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!


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.


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


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

@TheSussexGolfer ‘Dream 18’ 2019

Following on from the success of last year’s ‘Dream 18’ – a fantasy course which was a selection of my favourite holes played in Sussex to date (at the time), I have decided to repeat the task – but only using holes which I played for the first time in 2019!

The aim is to come up with a course, where holes are placed with their respective hole number from their course, which would all work together to a combined par of around 72!

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!

Front 9

#1 – 1st @ Ham Manor Golf Club – Par 4

The opening hole of this year’s ‘Dream 18’ is one which I played all the way back in February – the first at Ham Manor Golf Club. Whilst this short opening hole may look friendly on the card, a number of ditches, water hazards and an angled fairway make clubbing essential on the first shot of the day. Two conservative mid-irons and you should find the centre of the green.

#2 – 2nd @ Worthing Golf Club (Lower) – Par 4

It’s all downhill from here! From the 2nd tee on the Lower Course at Worthing Golf Club, you’re faced with a long and tough par 4, but luckily you are assisted by a downhill tee shot. Keep your drive down the left to shorten the approach into a slightly raised green. A bogey isn’t a bad score here.

#3 – 3rd @ West Sussex Golf Club – Par 4

The first of what may well be a few holes from this heathland gem, widely renowned as the best course in the county. Not being the longest of par 4’s, stay out of the heather and the gaping fairway bunkers and you should have a solid chance of hitting the green in regulation.

#4 – 4th @ Golf @ Goodwood – Par 5

The 4th at Goodwood Downs is the first of a number of challenging par 5’s on the course, winding its way along the valley. Keep your drive left to maximise distance and set up the best angle for 2nd (and 3rd!) shots into the small raised green guarded by deep bunkers well below the putting surface. Beware!

#5 – 5th @ Mannings Heath Golf Club (Waterfall) – Par 3

The first of 5 par 3’s on the card this year is the dramatic 5th from Mannings Heath (Waterfall), featuring its ‘Punchbowl’ green. The stairs are a tell-tale sign of just how steep the surrounding bank is! A fun little par 3!

#6 – 6th @ West Sussex Golf Club – Par 3

Formerly a Par 4 in a previous life, the 6th at West Sussex is now an imposing test of a par 3, involving a carry over vast swathes of heather (like many holes at West Sussex!) and a marshy area, to a narrow and well protected green. Another stunning hole where bogey isn’t always a bad score!

#7 – 7th @ Littlehampton Golf Club – Par 4

From high up on the sand dunes, you get a great view of this relatively short, but tough par 4. A fine example of links golf!

#8 – 8th @ Worthing Golf Club (Lower) – Par 5

This stunning par 5 is another hole which snakes along a dry valley on one of our county’s downland gems. Likely to be a 3 shotter for most, deep fairway bunkers and a fast two tier green mean that par is not a certainty by any stretch of the imagination here!

#9 – 9th @ Mannings Heath Golf Club (Waterfall) – Par 4

An uphill par 4 almost entirely surrounded by dense trees makes for a tough finish to the front 9 of our ‘Dream 18’. An enforced carry from the tips, and a cavernous bunker front left of the green waiting to catch anything coming up short add to the difficulty.

Back 9

#10 – 10th @ East Sussex National Golf Club (East) – Par 5

This hole really comes into its own as you get closer to the green. If you manage to get a good drive away, you may get an assist off the bank, leaving yourself a long iron in to a green which slopes from back to front. Be aware- the green is guarded by a stream and a large tree waiting to catch or repel any errant approaches. Laying up is the sensible play!

#11 – 11th @ Mannings Heath Golf Club (Waterfall) – Par 4

If you thought that 6th (West Sussex) was an intimidating tee shot, take a look at the 11th at Mannings Heath (Waterfall) from the back tees! Hitting out of a narrow chute to a dogleg fairway which runs away from you towards a water hazard, there is no margin for error here! If you do successfully find the fairway, the job isn’t complete as you still have to find the putting surface, guarded on multiple sides by water. A par 4 as tough as they come.

#12 – 12th @ West Sussex Golf Club – Par 3

Possibly one of my favourite holes I have played this year, and the start of a great stretch at West Sussex, this par 3 is long and tough hole over heather. But boy is it beautiful!

#13 – 13th @ West Sussex Golf Club – Par 4

Stood over your ball (hopefully) in the 13th fairway, your target appears as an island green amongst bunkers and characteristic seas of heather. It takes two fantastic shots to have a chance at birdie here!

#14 – 14th @ West Sussex Golf Club – Par 4

This sweeping dog leg continues a run of fantastic holes at West Sussex. From the tee, the fairway appears but a speck in a sea of heather. Cross bunkers short of the narrow green make a layup for anyone who didn’t find the fairway difficult!

#15 – 15th @ West Sussex Golf Club – Par 4

Who doesn’t love a par 3 over water?! In a dramatic change from the seas of heather, the water hazard short of the green awaits any under hit tee shots. A welcome birdie opportunity on this short par 3! 

#16 – 16th @ East Sussex National Golf Club (East) – Par 3
Another par 3 over water! Picking the correct club is the key to finding this shallow green guarded by water and three pot bunkers. Reminiscent of the 12th at Augusta!

#17 – 17th @ East Sussex National Golf Club (East) – Par 4

At nearly 450 yards from the tips, this stern test isn’t giving away par easily! A long and straight drive is required to set up a long approach over water into a relatively shallow green, surrounded by run offs. Hold your nerve and keep your ball dry!

#18 – 18th @ Mannings Heath Golf Club (Waterfall) – Par 4

Closing out the back nine on the Waterfall course and our ‘Dream 18’ for 2019 is a hole which may divide opinions, but one which I imagine has settled a lot of matches! Get a good drive away, assisted by the slope you will be left with just a wedge into the green to set up a chance at par (or better!). Get your approach wrong however and there could be a big number on the cards!


