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

@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!

Scorecard

2019 Goals Update (01/07/2019)

So we are now officially half way through the year, so I thought it would be a great time to look back on the goals I set at the start of the season, and see how I am getting on against those goals.

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

So let’s see how I’m getting on…

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!). If you are a member / employee at any of the courses I haven’t played- get in touch, and lets sort something out!

  • Rounds played: Target 40+ : Current 22
  • Courses played: Target 25+ : Current 21

Most definitely on track with this one!

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 : Current 10.7

Slightly missing this goal at this stage, Although I have been as low as 9.4 (Playing 9) back in February, I am now at 10.7 (Playing 11) at the halfway stage in the year. I have been happy with my scoring in general, and happy that all of my rounds so far have been sub 90, with three rounds in the 70s.

Fairways and Greens

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!

  • GIR %: Target 40% : Current 34.85%
  • FIR %: Target 40% : Current 35.08%

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 : Current 3.56
  • Scoring Average Par 4: Target 4.85 : Current 4.77
  • Scoring Average Par 5: Target 5.7 : Current 5.61
  • Scoring Average: 86.8 ⇒ 84.7 Target 84.7 : Current 83.27

22 Rounds in and my Par 3 scoring average is the same as 2018, Par 4 scoring average has come down by 0.22 and Par 5 scoring average down by 0.21. 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 3.02 reduction in my scoring average. My actual reduction of just over 3.5 would suggest that courses I have been playing have had a par of less than 70.

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 : Current 31.91
  • Putts per GIR: Target <1.95 : Current 2.02
  • Putts per Missed GIR: Target 1.6 : Current 1.64
  • 3 Putt %: Target 5.55% : Current 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!

No luck here! With just the one cut to the handicap (back in February), and 3 rounds in the 70s spaced out (one every 2 months), I have not managed to hit either of the first two. I’m still very keen to treat myself to somewhere special for my 30th, which is coming up in the second half of the year… watch this space!

2018 Goals

Maker:S,Date:2017-9-6,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

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’ll be the first to admit they are very optimistic given the fact that I don’t tend to practice too much and prefer to be out on the course playing!

In the below list, I have included by 2017 numbers for reference, so that you can see just how much I need to improve some areas!

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! I felt that playing 30 rounds across 20 courses last year was a good effort, and I’m hoping if I can squeeze another 10 rounds in this year I’ll hopefully play around 25 or so courses.

  • Rounds played: 30  ⇒ 40+
  • Courses played: 20 ⇒ 25

The big one- Handicap

So I think that this one is going to be a tough ask given my lack of practice time, and playing different courses week in, week out. But hey, gotta aim high!

  • Handicap: 13.2 ⇒ 10

Fairways and Greens

I think that these could well go hand in hand for me, and if I can manage to get the ball in play off the tee a little more, hopefully the greens should follow! Again, 45% might be optimistic, but lets work towards it.

  • GIR %: 30.93% ⇒ 45%
  • FIR %: 32.37 ⇒ 45%

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
  • Scoring Average Par 4: 4.99 ⇒ 4.75
  • Scoring Average Par 5: 5.91 ⇒ 5.5
  • Scoring Average: 86.9 ⇒ 84

Short Game

An area that I feel needs work, and is always the first area of my game to go when i don’t play regularly. If I can hit more greens, I think it will be difficult to expect my Putts per Round to come down as in theory, proximity to the hole is likely to be greater, so I think targeting minor improvements, hopefully holing more birdie putts than 3 putts, and keeping the 3 putts to less than 1 per round on average would be a big step!

  • Putts per Round: 32.1 ⇒ 32
  • Putts per GIR: 2.01 ⇒ 1.9
  • Putts per Missed GIR: 1.68 ⇒ 1.6
  • 3 Putt %: 7.59% ⇒ 5.55%

 

I would love to hear your 2018 goals? Get in contact below or across any of my social media platforms!

 

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

 

Lewes Golf Club – Course Review

Course Review- Lewes Golf Club (http://www.lewesgolfclub.co.uk/)

Date: 08/07/2017

Time: 16:50pm

Conditions: Clear, Calm, Warm.



