, and end up flirting with OB so much that I need to take an unplayable due to lack of a stance. With my 3rd from under the overhanging trees, I had to flight the ball down, but managed to get far too much forward momentum on the shot, with the ball running through the green. My pitch back onto the green with my 4th leaves a lot to be desired, but a solid lag putt sees me only coming away with double.

 

Things do not start off any better on the 11th, a long 410 yard par 4, where I opted for driver and very quickly regretted it, snap hooking my tee shot left OB. With my 3rd off the tee, I opt for 4 wood this time and strike it down the middle. From 186 yards with my second I narrowly miss the green with a 5 iron, coming up just short left. A distinctly average chip again leaves plenty of work to do, but a solid two putt means that it is back to back doubles.

 

The 12th is a short par 4 at only 303 yards, and not much of any worry to protect the par on this hole. A well struck 4 wood actually finds itself going just through the fairway on this slight right to left dogleg, but with only 77 yards into the green, I do not have too much trouble finding the putting surface with a lofted wedge for my second. With a decent attempt at birdie, similar to the length of putt that I holed for my 2 on the 4th, I read the right to left break well, but just too much pace has it lip out on the high side, leaving a two foot tap in for my par.

 

13 is the first par 3 on the back 9, this time a 164 yard uphill shot, to a green surrounded by 5 bunkers. A well struck 7 iron, but perhaps one club too few sees me finding the front fringe. With a fairly straight putt, I felt like I had a good chance at holing it, but I come up just short and again have to settle for an easy par.

 

The 14th is a fairly straightforward par 4 from the yellow tees, but a whopping 80 yards further back to the whites helps make it the stroke index 5 hole from the competition tees. From the yellows, it only plays 334 yards, So I take a hybrid and make sure I find the centre of the fairway. A short wedge into the green sees me make my first real mistake since the 12th, finding the greenside bunker with a poor approach. Safely out and onto the green, a standard two putt sees me dropping a shot and making a bogey 5.

The 15th is the stroke index 1 hole on the course, a whopping 451 yard par 4, that looks fairly tight from the tee due to the mature trees either side of the hole. I opt for driver, which turned out fairly quickly to be a mistake. Shamefully I barely manage to advance the ball much over 100 yards, so I am automatically on the back foot. A well struck hybrid with my second gets me back in better shape, but still with 140 yards to the green, I get a little bit greedy and take the wrong club and end up chunking it whilst trying to hit it too hard. I compound the errors further mis-clubbing with only a wedge in hand and going through the back of the green. Chipping from just over the back of the green, a solid chip sets up a 6 foot putt for a 6, which I successfully manage to make.

 

16 is a 3rd consecutive par 4, playing 386 yards from the yellows. A 4 wood off the tee, caught a little bit thin just misses the left side of the fairway, leaving 180 yards into the green. A well struck 5 iron finds the putting surface, but definitely more in 2 putt region than 1! As expected, the first putt doesn’t have much of a chance, but is solid enough to convert the par.

 

17 is a tricky par 3, despite being the shortest hole on the back 9, there is little room for error. With OB down the left, and a bunker guarding the green both front left and right, and also a pond just right of the green, an accurate tee shot is required. I opted for a hard 8 iron, and hit it solid enough, but didn’t quite draw the ball back enough to find the putting surface, carrying the front bunker, and very narrowly avoiding the pond, finishing up in the long rough just outside of the hazard. Worried about the OB behind, I fail to commit and do not manage to get my chip out and onto the green, leaving it on the fringe short of the hole. A good lag putt from the fringe followed by a tap in sees me making my bogey 4.

 

18 is pretty much an exact mirror image of the first, a par 5 playing just over 500 yards from the yellow tees, but this time dog legs around to the right. I try to get a bit greedy with my tee shot, trying to hit a big draw with my driver starting the ball over the first hole, but I catch it a bit low on the face and catch one of the trees 70 yards infront of the tee, kicking down dead left, leaving a lot of work to do. From here, I manage to add insult to injury my hooking my next shot whilst trying to get back into position OB left. After my drop, two solid hybrids sees me 25 yards short of the green in 5. A decent pitch and putt and I make a scrappy 7 to finish my round, coming back in 45 (+10) to finish with an 84 (+14).