2019 Goals

photo collage_20190107_011533401-01

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+


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%


  • 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!

2018 Goals Review 01/01/2019


When reviewing my 2017 year in numbers, I decided that it would also be beneficial to set myself some goals and targets for 2018. I reviewed my progress vs these goals in May (which can be found here) and September (here).

Throughout the year, I have come to realise that the goals I set were perhaps overly optimistic due to the fact that I rarely practice and mainly play, but it is interesting to see my progress towards them regardless!

I had every intention of practicing significantly more this year, but this hasn’t gone as planned despite investing in some alignment sticks and a Swingyde! And when I say rarely practice, I can confirm that I have been to the range once this year, but I have also invested in a PuttOut training aid, which I do try to spend some time with each week!

So lets see how I managed to get on!

How many more courses in Sussex can I tick off?

One of the main purposes of this blog is to get out and try and play as many of the courses in Sussex as I can!  

  • Rounds played: 30  ⇒ 40+
    • 39.5 – So close to my goal! But an increase from last year despite spending 6 weeks away in the United States with work this summer.
  • Courses played: 20 ⇒ 25
    • 30- 23 in Sussex, 1 in Surrey, 1 in Oxfordshire, 1 in Northamptonshire, 1 in Warwickshire, and 3 in the United States!

The big one- Handicap

So this was always going to tough given my lack of practice time and the fact that I tend to play different courses week in, week out…

  • Handicap: 13.2 ⇒ 10
    • 10.4 (Playing Handicap 10) – I reached my my goal following two consecutive reductions of 0.6 after rounds of +7  in each of my last two 18 hole rounds of the year!

Fairways and Greens

I expected that these would  go hand in hand for me, and that If I had managed to get the ball in play off the tee a little more, I would hit more greens! Again, 45% across the board looked to be overly optimistic, but minor improvements nevertheless.

  • GIR %: 30.93% ⇒ 45%
    • 33.04% A slight improvement on last year, but not quite the dramatic increase as hoped! I spent a lot of the year in what I call ‘protect’ mode, where ultimately I am just trying to stay out of trouble, hitting a lot of irons and hybrids off the tee, in order to limit misses, often leaving myself longer shots into the green.
  • FIR %: 32.37 ⇒ 45%
    • 34.21%. Drastic times called for drastic measures! Towards the end of the year I switched back to my old driver and have instantly regained much needed confidence off the tee. In my last 5 rounds, my FIR % has increased from 33.05% to 42.86%.

Scoring Averages

Minor improvements across the board needed here, and I am targeting most improvement on the par 5s. Instead of always pulling the big stick, I need to learn to sometimes treat them as clear 3 shot holes, and focus on keeping the ball in play!

  • Scoring Average Par 3: 3.62 ⇒ 3.5
    • 3.56 Marginally improved from last year, but didn’t quite hit the optimistic goal. Continues to be one of the stronger points of my game; on Par 3s this year I average 44.3% GIR!
  • Scoring Average Par 4: 4.99 ⇒ 4.75
    • 4.99 Managed to hold steady with last year in the end!
  • Scoring Average Par 5: 5.91 ⇒ 5.5
    • 5.82 Slight improvement  on last year, which I am mostly putting down to better course management.
  • Scoring Average: 86.9 ⇒ 84
    • 86.76 near identical to last year again! Despite some of the low rounds (four in the seventies this year), there have been a couple of disastrous ones! 

Short Game

An area that I felt needed work, and is always the first area of my game to go when I don’t play regularly. It was also pointed out to me by my lovely lady / caddie / scorer / photographer as one of my weaknesses back in May when I was averaging 33 putts per round. 

  • Putts per Round: 32.1 ⇒ 32
    • 31.64. Since I changed putter, this number is down at 30.38 from upwards of 33 before the switch – so possibly money well spent so far as this is below my target!
  • Putts per GIR: 2.01 ⇒ 1.9
    • 1.96 As long as this number stays below two, I am making more birdies than bogies after hitting the GIR, which is good enough for me! Down to 1.9 (my goal) with the new putter, converting over 22% of birdie chances, as opposed to 13% with the old putter in the first half of the year.
  • Putts per Missed GIR: 1.68 ⇒ 1.6
    • 1.69 – Not much has changed since last year or my September update. Scrambling needs to be a better. My chipping is often one of the weakest parts of my game, not getting the approach close enough. Something to work on! 1.64 since changing to my new flatstick.
  • 3 Putt %: 7.59% ⇒ 5.55%
    • 8.95% – Still a significant increase from last year due to some early season putting struggles.. Since reverting back to a short putter (34″), this number sits at 7.59%,vs 10.49% before, so the change has definitely helped me head in the right direction!

How did you get on against your 2018 goals? Let me know on Social Media or in the comments below!

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.

Sweetwoods Park Giveaway!


Giveaway time!

Sweetwoods Park Golf Club ( is one of my favourite new courses which I have tried this year, going straight into my Top 3 favourite courses in Sussex (Stay tuned to the blog for an updated Top 10). For those that haven’t seen- check out my review here.

They have been kind enough to offer a fantastic prize for you and 3 golf buddies to come and experience the course for yourself!

Competition is open across all forms of Social Media, and all you have to do to enter is simply:

Make sure you like/follow my page (@TheSussexGolfer) and Sweetwoods Park GC on the relevant site to be in with a chance of winning.

Tag a friend in the comments on Facebook / Instagram, or RT on Twitter.

Entries close on the 15th November, and green fee voucher is valid for 1 year. Winners will be selected from all eligible entries.

Good luck!

@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!

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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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.

@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!

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.

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.

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!

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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!

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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.

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.

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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: