The State of Play

So… lots has changed sine the last time I ‘spoke’ to you! I’ll begin with some happy news – just over a month ago on the 18th March, we were lucky enough to welcome our son into the world. After much deliberation, and all of the names of the World’s Top 50 ranking golfers were ruled out by my fiancée, we settled on the name William!

5 days later, the unthinkable happened. Life as we know it changed, and we went into survival mode. Countrywide lock down measures were put in place as a result of COVID-19 which would see the closures of Schools, Pubs, Offices and well… Golf Courses among other businesses.

Perhaps most frustratingly for many golfers, the lock down has coincided with the weather turning, with wall to wall sunshine and blue skies for the most part providing a pleasant change to the wet weather of the previous months. Whilst the courses remain closed, greenkeepers up and down the country carrying out essential maintenance to the courses have been teasing us with snippets of how beautiful our courses are looking right now.

Whilst a lot of golfers have questioned whether or not courses should be reopened, ultimately long term health is most prevalent, no matter how frustrating it is. There have been plenty of fantastic ideas as to how golf courses could function and reduce the risk of transmission, and it is great to see people thinking outside the box! This is one of my favourites…

 

But what is going to be the state of play if and when they do reopen? I have to admit, I am worried. The longer that this does roll on for, the more money golf courses are losing. These places that we hold so dearly in our hearts may well be at risk of going under, and closing their doors for one final time. Now is the time that they need our help more than ever.

So, what can we do?

  • Membership – If you are fortunate enough to be a member, keep paying your member’s dues. Some courses will be providing offers or free months at the end to those that have supported them through tough times.
  • Support your pro – If you’re still making purchases to get your golf fix, many pros are still operating online or over the phone, and some have some great deals about! Drop them a line and see how they can help before you head to an online retailer.
  • Look out for other initiatives your club may be running – some are offering a meal delivery service from the kitchens, online lessons, book a function.
  • Explore a couple of new courses – once restrictions are lifted, get out and play a new course with a visitor green fee. Don’t forget to stop in the clubhouse afterwards for a bite to eat and a drink and make a day of it!
  • Support their Social Media pages – like and share their posts, and help them to grow their audiences.
  • Support other independent brands / small businesses – they are most affected in times like these. A little can go a long way!

The last thing that I would want to see is any of our courses having to close due to this. I would like to extend an offer to all clubs across the county for a free promotional post across my social media accounts. Reach out to me on Social Media or email thesussexgolfer@gmail.com and we can sort something out! It is the least I can do in these crazy times to help try and send a few new customers your way.

Stay safe.

The Sussex Golfer

My Favourite Courses in Sussex (February 2020 Update)

Another year on from my most recent ‘Top 10’ of my favourite courses in Sussex, and I sit here on a blustery Saturday afternoon looking out of the window, bemoaning the poor weather we have had so far this year which has prevented me from making it out onto the course yet. As mentioned previously, it’s not the only reason… but it is a reason nevertheless!

Within 2019, I was fortunate enough to play some fantastic courses for the first time, working my way through 6 of the 10 in my Wish List of courses that I was most looking forward to playing, and let me tell you… a number of them delivered beyond expectations.

One of the main things that I have taken away from the courses played in 2019 is that there really is something for everyone in Sussex. We are fortunate enough to be in a county that can offer Downland, Heathland, Parkland and links golf all within a 30 minute drive.

I have now played 52 courses across the county, which by my calculations is over two thirds… however it is mostly likely that a certain little bundle of joy arriving in March is likely to prevent the remaining 20 or so being ticked off in 2020. The quest to tick off all of the courses in Sussex goes on!

So let’s get started with the Top 10! As before, the list ranks the courses which I have enjoyed playing the most, but value and all round experience are also very important to me. My ‘Wish List’ is still alive and kicking, still with plenty of courses which could challenge to be in the Top 10 next year!

As always, I would love to know your thoughts! If you have any further recommendations, or can help me in ticking off some on the Wish List, get in touch through the comments section or on Social Media.