 

In summary, Ifield Golf and Country Club is a good parkland layout with a well bunkered, but fairly open design, despite a fair amount of mature trees. The course was in good condition, but there a very few holes that offer anything extraordinary. That isn’t to say that Ifield Golf & Country Club is a bad course, but I feel that there are alternate options at a similar or lower price point that offer a more memorable and complete experience. I feel that the front 9 is the stronger 9, with the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th being good golf holes, but the only real stand out hole for me on the back 9 was the 15th.

three and a half stars

The Sussex Golfer

East Brighton Golf Club – Course Review

Course Review- East Brighton Golf Club (http://www.ebgc.co.uk)

Date: 30/07/2017

Time: 15:07pm

Conditions: Mostly Sunny, Mild,  Windy



Green Fee: £24.00 (Booked through Teeofftimes.com)

Range: Short Game Area, Practice nets.



Par: 71

Tees: Yellow

Yards: 6067

Score: 84

 

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

 

My Favourite Courses in Sussex Gallery (September 2017)

This gallery contains photos from some of my rounds at my favourite courses in Sussex, based on those that I have played up until the start of September. All photos were taken by myself using no more than my mobile phone!

I also have a wish list of other courses I am looking to tick off! If anybody can help with that- please get in touch through one of my Social Media pages!

For those that missed the original post- head here:

My Favourite Courses in Sussex

The Sussex Golfer

Dyke Golf Club – Course Review

Course Review- Dyke Golf Club (http://www.dykegolf.com/)

Date: 16/07/2017

Time: 14:07pm

Conditions: Mostly Sunny, Warm, Light Breeze.



Green Fee: £20.00 (Booked through Teeofftimes.com)

Range: Practice Facility, Short Game Area, Practice nets.



Par: 72

Tees: Yellow

Yards: 6351

Score: 91

 

Doubling up on golf this weekend (and new courses!), following on from the previous day’s round at Pyecombe Golf Club, I headed up to Dyke Golf Club early on a Sunday afternoon to make the most of the calm and warm conditions that we were experiencing at the time. I pre-booked my tee time through Teeofftimes.com for £20 plus their £1 booking fee, although Dyke Golf Club do also have their own online booking system (which I must add works well) which I have since used. As with other courses in the area, I have had glimpses before playing, this time when visiting Devil’s Dyke on several occasions.

 

Dyke Golf Club is one of four courses located immediately north of Brighton & Hove, nestled away on top of the South Downs. Being outside of the city itself, it is very easy to access from quite a number of places in Sussex via both the A23 and A27. The course, as previously mentioned, is located close to Devil’s Dyke, which I also strongly recommend checking out if it is your first time to the area.

 

The clubhouse and car park are located at the highest points on the course, which makes a nice change knowing that the first hole isn’t going to be a walk straight up a hill! The clubhouse towers over the course and the practice facilities, and offers great views out over the city itself, but also the sea on a clear day. Upon arrival, I checked in with the Pro, and as per the previous day, was also able to pick up another course guide for my collection, before heading to the practice green to get the pace of the greens before teeing off. I like to have a decent warm up before playing where possible, so on my way up to the course, I had stopped off at the driving range at West Hove Golf Club, although Dyke Golf Club does have a couple of practice nets and a practice ground with multiple teeing areas, as well as a separate short game area, and large practice putting green.

 

The 1st hole starts fairly friendly, with a short par 5 that was playing downhill and downwind for me on the day,  with the main hazard being the Out of Bounds down the right, where the practice ground is located. I miss the fairway which sweeps from the left, placing my drive down the right hand side, but not getting the required draw back to find the fairway.With a decent lie in the rough, I hit a hybrid just short left of the green, leaving myself a good pitch up the heart of the green, and a chance for birdie. I hit a good pitch, but leave just a little bit too much work to do for the birdie putt, which slides by before I tap in for my par.

 

The 2nd is another par 5, of similar length to the 1st, but possibly playing slightly more downhill. I get a good drive away, but a little bit too much draw has me finding the first cut on the left side, just off the fairway. After waiting for the green to clear, I attempt to play a 5 iron into the green, but a little pull means I find the bunker front left of the green. A clean shot out the bunker just rolls through the green and onto the fringe, from which I have a birdie attempt. A little bit too much pace on the putt means the ball doesn’t take the break as hoped, and again I’m tapping in for my par 5.

 

The 3rd is an interesting hole, and for one which  I am glad I had the course guide! A short dogleg right of only 320 yards, where the marker post is situated very close to what looks like the right hand side (immediately behind a large pot bunker some 180 yards off the tee. The course guide suggests that members approach the hole playing to a telegraph pole in the distance in order to avoid the bunker, and this is what I am to do, opting for a 5 iron. Turning it over slightly, I find the left rough, but get lucky with the lie. An 8 iron into the green, drawn off the right hand side, finds me safely on, but with not much chance for a birdie. A solid lag putt sees me in with no troubles for my par.