Green Fee: £15.00

Range: Practice Facility (I think range balls also available- can anyone confirm?)



Par: 71

Tees: Yellow

Yards: 5929

Score: 89

After being treated to another fantastic week of summer weather, I decided to venture out to Lewes Golf Club for a twilight round on Saturday afternoon, for what would be my first time visiting the course. I managed to book my tee time through their handy online booking system, and the round set me back £15, which is good value in my book!

 

Lewes Golf Club is situated high up on the downs overlooking the town, and can be quite hard to find (in my opinion) if you do not know where it is. Situated up the tiny single track road that is Chapel Hill, the course definitely feels like one that the locals are trying to keep for themselves!

 

Once arrived, you notice that despite driving up one of the steepest access roads to a golf course that I have seen, the course continues to rise up into the downs. I checked in with the pro before heading out, who said the course was fairly quiet, which I was surprised at given the weather and the very reasonably priced twilight green fee.

 

I still remain unclear with regards to the full extent of the practice facilities, but there is definitely a net and practice putting green which I used before going out, as well as a small practice ground tucked away down beside the 18th. The practice green was rolling fast and true, and was a good insight as to what to expect during the round.

 

As mentioned earlier, the first thing you notice once on the first tee is that somehow, the course continues to rise up the Downs. The first hole starts with an uphill dogleg right par 4 of around 330 yards from the yellow tees, with the fairway sloping from right to left- not setting up well for the draw! A reasonably struck hybrid to start the day has me clinging on to the left side of the fairway after roll, with 125 yards to the flag. Straight uphill to a two-tier green (which isn’t all that easy to see from the fairway), I strike a crisp 9 iron up the hill, which manages to work its way to the rear upper tier, 15ft from where the flag is conveniently located. My first good attempt at birdie of the day slides by, and I tap in for my regulation par.

 

A stroll back down the hill to the 2nd tee means the next tee shot is again straight up the hill on this 370 yard par 4, slightly blind, but assisted by a marker post in the middle of the fairway. A perfectly positioned drive with my 4 wood directly at said marker post, leaving only 123 yards in. This time, opting for pitching wedge, I again safely find the putting surface before 2 putting for par.

 

The 3rd is a tricky hole for those who haven’t played the course before. From the tee, this 310 yard par 4 looks like it is going to be large dogleg with the slope, but it actually plays fairly straight. Two cross bunkers about 180-190 yards off the tee are most definitely in play, but are not overly visible from the tee. Needless to say, I managed to find one of them with my 6 iron ‘for safety’, before having to splash out due to a high lip and a decent amount of sand. A short wedge approach to the green should have set me up for nothing worse than a bogey, however my 77 yard approach rolled over the back and dropped off slightly down a slope. This added complexity to the next shot, which I was unable to get close enough proximity to the hole, and I ended up 2 putting for double bogey.

 

The 4th is a short uphill par 3 of only 127 yards from the yellow tees, and is definitely a hole that you can score nearly any number! Just a pitching wedge from the tee for me, which finds the rear fringe, leaving a putt back down the hill. I misread the speed of the putt and run it way past the hole. Coming back up the slope, I leave my putt short, before missing the mid range putt and tapping in for a poor 5.

 

The 5th is a picturesque par 4 with views over the rolling South Downs away to the right of the fairway. With the fairway sloping severely from left to right towards the valley and the hole only being 335 yards, I try and hit my 7 wood down the left hand side to shape back to the middle, unfortunately I turn it over a little too much and land in the left rough, where unfortunately was where it stuck! The green is cut into the slope, and with a short iron in hand I fancied my chances of finding the green. Unfortunately, my approach landed on the downslope just left of the green, shooting through the back. I used the same slope to my advantage with my next shot, playing my pitch into the bank before it rolled back down onto the green to leave myself 10ft for my par. The putt slid just by and I tapped in for my bogey.