Date: 22/02/2020

Top 10 Favourite Courses I’ve Played in Sussex

1. West Sussex Golf Club

A course which I would love to play every week. A traditional club if ever there was one, but these traditions just add to the aura of the place. One of the first courses I have played where hole after hole is memorable, and with the heather in bloom the course is stunning. It is not cheap – but it is definitely one of the courses you have to play at least once. Perfect to treat yourself for a special occasion!

2. Goodwood Golf Club – Downs Course

At Goodwood, it is all about the experience. From pulling into the walled car park (which is bound to be full of expensive sporty numbers), to sipping on a local beer in The Kennels after your round everything feels luxurious. But most importantly the 18 holes in the middle (and use of their classic ‘Woody’ buggies if your’re lucky) provide a standout Downland experience.

3. Seaford Head Golf Club

Still arguably the best value course in the county. A thoroughly enjoyable experience which culminates in the one of the a kind 18th, with its ~60m elevation change from tee to green. Other parts of the course offer spectacular views over the iconcic Sussex coastline of the Seven Sisters.

4. Sweetwoods Park Golf Club

A beautiful parkland course, set within the High Weald on the borders of Kent and Sussex. Featuring a number of valleys, lakes, mature trees, monuments and statues, you would be forgiven for thinking that you were wandering around National Trust owned gardens, but the sweeping doglegs, manicured fairways and greens give away it’s true purpose! Fantastic value also, with plenty of tee time deals.

5. Piltdown Golf Club

A course that has grown on me significantly within 2019, and is now firmly established within my Top 10. This traditional Heathland gem has no bunkers, but makes up for it with plenty of strategically placed heather. Play late in August with the heather in full bloom to enjoy it in all its beautiful purple hues.

6. East Sussex National Golf Club – East Course

Of the two courses at the fantastic venue near Uckfield, my preference of is the East. For a course only 30 years or so old, it feels very mature with tall trees, thick grown in rough, and water coming into play on a number of holes. A championship length course (and former host of the European Open), expect a tough test!

7. Worthing Golf Club – Lower Course

With 36 holes on offer, as well as extensive practice facilities and a driving range, Worthing Golf Club has to rank as one of the best golfing facilities in the county. The Lower Course, the longer of the two, offers some of the best downland golf in the county, with plenty of spectacular holes from raised tee boxes, and views out to the Rampion Wind Farm. A well bunkered layout, and some of the finest greens I have played in the county contribute to a memorable experience.

8. Willingdon Golf Club

Fantastic course nestled amongst the South Downs north-west of Eastbourne, which provide a spectacular backdrop to a number of holes. Rolling fairways ensure lots of challenging lies, and trademark Dr Alistair MacKenzie two tiered greens (who later went on to design Augusta National amongst many others!), help to provide plenty of difficulty and protection. A hidden gem.

9. Copthorne Golf Club

A bit of a ‘hidden gem’ for me. This Heathland classic winds its way through Copthorne Common, with holes framed perfectly by rows of trees, and intersected with many ditches to keep the golfer on their toes. A flat and easy walk, don’t expect ranging views over the Sussex countryside, but expect a thoroughly enjoyable round at a challenging, yet fun course, in excellent condition.

10. Crowborough Beacon Golf Club

This heathland classic, situated at one of the highest points in Sussex, offers extensive views across the Weald and beyond, and has a fantastic mix of holes from short par 3s, to risk reward par 4s, to long and tight dogleg par 5s. The elevation changes can make the course a tough walk, but the views more than make up for it! Don’t forget to bring your camera!

Wish List

  1. Rye Golf Club
  2. Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club – Old Course
  3. Cowdray Park Golf Club
  4. Nevill Golf Club
  5. Cooden Beach Golf Club
  6. Bognor Regis Golf Club
  7. Chichester Golf Club
  8. Holtye Golf Club
  9. Sedlescome Golf Club
  10. Highwoods Golf Club

– The Sussex Golfer

Creating a Community #SussexGolf

One month into 2020 and I’m still yet to head out on the links. Whilst it can largely be blamed on the weather, there has probably been a couple of opportunities missed so far, and I have been limited to 2 hours on a simulator. But you know what… I’m okay with it!