 

The 4th unusually is a 3rd par 5; not many courses have 3 in total let alone 3 in the first 4 holes! Another one that is reachable in two should you get a good drive away, this sweeping dogleg right hole demands some precision off the tee, with a couple of large fairway bunkers waiting to catch any errant shots. I safely find the middle of the fairway with a large drive, aided by the firm and fast fairways, leaving me around 220 yards to the flag, located at the back of the green. With a sweetly struck hybrid, I find the front edge of the green under regulation, but with the depth of the green to traverse still. A poor attempt at the eagle putt leaves me 15 foot short and with a lot of work to do for birdie. I fail to convert being in a great position in 2 and leave feeling disappointed after tapping in for my par.

 

Even par through 4 holes, but feeling as though I could be a couple better off, I approach the 5th, the first par 3 of the course. The hole is aptly named ‘The Valley’, a nod to the hollow in the land that you must carry with your tee shot in order to reach a small and well guarded green, with a large drop off to the right, also guarded by 3 large bunkers, 1 to the left, and two below the level of the surface to the right. With an 8 iron in hand with the tee forward I try to draw one in from the right in order to get the required distance, but just leave it slightly out there, catching a piece of the bank right of the green before bouncing into one of the eagerly waiting bunkers.The ball collects at the back of bunker, not leaving a lot of room to get the club down behind the ball to lift it out on a bed of sand. As expected the ball comes out cleanly, flying over the green into the bushes. A penalty drop 3rd, has me pitching my 4th down onto the green. Or at least that was the intention… Catching it slightly thin, the ball runs through the green and you guessed it, back into the same bunker I was in. With my 5th, I was determined not to repeat the same mistake as last time, so digging deep for the ball, I swung hard, but a combination of too much sand and the steep bank in front of me sees the ball drop back in. Finally out safely with my 6th, but still only finding the rear fringe, I finally find the putting surface with my 7th, a putt from the fringe that races away down the slope some 15 foot past the hole. Coming back up the hill, I do not give it enough pace, and leave it some 3 foot short. To make matters worse, I miss a short one and tap in for a 10, and I’ve gone from E through 4 to +7 through 5 – card ruined!

 

Luckily there is a short walk between the 5th green and the 6th tee, which allows me to try to regain focus after the previous hole. There is no respite however, with the 6th being the stroke index 1 hole simply called ‘Hill’. Facing you at the tee is a large slope upwards, similar to the 11th at Pyecombe the day before. Again, without the course guide for assistance, I would be none the wiser. I hit a solid enough drive down the left hand side, finding the first cut  some 200 yards out. With the ball above my feet, I compound the previous hole’s errors with a pull hook into some deep rough. Having eventually found my ball, I pitch out of the long rough only to find the bunker, which is located just short of being greenside. Splashing out, I have enough distance to get out, but not to find the putting surface, coming up short. A bump and run onto the green rolls out a little further than expected, and 2 putts later and I’m marking a 7 on the card.

 

The 7th is named ‘Cross Bunker’ after the 4 bunkers that intersect the fairway between 185 yards and 224 yards off the yellow tee. WIth my draw, I expected to aim at the right bunkers and carry the left, but again I fail to execute the plan and end up hitting it dead straight over the right hand bunkers, finding the first cut right of the fairway. With just a lofted wedge into the pin tucked over the front bunker, I safely find the middle of the green, with a little downhill sliding putt for birdie. Again, I get caught out by the pace of the green, sliding it by on the high side, before tapping in the comeback for par.

 

8 is the second par 3 on the course, a short and simple hole of less than 140 yards from the yellows, playing even less on the day I played. With the front surrounded by bunkers, you have to be dialed in with your yardage to find the green safely. In-between clubs I opt for the more lofted, trying to force a pitching wedge. In hindsight, a smooth 9 might have worked out better, having caught the wedge very heavy and finishing short of even the bunkers short of the green. A simple pitch into the green just rolls off onto the fringe on the short side of the hole, leaving a reasonably makeable putt for par from the fringe. Another one slides by and another dropped shot for me, finishing off with a bogey 4.

 

9 is a mid length par 4, heading back towards the clubhouse. The fairway sweeps ever so slightly around to the left from the tee, setting up for a draw off the right hand side, however 4 bunkers await down the left hand side between 179 and 234 yards out from the yellows. I hang my drive out to the right, failing to bring it back towards the fairway, but narrowly avoiding tree trouble after getting caught up in the rough. With my second, the clubhead snags and turns the face over, pulling my approach shot to the left of the long green, which is guarded again by two bunkers to the front. From the left rough, I try to get cute with the pitch over the front left bunker which is guarding the pin, but don’t get enough on it and end up in the sand. A nice out from the bunker unfortunately rolls on a little too far, leaving too much work to do for my bogey, tapping in for my 6 to close out the front 9 in 50 (+13), which was especially disappointing given the first 4 holes.