 

6 is another short uphill par three, of similar yardage to the 4th. Having gone long on the previous par 3, I clubbed down to my gap wedge. Safely finding the green, this time a judged the first putt better, and then tapped in for par.

 

The 7th follows a similar trend to the 5th hole, with the fairway sloping largely from left to right, but this hole is extended to a par 5 at just over 500 yards. With a 4 wood off the tee for safety, I again find the left rough and stay in it. It isn’t all bad news as the ball sat up lovely, and I found a surprisingly flat lie which always helps the swing! At approximately 260 yards out, I boldly opt for only a 7 wood, hoping to get the ball up in the air and get some assistance from the slight tailwind, before getting some more help from the firm fairways that slope gently down towards the hole. I nearly pull off the plan, turning it over slightly too much and finishing just left of the green, after getting a kick left to avoid the greenside bunker. A nicely played pitch over the bunker leaves me 8ft for my birdie, but another makeable putt missed and I tap in for back to back pars. It is very easy to get distracted from the golf for a few minutes whilst on the 7th green and walking towards the 8th tee with near 360° views across the downs and the Weald.

 

The 8th is the hardest hole on the course at stroke index one. Playing 368 yards back uphill to one of the highest points on the course, and into the wind, it is important to get a good drive away. A 4 wood off the tee to try and find the fairway without getting distracted from the views is the plan, and is executed, despite catching it slightly low on the face, which probably helped to keep it below the wind a little. With 170 yards or so into the green, I try to force a 5 iron uphill into the wind, as a felt hybrid would be too much club. After the deliberation over what club to hit, I end up catching my 5 iron heavy, leaving myself 50 yards short of the green. A solid pitch up the slope over the greenside bunker unfortunately runs through the green, but a nice lag putt from the fringe sees me tapping in for bogey.

 

The 9th is another hole where a course map or yardage book would be handy! A 515 yard par 5 from the yellows I found it unclear as to what line to hit from the tee, but after having consulted my laser rangefinder, I decided to hit driver and try and get myself in the best position possible. Considering it was it was its first outing today, it behaved, finding the centre of the fairway just short of the down slope. 240 yards out, downhill, I couldn’t resist having a go at the green, but ended up snap hooking it down the hill to the left, narrowly avoiding the long rough on the far side of the 10th fairway (about 90 yards left of the green!). With an interesting approach back to the green, I hit what I thought was a decent lofted wedge onto the green, but unfortunately it just ran through the far side and onto the fringe, and a chance to save par. Unfortunately that chance doesn’t last long, misreading both the line and the speed with not only my putt from the fringe, but also my first putt once on the green, leaving myself a tricky attempt for bogey. I was unable to convert the bogey attempt and have to settle for double, to close out the front 9 at 44 (+8).

 

The back 9 starts with a short par 4 back up the hill. I opt for driver off the tee after the last tee shot, but end up catching it low on the face pushing it just right of the fairway, with the upslope taking all of the distance out of it. Still with around 130 yards uphill to the green, I opt for a 9 iron, and my shot bounces about 1 yard left of where I would get a friendly bounce from the bank left of the green, and instead stays perched on top leaving myself short sided. A brave putt from on top of the hill, using the rough on the down slope of the bank to slow the ball down, nestles closely to the hole for a tap in par.

 

The 11th is an uphill dogleg right par 4, where longer hitters can cut the corner and go towards the sunken green, for me, I opt to attempt to play a safe shot with a 6 iron off the tee to leave myself a wedge or short iron into the green. I push my tee shot a little and end up close to the small trees without a direct line to the flag. From the right of the fairway, the slope feeds from the left and also downhill towards the green, so a low punch out left is the play. I manage to advance my punch shot forward enough and far enough left to catch the slope and feed the ball round and down onto the green, finishing pin high 20 foot left of the flag. The birdie attempt was good, but unfortunately just burnt the edge, leaving a short put back for a well recovered par from the trees.