2020 is set to be a defining year in my life – the year I become a father! One of the most exciting moments I could ever wish for. In little over a month from now, our little baby boy will be here and everything will change, and I am already cherishing every kick and wiggle in Mummy’s tummy! Things which seemed important before will pale into insignificance.

So as you can imagine – golf will be taking a backseat this year. Does this mean the end of The Sussex Golfer? Not by any stretch of the imagination!

In fact… it is only the beginning. And this is where you can help!

So how can you get involved? Whilst I won’t be able to be out there on the course every weekend come wind, rain or shine, I’ll be keeping an eye out for your reviews, pictures and videos across Social Media!

Each month – I will be sharing some of my favourite images and posts from your experiences of courses across the county, with the aim of letting golfers across Sussex know which courses are in great shape and playing well. If you have a Charity day you’re looking to increase exposure for, get in touch!

So join the community! Get tagging me (@thesussexgolfer) in your posts, or use the hashtag #SussexGolf.

Golf Clubs – don’t forget that I still have plenty of options to help support you with your Social Media or advertising needs! Just head to my services page to find out more. Want to spread the word about tee time deals, membership options or just what your course has to offer? Let me know!

See you on the course!

@TheSussexGolfer

2019 Year In Numbers

One of my favourite things to do at the end of the season is to take a deep dive into the numbers which have made up my year. I felt that 2019 was one of my more consistent seasons to date, which came from playing fairly regularly, but also from having a clear understanding of my abilities and limitations as a golfer.

Make sure you check out my Instagram for more pictures and comments on the various statistics over the coming weeks.

Overall

As you all know by now, my main aim each year is to try and play as many new courses across Sussex as I can, documenting my journey on @thesussexgolfer along the way.

One photo from each of the 36 different courses played in 2019!

Rounds Played : 43.5

Courses Played : 36

Shots Hit : 3627

Putting

As with last year, I know the below number might seem high, but when expressed as a percentage it doesn’t seem too bad. Out of the 3627 shots hit in 2019, 38.2% were putts. As always, to put this in perspective, a round in regulation would equate to 50% putts!

Putts Hit : 1385

Putts per Round : 31.83

Putts Per Hole : 1.77

The following numbers give more of a representation of how my putting actually was last year, with a putting average of less than 2 (which means I am making more birdies when hitting the green in regulation than bogies), but a 3 putt percentage of greater that 5.5%, meaning on average I am 3 putting more than once per round which needs some improvement!

Putts Per GIR : 1.96

Putters Per Missed GIR : 1.64

3 Putt Percentage : 9.6%

Fairways and Greens

Two areas which continue to need some major work if I am to take my game to the next level: FIR % and GIR %. On the whole, I have felt that I have driven the ball better than previous years, and I feel a lot more confident with my driver as a result, but the stats don’t seem to back that up! In previous years I have turned to long irons or a hybrid to try and get the ball in play, but having a 3 wood and driver as an option has meant that I am typically a lot further up the hole, even if I am just off the fairway a lot of the time! Both statistics being just over the 30% mark leaves a lot to be desired.

Average FIR% : 34.76%

Average GIR% : 34.60%

Scoring Averages

Since 2018, this is one of the areas which I use to best judge how my game is doing. Previously it has highlighted my strengths on par 3’s, and difficulties on par 4’s. This year has been no different- but it has improved from previous years.

Whilst par 4’s remain the weakest part of my game, dropping my Par 4 Scoring average by 0.18 Shots from 2018 to 2019 I believe is saving me approximately 2 shots per round, and it shows in my overall Scoring Average. The key to future improvements is going to be driving that number down closer to 4.5!

Scoring Average Par 3 : 3.55

Scoring Average Par 4 : 4.81

Scoring Average Par 5 : 5.53

Scoring Average : 83.35 (+12.72)

Hole Performance

Overall, I am happy with my performance here. It averages out over 7 pars and 1 birdie a round, which I’m fairly happy with. Unfortunately no Eagles for me in 2019!