 

The 10th starts the back nine with a similar hole to the 1st, which it runs parallel to, but being 100 yards shorter is only a par 4. Again, blocking my driver down the right, I miss the fairway, but manage to get lucky and still have a line into the green, where the pin is located towards the back. I hit my approach straight up the heart of the green with a 6 iron from the rough, but with a lack of enough spin, the ball rolls through and onto the far fringe. Finally, I manage to get one to drop, holeing my putt from the fringe for a birdie 3.

 

11, like the 2nd, is a downhill par 5 of similar proportions, again with a blind tee shot. The tee box offers views over Brighton & Hove, and on this occasion the line I decided on for my shot was the i360, with a slight draw. I succeed with finding my target line and desired shot, finding the centre of the fairway some 250 yards out. From a downhill lie, I try to force a 5 iron, hoping that the firm fairways and downhill slope would run my ball down just short of the green somewhere, but end up pushing it out right, just passed the bunker 50 yards short of the green. A pitch on to the green and a solid 2 putt sees me make par to continue the solid start to the back 9.

 

12 is a dogleg left par 4, sweeping back up the hill towards a raised green after the hole turns to the left. I proceed to make the hole play significantly longer than the yardage of 362 yards on the card, by cutting a 4 wood by accident into the right rough. Again luck is on my side as I find my ball in an area of shorter grass that had been used as an access track for maintenance vehicles, therefore had a shot at the green. With a 5 iron uphill, I again left my shot out right, finding the first cut to the right of the green, short sided by the bunker on the right. Again, trying to be too cute (you would have thought I had learnt my lesson on 9!), I put my pitch into the bunker. Safely out and onto the green with my 4th, still with plenty of work to do, I hit a solid lag putt to ensure I don’t score worse than a double bogey 6.

 

The 13th hole is another par 4 dogleg left, named ‘Plateau’ after the flat area that balls finding the fairway should feed down to. The tee shot is attractive, with the fairway being below the height of the tiered tee boxes, and the fairway sloping away from the doglegs. . I am let through on the tee by a 4 some, so added pressure as always when being let through. I hit a bad one with my driver, over cooking the draw and finding tree trouble down the left. Again, luckily I manage to find it, but not lucky enough to be in a position to be able to play it, finding my ball situated at the bottom of a tree with low branches. Dropping for my second, I manage to get up and over the corner of the trees, but my ball bounded through the green and into the 1st cut behind the green. A duffed chip with my 4th, followed by a decent pitch sees me close in 5, holing a 6 footer for my double bogey 6. Safety first off the tee next time I think is the lesson here!

 

The 14th is a mid length, uphill par 3 playing 150 yards from the yellow tees. A little over optimistic with my club selection of 9i  sees me coming up about a club short, failing to account for the uphill slope. Desperate to avoid chunking another chip, I do the opposite this time, thinning it through the green and onto the far fringe. With the putter, I don’t manage to get close enough to the hole to make a 4, tapping in for a 3rd consecutive double.

 

Looking back from the 15th tee towards the 14th green is a nice view of the green complex. I sometimes look at holes from different angles and wonder why the course is laid out the way in it! Distraction over, I need to get my card back in shape after the last three holes, and that starts on 15. An uphill dogleg left, where you can make the hole play considerably shorter by cutting off the corner, a good drive finds the fairway a decent way up the slope. With just a lofted wedge in my hand, I should have done better, but again over clubbing and running through the back and onto the fringe. I give the birdie putt a decent run, but comes up just short meaning an easy conversion for my par to break the trend.

 

The 16th is a fantastic long par 4, similar in design to the 3rd, but 50 yards shorter hence the reduction in par.The tee shot requires a slight fade to follow the curves of the fairway, or a straight shot catching the slope, however my draw doesn’t help me a great deal here, bouncing hard on the fairway and behind some hedges on the left hand side. Mostly cut off, but with a line to the right hand bunker, I decide that the sand isn’t too bad a place to leave my second shot. Nailing a 5 iron and turning it over sufficiently means I do better than finding the greenside bunker, instead rolling all the way through the long, 2 tiered green. The previously mentioned point adds a significant amount of difficulty to the next shot, with the pin being just below the tier. No room for duffed chips or one coming out a bit hot here. A reasonably played bump and run to the top of the slope has me safely on in 3 with a decent putt at par, but another slides by on the low side, before rounding off for my bogey 5.