 

The 12th tee is quite a walk away, but it well worth it, with fantastic views over the 180 yard par 3 and the countryside beyond. The hole itself is a tricky par 3, the longest on the course, with a steep drop off just left of the green. The ideal shot into the green is a high, soft landing fade, but without that in my locker I’m left trying to find the green with a straight 6 iron. I turn the ball over a touch and end up rolling off the left hand side of the green to the rough about 5ft below the putting surface. A delicate flop up onto the green sets up the par putt, but another slides by and another bogey ends up on the card.

 

13 is another attractive hole, with possibly my favourite view on the course. However once you start to look at the hole rather than the view, you realise just how tight the landing area is for the tee shot is. At only 348 yards from the yellow tee, the hole isn’t too long, and the line from the tee narrows the further the drive goes.  I took a 4 wood from the tee, reaching the narrowest point, but hitting through the safe landing area into the trees guarding the left side of the fairway. After taking a drop out of the trees, a pitching wedge into the green bounced through the back, before I fail to manage to get my pitch close enough to the hole to save bogey, instead two putting for a 6.

 

The 14th is another par 4 back up the hill, and time to get the driver back out the bag. A high block to the right back over onto the 13th fairway makes for a challenging approach to the green, but a high, soft landing 9 iron up the hill lands on and holds the putting surface. Unfortunately I don’t back up the approach with the putting, taking 3 to get home for bogey.

 

I’m sure 15 is a lovely hole when played as intended, however a snap hooked drive not over one fairway, but two, has me playing the hole from an entirely different perspective. A punch out of the hedge before a 5 iron in the general direction of where I think the green is, leaves me with a 20 yard pitch over the greenside bunker to be on in 4. Safely on, 2 putts later I’m taking double without spending much time on the hole itself! There are also lovely views from this green too!

 

A walk back to the par 5, 16th tee, located right of the 15th fairway has you wondering where this hole goles! With the absence of a course map or yardage booklet, all you can do is aim for the marker post, which involves hitting over the 15th, and hope! A dogleg right of 492 yards, with the approach downhill, this is a reachable in two par 5 for some of the longer hitters. I opt to punch my second shot down the fairway with a hybrid hoping to leave a simple wedge into the green, but again turn it over a little too much and find the left rough. Approaching the green with a lofted wedge, I safely find it, but my 4th 3 putt of the day sees me make bogey.

 

17 should be a fairly simple par 3 back up the hill, of just shy of 150 yards, however a heavy 8 iron that I was trying to force comes up short, before again I fail to find the green with the simple pitch, before 2 putting for double.

The 18th is another attractive hole from the tee, back towards the clubhouse and the countryside beyond, and only marginally let down due to the fact it runs alongside the driving range (which is all out of bounds). Some of this out of bounds is protected by big gorse bushes which you don’t want to go near, but either way it is likely to cost you a shot, as I found out the hard way by putting my drive into the middle of the of them! A drop from there has me hitting my 3rd as my approach shot into a green overlooked by the clubhouse and its patrons. Added pressure to find the green since I had an audience led to a sensible approach towards the green, finding the left fringe. In an effort to keep the onlooking spectators happy, I had a run at the putt for par from the fringe, but unfortunately saw it break away from the hole towards the tier on the green, where half of the crowd were willing it to go down and half for it to stay up! Luckily it stayed up, and I had 10ft uphill for my bogey. Silence amongst the crowd as I hit a solid putt, finding the centre of the cup which led to cheers from the crowd to finish off the day with a 5, and close out the back 9 with a 45 (+10), for a grand total of 89 (+18).

 


In summary, Lewes Golf Club is a really interesting course with a great mix of holes, backed up by fantastic views over the surrounding countryside of the South Downs and the Weald. The course was in really good condition, and for a £15 twilight rate at weekends, I really cannot fault it. I imagine the course can play pretty tough in winter as it really is exposed from all directions in some places, but in the summer this is a benefit, providing fantastic views on most holes. I really loved the stretch of holes 7 through 9 overlooking the Weald, as well as the beautiful par 3 12th and the challenging par 4 13th, I look forward to returning to see how a bit of course knowledge pays off around here!

 

⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Sussex Golfer