Pars : 315 (40.23%)

Birdies : 51 (6.26%)

Eagles : 0

The important ones!

One of the main numbers people want to know when they’re talking about people’s golf games… handicap.

So, I finished 2019 with an (unofficial) handicap of 10.4, exactly what I started the year on! Given the fact that every round counts as a qualifying round for me (not having a home club, and entering all my cards online), I am happy with that, despite not managing to hit my goal of reaching single figures.

As with previous years, I have prioritized playing new courses over practice, which playing 43.5 rounds across 36 different courses shows!

I do feel that my game has become more consistent in 2019. I had a streak of 28 consecutive rounds in the 70s/80s, before 3 rounds in the 90s in the space of a week put pay to that!

Handicap : 10.4

Best Round : 74 (+2) Chartham Park GC (03/02/2019)

Worst Round : 92 (+26) Worthing Golf Club – Upper Course 05/08/2019

2019 Goals Review 31/12/2019

So that’s another year flown by! 2019 will always be a memorable one for me due to a number of things which have happened in my personal life (which we will come on to later!), but I have also managed to experience some fantastic courses along the way! As I write this on the 31st December 2019, it is a great time to look back and reflect on the goals I set at the start of the season.

For those that haven’t seen the original post- you can find that here

So… how did I do?

How many courses this year?

Unfortunately, 2019 was not the year in which I will complete my ultimate goal of playing every course in the county, but I do continue to get closer! (Check out the course map here to see how I am getting on!). Playing 42.5 rounds across 36 different courses, ultimately I smashed both of my goals I set at the start of the year!

  • Rounds played: Target 40+ : Final 42.5
  • Courses played: Target 25+ : Final 36

As the eagle eyed of you will spot- there are still a few courses across the county I am yet to get to. If you are a member / employee at any of the courses I haven’t played- get in touch, and lets sort something out!

Handicap

So I had hoped that I would be able to try and hold my handicap below 10 come the end of the season.

  • Handicap: Target 9.9 : Final 10.4

In the end, I did miss this goal, however I am still happy to have a playing handicap of 10. I managed to get as low as low as 9.4 (Playing 9) back in February, but ultimately finished the year at 10.4.

Fairways and Greens

An area which I have always felt needs work is getting the ball in play off the tee, and giving myself a decent change at hitting the green in regulation. I have tried multiple approaches over the years, from hitting a lot of irons and hybrids, and trying to sacrifice distance for the sake of accuracy, to just hitting driver or 3 wood and trying to get the ball as far up the hole as possible, which I felt more confident in doing for the second half of the season after a driver and 3 wood change in my bag.

I thought the goals I set were a little optimistic, but there are slight improvements shown from 2018… so at least we are moving in the right direction! Numbers were slightly down for the second half of the season.

  • GIR %: Target 40% : Final 34.6%
  • FIR %: Target 40% : Final 34.8%

Scoring Averages

I was aiming for minor improvements across the board here, and despite my handicap going up, I have delivered on the scoring average front, and feel much of this is down to my game being more consistent.

  • Scoring Average Par 3: Target 3.5 : Final 3.55
  • Scoring Average Par 4: Target 4.85 : Final 4.81
  • Scoring Average Par 5: Target 5.7 : Final 5.53
  • Scoring Average: 86.8 ⇒Target 84.7 : Final 83.35

In the end, my Par 3 scoring average is the essentially same as 2018 (down by 0.01), Par 4 scoring average has come down by 0.18 (and beat my target) and Par 5 scoring average down by 0.29 (again, beating my target). Multiply all of these numbers out against the assumption that the course has 4 Par 3s, 10 Par 4s and 4 par 5s, you would expect a 1.98 reduction in my scoring average. My actual reduction of 3.5 would suggest that courses I have been playing have had a par of less than 72.

Short Game

Putting was one area I targeted for improvement in 2019, but if anything, things seem to have moved slightly in the opposite direction! Whilst I know that not all of these are specifically related to the flat stick (i.e lots of it is to do with approach proximity to the hole!), I don’t feel as confident in the 6-10ft range as I used to. Something to work on!

  • Putts per Round: Target <30 : Final 32.2
  • Putts per GIR: Target <1.95 : Final 1.96
  • Putts per Missed GIR: Target 1.6 : Final 1.64
  • 3 Putt %: Target 5.55% : Final 9.6%

Whilst I haven’t managed to hit my goals in any of the 4 categories, I have managed to at least improve on my Putts per Missed GIR, which would suggest slight improvements in my chipping. I definitely feel more confident just around the greens, and hope that for the rest of the season, these numbers will continue to drop and hopefully I will hit a couple of my targets before the year is up!

Miscellaneous

  • Consecutive rounds below handicap
  • Consecutive rounds in the 70s
  • Treat myself to a round somewhere special for my 30th birthday!

Three big ticks here! Two consecutive rounds in August where the handicap came down at two fantastic heathland courses (West Sussex GC and Piltdown GC. Two consecutive rounds in the 70s were achieved back in July with a 78 at Farleigh GC (Surrey) and a 79 at Piltdown GC again. As for the somewhere special for my 30th? West Sussex was always top of the wish list… and boy did it not disappoint!

My Favourite Courses in Sussex (February 2019 Update)

Right, so it has now been a over year since I completed my last ‘Top 10’ of my favourite courses in Sussex. I’m slowly but surely working my way through them (around half way!), and I’ve found a wealth of fantastic courses, many of which offer great value to the everyday golfer who might not be so keen on taking out a membership and playing at the same place week-in, week-out.

The original list proved a little controversial to some, either based on the number I had played at the time of making the list, or the choices themselves. This year, I am going to go into a little more detail with regards to what this ‘Top 10’ is based around, and also a little more detail about each of the courses. Coming up with this short list was even tougher this year, there are so many fantastic courses that haven’t quite made the top 10.

So here goes…

Disclaimer: This ‘Top 10’ is a list of the courses that I have enjoyed most, offer the best value and all round experience, and not the courses that I feel are most likely to have the recognition of professional events, or be included within traditional magazine ‘Top 100’ lists where money is no object. This is a real list for every day golfers like you and I! Key factors for me are Enjoyment, Experience, Condition and Value for Money.

I have retained the wish list of courses that are my ‘Top 10’ which I haven’t played yet (and can’t wait to get out and experience!), and have updated to include new courses where I managed to tick a few off in the last year!

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts! 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! And don’t forget to upload your own reviews on Go&Golf!

Date: 14/02/2019

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Top 10 Favourite Courses I’ve Played in Sussex

  1. Seaford Head Golf Club

    • Excellent value, and thoroughly enjoyable experience due to the exciting mix of holes on offer. Provides the opportunity to play the one of a kind 18th hole, with its ~60m elevation change from tee to green, whilst also taking in views of the Seven Sisters from other parts of the course.
  2. Sweetwoods Park Golf Club

    • A beautiful parkland course, set within the High Weald on the borders of Kent and Sussex. Featuring a number of valleys, lakes, mature trees, monuments and statues, you would be forgiven for thinking that you were wandering around National Trust owned gardens, but the sweeping doglegs, manicured fairways and greens give away it’s true purpose! Fantastic value also, with plenty of tee time deals.
  3. Willingdon Golf Club

    • Fantastic course nestled amongst the South Downs north-west of Eastbourne, which provide a spectacular backdrop to a number of holes. Rolling fairways ensure lots of challenging lies, and trademark Dr Alistair MacKenzie two tiered greens (who later went on to design Augusta National amongst many others!), help to provide plenty of difficulty and protection. A hidden gem.
  4. Copthorne Golf Club

    • This heathland classic winds its way through Copthorne Common, with holes framed perfectly by rows of trees, and intersected with many ditches to keep the golfer on their toes. A flat and easy walk, don’t expect ranging views over the Sussex countryside, but expect a thoroughly enjoyable round at a challenging, yet fun course, in excellent condition.
  5. Crowborough Beacon Golf Club