 

17 is possibly my favourite hole on the course, named after the local geographical attraction- the Devil’s Dyke. The longest par 3 on the course at 192 yards from the yellow tees, a substantial amount of which is carry over a gorse filled hollow, to a green which is set from front left to back right, surrounded by mounds and protected by two bunkers to the front. With a 5 iron, I hit a high towering draw, but again with firm greens I do not have the ability to hold the green, rolling through and onto the rear fringe. I couldn’t have hit one much better I felt, so was happy with the end result. With a downhill putt from the fringe, the ball rolled out some 4 foot further passed the pin than I would like, but I make the one coming back up the hill for my par.

 

The 18th and finishing hole is slightly disappointing (not only because the round is over), but it is also a fairly straightforward short par 4. As I’m not protecting a score I take driver off the tee, but catch it a little high on the face, popping it up around 200 yards down the right hand side of the fairway. Another short wedge into the green sliding off and onto the fringe, I am again lagging my ball close and finishing off for a par 4 to close out my round with a 41 (+6) on the back, for a 91 (+19) overall.

 

In summary, Dyke Golf Club for me is the pick of the bunch of the courses located immediately north of Brighton & Hove. A course that I feel I have the potential to score well on with its string of reachable par 5’s (most playing downhill and with the prevailing wind), it is also thoroughly enjoyable and maintained well. Backed up by a large clubhouse, decent practice facilities and well stocked Pro Shop, it really is a step above those in the immediate vicinity. As with some of the other courses on the Downs, I’m interesting to see how they play in Winter with the rain and wind howling, but on a warm sunny summer’s day, the course plays firm and fast, and the views are superb. My favourite holes are the Par 5 1st, Par 5 4th, Par 3 5th (despite my 10), Par 4 10th, Par 4 16th and last but not least (probably my favourite!) the Par 3 17th. I have since returned a further two times such for my enjoyment of the course and the service provided by all here.

four and a half stars copy

The Sussex Golfer

 

My Favourite Courses in Sussex (September 2017)

Now I have started to tick off a larger number of courses in Sussex, I’m going to keep a ‘Top 10’ list of the ones that I have played. This will be regularly updated as and when I play more!

I also have a wish list of courses that I would like to play. If you have any further recommendations, or can help me in ticking off some on the wish list, do get in touch either through the comments section or Social Media!

Date: 03/09/2017

Top 10 Courses I’ve Played in Sussex

20170903_205431

  1. Seaford Head Golf Club
  2. Cottesmore Hotel Golf & Country Club
  3. Pyecombe Golf Club
  4. Dyke Golf Club
  5. Seaford Golf Club
  6. Lewes Golf Club
  7. East Brighton Golf Club
  8. Mid Sussex Golf Club
  9. Ifield Golf Club
  10. West Hove Golf Club

Top 10 Wish List Sussex

  1. West Sussex Golf Club
  2. Rye Golf Club
  3. Crowborough Beacon Golf Club
  4. Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club
  5. Piltdown Golf Club
  6. Goodwood Golf Club – Downs Course
  7. Mannings Heath Golf Club – Waterfall Course
  8. East Sussex National Golf Club – West Course
  9. Littlehampton Golf Club
  10. East Sussex National Golf Club – East Course

Let me know what makes your lists?

The Sussex Golfer

Pyecombe Golf Club – Course Review

Course Review- Pyecombe Golf Club (https://www.pyecombegolfclub.com/)

Date: 15/07/2017

Time: 15:30pm

Conditions: Cloudy, Warm, Mild Breeze.



Green Fee: £27.00

Range: Practice Facility, Short Game Area.



Par: 71

Tees: Yellow

Yards: 5991

Score: 94

 

Another weekend and another new course for me, as I take the plunge for a round at Pyecombe Golf Club late on a mostly cloudy Saturday afternoon. The weather is still fairly warm, but a bit of a breeze ensured that I wasn’t going to have it all that easy! I pre-booked my tee time through their website and convenient online booking system during their twilight times, which at the weekend set me back £27, which is a little more than I would normally wish to pay for a round of golf, but after having previously walked through sections of the course when exploring the South Downs, I was excited to play, and happy to pay based on what I had seen from the many public footpaths and bridleways that intersect the course.

 

Pyecombe Golf Club is very easy to get to from a wide range of places in Sussex, being conveniently situated just off the A23. The course rises up into the South Downs from the road, with the clubhouse amenities and facilities for warming up (practice nets, short game area, putting green) all located close to the carpark. Upon arrival, I checked in with the Pro, and was also able to pick up another course guide for my collection, before heading to the practice green to get the pace of the greens before teeing off. On my way up to the course, I had stopped off at the driving range at West Hove Golf Club, so was suitably warm and ready to go!