    • Situated at one of the highest points in Sussex, this heathland layout offers extensive views across the Weald and beyond, and has a fantastic mix of holes from short par 3s, to risk reward par 4s, to long and tight dogleg par 5s. The elevation changes can make the course a tough walk, but the views more than make up for it! Don’t forget to bring your camera!
  6. Pyecombe Golf Club

    • One of my favourite courses within close proximity to Brighton, Pyecombe offers a great alternative to some of the other courses in the area. The course offers a few good birdie opportunities, but equally as many holes that can turn around and bite you!
  7. Chartham Park Golf & Country Club

    • A modern, resort style layout that still manages to ooze character and class. Whilst not the longest course, plenty of water hazards and wooded areas are positioned to punish errant shots and can soon help to rack up a score, but there are birdie opportunities out there to be taken on the true rolling greens.
  8. Dyke Golf Club

    • The standout course for me within the immediate vicinity of Brighton & Hove, offering 18 holes always in great condition due to its location up on the Downs, and views for miles across the city and out to the English Channel.
  9. Hill Barn Golf Club

    • Rising up into the South Downs National Park from the outskirts of Worthing, Hill Barn Golf Club is a fun, yet challenging course, that is in fantastic condition. Offers plenty of stunning views out to sea on a clear day, as well as a decent mix of holes. Well worth a visit!
  10. East Sussex National Golf Club – West Course

    • One of two courses at Sussex’s premier golf and leisure venue, the West Course offers a championship length, resort style course, with mature trees, plenty of hazards, and equally as many tight and challenging tee shots! The service is unlike anything else in Sussex (and very reminiscent of courses in America), which makes for a fantastic experience.

Top 10 Wish List Sussex

  1. West Sussex Golf Club
  2. Rye Golf Club
  3. Littlehampton Golf Club
  4. Goodwood Golf Club – Downs Course
  5. Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club – Old Course
  6. Mannings Heath Golf Club – Waterfall Course
  7. East Sussex National Golf Club – East Course
  8. Nevill Golf Club
  9. Cowdray Park Golf Club
  10. Worthing Golf Club – Lower Course

The Sussex Golfer

2019 Goals

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A new year, a new set of goals to achieve! After the overly optimistic approach last year, I am hoping that this years goals are slightly more achievable! Who’s going to join me on the journey!?

How many courses this year?

So I am working my way through the list of courses slowly but surely… (Check out the course map here to see how I am getting on!). I’m hoping that 2019 can be a big push towards ticking off as many of the courses as I can, and this is where you can help me! If you are a member / employee at any of the courses I haven’t played- get in touch, and lets sort something out! I’m hoping to play a similar amount of golf to last year, and if I can play those rounds over just as many different courses as last year, I hope to make a real dent and turn more of the blue and red dots orange!

  • Rounds played: 39.5 ⇒ 40+
  • Courses played: 29 ⇒ 25+

Handicap

So I’m not aiming for as big a drop last year. I’m at a realisation that playing different courses week in, week out, is never going to be beneficial to working the handicap down. If I can drop from my starting handicap of 10.4 to 9.9 at the end of the year, I’ll be happy.

  • Handicap: 10.4 ⇒ 9.9

Fairways and Greens

Still perhaps remaining optimistic here, after little to no improvement in these areas of my game last year, I have reined in the targets a little. Lets see how close we can get to 40% across the board!

  • GIR %: 33.04% ⇒ 40%
  • FIR %: 34.21 ⇒ 40%

Scoring Averages

Targeting minor improvements across the board here, having seen last year how difficult it is to drop these numbers! Based on the calculation, assuming the course has 4 par 3s, 10 par 4s and 4 par 5s, if I deliver the reduction in scoring averages, this should equal a drop in average score from 86.8 to 84.7.