 

As with some of the other courses in the Downs, the course further rises uphill from the clubhouse. The 1st hole is a short par 4 at around 280 yards from the Yellows. With a few trees down the right and the fairway sloping away to the left slightly, I stroke a 5 iron down the middle for safety, leaving only a wedge into the green. From the fairway it can be quite hard to gauge the shape of the green, but with the help of the course guide, I could see that it significantly narrowed at the midpoint, where a second tier also rose. The pin today was on the top tier, and with a solid shot into the green I managed to find the correct level. A good run at birdie slides just by, and I tap in the putt coming back for my par. A nice friendly hole to start the round!

 

The difficulty steps up with the 381 yard par 4 2nd hole, with its left to right dogleg and fairway that slopes in the same direction towards long rough down the right. A great strike with my 4 wood drawing it back towards the slope helps me find the left side of the fairway 135 yards out from the centre of the green, with a relatively flat lie in comparison to the rest of the hole. The green is set into the slope, which means the ball should feed in from the left, but also means that it should drop off if the miss is to the right. I opt to draw a 9 iron into the green, knowing that the miss left should be safe, but have to say I end up pushing it a little further to the right than I would like, but the ball managed to draw back enough to catch a piece of the green, finishing about 3ft right of the flag, which was situated towards the back of the green about 9ft from the right edge! Approaching the 2nd green, you start to get a glimpse of the elevation change of the 3rd hole, but more on that later! I managed to regain focus, and the birdie putt had just enough pace on it to take out any slight break there might have been, dropping in the centre of the cup for my 3.

 

Walking through a gap in the hedges at the back of the 2nd green and onto the 3rd tee, the full elevation change is unveiled, and it is spectacular! What previously felt like a slight breeze seemed to pick up, adding to the difficulty, coming swiftly off the right. I was called through by two gents who were searching for balls in the left rough- not a good sign! With my driver, starting it as far right as I possibly could, the ball sailed back on the wind, carrying the pair that had let me through down the left, fortunately not finding the thickest of the rough. Still 180 yards or so out, all uphill and back into the wind, with my line partially obstructed by trees, I pitch out with a wedge back to the middle of the fairway. Still with a short iron into the green, I don’t adjust for the uphill lie when selecting my club and come up just short of the green, which is further raised above the fairway. A pitch onto the green, followed by 2 putts sees me coming away with double, which in reality fees more like a bogey on what is a very tough par 4! Remember to turn around when walking up to the 4th tee, as there are some fantastic views back down the 3rd over the green!

 

The 4th hole is a little bit of an odd hole for me- it seems a little bit of a nothing hole, but probably the only one on the course. The tee shot is an approach up a hill, not all that narrow, but the course guide shows the fairway running out where a bridleway crosses the hole. Because of this, I opt for safety of a 5 iron off the tee, which unfortunately was caught a little on the heavy side, which finished up just short of the fairway on the upslope. Being a short hole of only 262 yards, I still only had 120 yards or so to the centre of the green. Again, failing to account for the fact my ball was on the upslope, I come up short with my approach, to what is a very, very large green! With the pin towards the back of the green, I still had some work to do in order to try and make my par. A pitch onto the green, but not close enough to the flag sees me 2 putting for bogey.

 

The 5th hole is the first par 3 on the course, at 147 yards from the yellow tees. A short hole, but one with plenty of difficulty with the green surrounded by bunkers, and the wind howling off the right (on what I believe is the highest point on the front 9). Today, the hole was playing even harder with the pin tucked away on the right hand side, nearly inaccessible even to the better players. With my right to left shot shape I had no hope of getting close, and even finding the green proved too much of the challenge, with my shot drawing away on the wind, finishing pin high left of the green. Luckily, the hole widens level with the green, and my shot finished far enough left to avoid the greenside bunkers. A tricky pitch remained over the bunkers, but with plenty of green to work with I managed to get it within 5 feet, before holing the putt for my par.

 

There is a short walk back to the 6th tee for the long dogleg left par 4. Turning sharply left at around 210 yards, driver isn’t really an option off the tee for fear of hitting through the dogleg. I hit 4 wood off the tee, using the wind from the right to help shape the ball slightly back with the dogleg, but still right of the marker post in the fairway. The approach into the green was playing downhill, downwind and this certainly had an effect as my second shot from over 200 yards ran through the green, which drops off the back. My ball settled down in the rough, leading to my short game woes creeping back in with a couple of duffed pitches, before a poor chip once I had finally reached the greenside. The short game errors were compounded with a 3 putt, finishing up with a very, very poor 8 having been greenside in 2.