  • Scoring Average Par 3: 3.56 ⇒ 3.5
  • Scoring Average Par 4: 4.99 ⇒ 4.85
  • Scoring Average Par 5: 5.82 ⇒ 5.7
  • Scoring Average: 86.8 ⇒ 84.7

Short Game

As my 2018 season progressed, and equipment changes were made, I definitely saw improvements in this area, but there is always room for more! Hoping to maintain the number of putts per GIR, (anything <2 means I am holing more birdies than 3 putting from GIR), but I would like to reduce my putts per missed GIR through improved chipping/pitching. Again, aiming to limit myself to one 3 putt per round if possible!

  • Putts per Round: 31.64 ⇒ <30
  • Putts per GIR: 1.96 ⇒ <1.95
  • Putts per Missed GIR: 1.69 ⇒ 1.6
  • 3 Putt %: 8.95% ⇒ 5.55%

Miscellaneous

  • Consecutive rounds below handicap
  • Consecutive rounds in the 70s
  • Treat myself to a round somewhere special for my 30th birthday!

What are your 2019 goals? Get in contact below or across any of my social media platforms!

Sussex Golf ‘Dream 18’

Have you ever fancied yourself as a course designer? Well here’s your chance! I’m looking to hear some of your favourite 18 holes in Sussex! Let me know across social media or in the comments below what your stand out holes are!

The aim of this was to create a Sussex Golf ‘Dream 18’. A fantasy course, combining the best holes in Sussex (within their respective hole number), all working together to a combined par of around 72!

If you’ve played all 18 holes – you can download a scorecard here! I would love to see how you’ve got on!

Dream 18 (Day 18)

#1 – 1st @ Horsham Golf & Fitness (Oaks Course) – Par 5

One of the most intimidating opening tee shots I have faced in the county, and therefore had to be first up in my Dream 18. This par 5 winds its way through the wooded opening stretch at Horsham Golf & Fitness, and requires a long and straight drive to ensure you have a chance of making par.

#2 – 2nd @ Crowborough Beacon GC- Par 4

Another imposing tee shot, especially if you have a right to left ball flight! This downhill dogleg right par 4 sets up for a fade, to set up an easier second shot in to a large green set over a large hollow.

#3 – 3rd @ Pyecombe GC – Par 4

The signature hole at Pyecombe GC is a must for the ‘Dream 18’ in my book. The dramatic elevation changes not only off the tee, but also back up the other side towards the green often leaves golfers more than happy to settle for bogey!

#4 – 4th @ Sweetwoods Park GC – Par 4 / 5

Another signature hole going straight into the ‘Dream 18’ the par 5 4th at Sweetwoods Park may be our first genuine birdie opportunity our course (from the Yellows). A solid drive down the left-hand side of the hole will catch the slope and open up the green to a long approach and a chance to hit the green under regulation. Care has to be taken though, particularly in the summer with a downhill slope short of the green which can kick the ball towards the water hazard which lines the right-hand side of the green.

#5 – 5th @ Willingdon GC – Par 3

Willingdon GC has two fantastic par 3s back to back at the 4th and 5th, and I’ve plumped for the latter, a railway sleeper surrounded gem of a short hole. What might be a touch ‘gimmicky’ for some, I love the added challenge and risk that the sleepers add, ensuring that you must be accurate with the approach to avoid your ball being catapulted in the opposite direction. A hole where nearly any score is possible!

#6 – 6th @ Crowborough Beacon GC – Par 3

Back to back par 3s on the ‘Dream 18’. I couldn’t leave out the 6th at Crowborough Beacon GC, a fantastic short hole which requires a demanding carry over a former quarry. There is room on the right to bail out for those not confident in the carry.

#7 – 7th @ Sweetwoods Park GC – Par 3

So our ‘Dream 18’ is going to have the slightly odd layout of 3 par 3s in a row, but the 7th at Sweetwoods Park is one hole sticks in my mind due to its uniqueness. Whilst only being a mid iron, the hole has the added challenge of carrying the river valley which traverses the course, and avoiding the sleeper lined bunkers guarding the front edge.