 

Still reeling from the 6th, 7 does not get off to a good start either. The 359 yard par 4 dogleg right again requires a tee shot too the dogleg, before an approach downhill to the green. Two tee shots off the tee finding the right hand trees and lost, means I’m playing 5 off the tee, and even then it is a little close down the right hand side! Cutoff by the trees, I try to sneak one through rather than punching out, but catch and branch and my ball kicks right. With my 7th, I have a line towards the green, and I utilise the slope down towards the green, pitching it to the left and letting it feed down. Still some way from the hole, a solid 2 putt has me marking a 10 on the card.

 

A short walk through some trees has you come out onto the 8th tee. The hole, known as ‘High Bank’, is a short par 3 of 140 yards which plays across some of the same dry valley that helps make up the massive elevation changes on the 3rd. The hole plays fairly level over the two sides of the dry valley, but three gaping bunkers short of the green wait for any mishit shots. Wanting to avoid any bunker trouble, I decided to club up and swing easy, hitting 7 iron. The easy swing turned into a crushed 7 iron, easily flying the green and hitting the high bank behind the green that the hole is named after. What can only be defined as a ‘member’s bounce’ sees my ball cannon back off the high bank and back onto the green, some 12 foot away from the flag. I manage to capitalise on this luck, finding the back of the cup with my birdie putt for a 2.

 

The 9th is the first par 5 on the course, and is reachable in 2 at 489 yards, providing you get a good drive away down the centre of the narrow fairway. I hit a really good tee shot with my driver, drawing the ball from the right hand side back to the centre of the fairway, carrying the slightly sunken plateau to leave myself 180 yards or so to the green. The second shot you have a choice of playing out right of the green, or hitting over the corner of the dogleg to the wide green behind, but with the risk of getting in trouble. I really felt like the ball was sat well and I could visualise the shot that I wanted to hit, a nice high draw over the right hand edge of the trees on the dogleg to the pin that was tucked away far left. I went for it, and pulled it off to perfection. Green under regulation, with a straight enough 20ft putt for eagle. Now to put this in a bit of perspective, I’m not a long hitter- I don’t regularly hit par 5s in two, but two (very) well struck shots with a Driver and 6 iron has me with a good look at what I believe would be my first eagle ever on a par 5. I spend too much time focusing on the line trying to give myself a chance, but forget to notice that it is slightly uphill, and I leave the putt short for a tap in birdie 4. Coincidentally for those wondering- I have eagled both par 4s (couple of hole outs), and also a par 3 hole in one, but (still) haven’t managed to eagle an elusive par 5. This birdie has me closing out the front 9 at 45 (+10).

 

10 is a short par 4 at around 330 yards from the yellow tees, but with a couple of tricky features to catch out errant shots, there is still room to make a big score if not played correctly. The first hazard that awaits is a large tree in the centre of the fairway, which can catch your eye and make you play away from it. With a 7 wood from the tee for positioning, the often scenario of playing for safety and finding trouble comes into play as I hook my tee shot into the left rough. Having found my ball, and only having 120 or so in, I decide to advance my ball with a pitching wedge effectively taking the second main hazard out of play – the pond, which is located left of the green, and provides the name for the hole. My second shot comes up short right of the green, leaving a pitch up onto the green. The third feature about the hole that is difficult is the green- a false front combined with a two tier green provides the 10th with a lot of protection against its par even as you get close to the putting surface. With my pitch from the upslope, I catch it slightly heavy and end up not making it up the false front, rolling back a yard or so to the bottom of it. With my 4th, I opt for the safer option of keeping the ball on the ground, putting it up the slope with the pin being located on the lower tier, leaving myself 4ft for bogey, which I am able to convert.

 

11 is another short par 4, just over 300 yards from the yellows, but feels like it plays longer due to the significantly uphill tee shot to the elevated fairway. First time playing the course and not knowing exactly what is up top, despite having the yardage book, I opted for 4 wood, and perhaps thought the line off the tee was a little bit further right than it actually was, saw my ball finding tree trouble down the right. After taking an unplayable and pitching back to the fairway, my 4th shot from only around 110 yards finished short right of the green, which is raised with a drop off to the left, but provides fantastic views across the downs. A pitch onto the green followed by a 2 putt sees me making a double bogey 6.