#8 – 8th @ Dale Hill GC (Woosnam) – Par 4

The stretch of holes between the 7th and 9th on the Woosnam Course at Dale Hill GC is a thoroughly enjoyable stretch of holes, all of which were considered for the ‘Dream 18’, but the hole which I have selected is the par 4 8th hole. A slight draw is required off the tee to avoid long rough which cuts in on the right-hand side, but over cooking it will leave you blocked out by a tree down the left hand side. Pin position and club selection is vital on the approach to a green which runs diagonal to hole, with the left side being guarded by a deep bunker and significant drop off.

#9 – 9th @ Pyecombe GC – Par 5

The 9th at Pyecombe GC is another genuine birdie opportunity on our ‘Dream 18’. A fairly short (and sometimes reachable) par 5, finding the fairway from the elevated tee box is critical, with the hole lined both left and right with trees and deep rough. From the fairway, a draw around the corner might find the edge of the green to set up a relatively simple up and down for birdie.

#10 – 10th @ Ashdown West GC – Par 4

Potentially overshadowed by the insanely tough par 3 11th at Ashdown West, the approach into the 10th is picturesque with the green surrounded on 3 sides by trees and ferns. Whilst the course may not have any bunkers, significant undulations and hollows short of the green are placed to add visual distraction to the approach.

#11 – 11th @ Hill Barn GC – Par 3

A toss up with the aforementioned par 3 11th at Ashdown West, the par 3 11th at Hill Barn stands out due to the fact that the green is almost entirely surrounded by bunkers (10 of them to be precise!). If you can avoid the swathes of bunkers between the tee and the green with your mid iron approach, you’ll be happy to make it out of there with a safe two putt par.

#12 – 12th @ Willingdon GC – Par 5

Driving over the 11th and the brow of a hill, despite being from an elevated tee, the shot is blind to the landing area. Get a decent drive away down the left hand side and you have an outside chance of getting on in two, but most will settle for 3. Once on the green, the hole doesn’t get any easier, with undulations similar to those found at Augusta National (which course architect Dr Alistair MacKenzie was also responsible for!). A fantastic par 5!

#13 – 13th @ Lewes GC – Par 4

With the same picturesque views found on the 12th tee at Lewes, this tricky par 4 with its narrow landing area off the tee, is not only beautiful, but also deadly (to the scorecard!). Keep your tee shot to the right hand side of the fairway in order to leave a line into a tough green which slopes away from you.

#14 – 14th @ Ruspser GC – Par 4

The 14th at Rusper GC would not look out of place on many courses of far higher ilk. A long and demanding par 4 requiring two carries over water, firstly to the sloping and tree lined fairway, and secondly, the tough to judge downhill approach into the narrow green guarded by a pond short and right.

#15 – 15th @ East Sussex National (West) – Par 4

Possibly the hardest one for me to pick out of the 18, but after much deliberation (other alternatives being Lewes, Slinfold, West Hove and Ashdown West) I plumped for the 15th on the West Course at East Sussex National. After the brute of the 14th hole at ESN, the 15th seems relatively easy in comparison, but leave yourself the wrong angle into the flag and you can leave yourself with a tricky up and down.

#16 – 16th @ Dyke GC – Par 4

Whilst not being the most visually attractive hole on the course (of which there are many), this long par 4 may well be the most challenging. Two decent shots and you have a chance of hitting the green in regulation, but it could well take you more than two to get down from here if you leave yourself on the wrong level of this massive two-tier green.

#17 – 17th @ Cottesmore GC (Griffin) – Par 3

Whilst not quite on a par with some of the other par 3 17th holes over water around the world (TPC Sawgrass!), it felt like the perfect hole to lead us into the final stretch. Whilst it faced stiff competition from the 17th at Sweetwoods Park GC and The Dyke GC, the 17th on the Griffin course at Cottesmore GC just edges it for me, due to the added difficulty of the green running diagonally to the hole.

#18 – 18th @ Seaford Head GC – Par 5

And what better way to finish it all off than the spectacular 18th at Seaford Head GC? With the ~60m elevation change between tee and green, there are few holes in the county that can provide the same thrill as you get when taking your tee shot on 18. This par 5 plays substantially shorter due to the elevation change, and therefore is a great chance to finish with a birdie.

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

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  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