 

The 12th is a dogleg left hole which skirts the outside of the course, close to the South Downs Way. With a fairway that slopes right to left towards a cluster of trees, it is important to start your drive down the right hand side in order to bring it back towards the centre. A mistake with a topped hybrid off the tee sees me in trouble with thick rough just in front of the tee. Luckily I manage to find it and manage to hack it out advancing towards the left hand rough level with the trees around 100 yards out. From the left, the approach into the green is a little more tricky, as there is out of bounds right and long of the green.  Hoping to use the slope of the fairway, I club down to try and land the ball short, but the ball catches a flyer, flirting with the out of bounds right of the green. Chipping down on to the green from the raised bank, I let the slope do most of the work, but the ball rolls through and onto the fringe. I manage to save a shot by dropping the putt from the fringe for my bogey 5

 

13 is a long par three going back the other way, 217 yards from the yellow tees. A really nice hole, with the fairway sloping from left to right, with the contours similar on the green. With a hybrid, I get a solid strike and a nice ball flight along my line of the left edge of the green, the ball bouncing before catching the slope and feeding round towards, and eventually past the hole. The birdie putt misses on the low side, tapping in for my 3.

 

14, as its name suggests is a Long Hole. This 534 yard par 5 sweeps around to the left, and you need to be careful with your line from the fairway as to ensure you either do not hit through it (and into long rough), or miss to the left if you’re too greedy. My drive is the former, going through the fairway. From the thick rough, with ball above my feet and the fairway sloping right to left, the inevitable happens and my second shot end up down the left. From a poor lie, I am only able to advance my 3rd to where the fairway narrows between a tree and the bunker around 50 yards short of the green, but the slope takes the ball into the long rough. I can only hack out, before hitting a poor pitch and missing the green to the left, below the putting surface. My pitch towards the green rolls through to the fringe, but this time I don’t manage to make the putt, tapping in for a poor 8.

 

15 is a fairly straightforward hole, a 331 yard par 4, but unfortunately my card doesn’t get any better here. A hooked hybrid off the tee has me finding the left rough and trees, forcing me to take an unplayable. With my 3rd, I again get one that jumps out the rough a little better than expected, and end up going through the shallow green. A fluffed pitch for my 4th, followed by an over aggressive pitch that rolls through onto the far fringe, sees me again lagging the putt and tapping in for a 7.

 

Crossing over one of the many public footpaths running through the course before reaching the tee, 16 is a dogleg right at around 360 yards. With the dogleg occurring fairly early in the hole, you have the choice of hitting towards the marker post which is 175 yards off the tee, or trying to cut the corner. I opt for the latter, but end up popping a 4 wood up in the air, luckily finishing short of the pond and cluster of trees waiting for any errant shots on the corner of the dogleg. With trees closely in front, all I can do is hit a pitching wedge back to the fairway over the corner. Leaving around the same yardage into the green, I find the centre, but still with some work to do. A good lag putt again, sees me tapping in for my bogey 5.

 

17 continues the dogleg par 4 theme, but this time to the left, with a bunker and trees awaiting on the corner. I opt for the driver, but end up down the left hand side again shut off by the trees. A pitch out leaves me around 90 odd yards to the green. A nice lofted wedge pin high sees me with a good attempt at the par putt, but that slides by and it’s another bogey 5 on the card.

 

The 18th is, you guessed it, another dogleg par 4 to the right. The tee shot doesn’t require too much shape at all, just correct club selection to ensure you are not cut off by trees, or go through the fairway. The 5 iron for safety policy is out again, but as occasionally happens, it doesn’t work out, hooking it into the left rough. I still have a shot to the green from the 2nd cut, just longer in than I would like to what is a short hole! I manage to get my approach close to the green, but it is gobbled up by the small pot bunker front left. A nice out again sees me with a chance for the par save, but I am unable to convert and finish with a bogey 5, for a 49 on the back nine and a disappointing 94 (+23) total.

 


In summary, I really enjoyed Pyecombe Golf Club and the really interesting layout. I have a definite preference towards the front 9, which has some fantastic, challenging holes. The back 9 feels a little bit more of a slog (particularly the walk up the hill on 11!), but it provides some fantastic views over the surrounding countryside of the South Downs. The course was in really good condition (as you would hope at this time of year), and I felt the £27 green fee at the weekend very fair. Again, I think it’ll be another tough course in winter when the wind is blowing, but look forward to the test! My favourite holes were the signature par 4 3rd, the dogleg right par 4 7th (despite my score!), the par 3 8th, and finally topped off with the 9th, which is a fantastic short par 5. Hopefully when I return my game will be in better shape and I’ll be able to do this course justice!

four and a half stars copy
The Sussex Golfer