10 of the Best - Golf Courses in Sussex
Sussex boasts some of the most beautiful rural landscapes in England, and it is also home to some of the most exclusive golf clubs in the land, one or two of which are almost impossible to play unless you are with a member or you find the secretary in a very good mood. In selecting 10 of the best, we found courses that offer amazing value for money, set amid breathtaking scenery. We particularly commend Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club. Rye Old is a sensational course but it is so difficult to get a game there that we have included it in the 'worth a special mention' category - otherwise it would figure high on this list.
West Sussex Golf Club
- Green fee £95, winter £80
- Par 70, 6,351 yards,
West Sussex is a fantastic course and proof positive that you don’t need to have a layout that measures more than 7,000 yards for it to be one of the best – West Sussex measures just 6,351 yards from the championship tees and is a par 68 that features five par threes and a solitary par five, the first. The opening hole measures 485 yards and is a gentle dogleg with heather to be cleared from the tee and bunkers to be avoided on the left. Two bunkers short of the green await the second shot. The fifth is a 158-yard par three with a sea of heather between the tee and the green, which slops from back to front and right to left and is protected by three deep traps. The 14th, at 458 yards, is a fantastic hole. Once more, you need to clear the heather to reach the fairway, with gorse to the right, trees to the left and fairway bunkers 100 yards short of the putting surface. The green is long and narrow. West Sussex finishes with a 438-yard par four. The key here is to find the right position from the tee, with punishing bunkers surrounded by heather to be avoided. The approach is played to a long, narrow green surrounded by bunkers, heather and bushes.
East Sussex National (West Course)
- Green fee £40
- Par 72, 7,154 yards, parkland
There are two courses at East Sussex National – the East and West. The East has hosted the European Open, but we think that the West is a more enjoyable experience. The course features large undulating greens. The fourth hole is 395 yards with a blind drive and a fairway carving through an avenue of trees to a green guarded by four formidable bunkers. The eighth is a 149-yard par three that looks simple enough but the firm, sloping green is difficult to hold, with rubbish to the right and a popular bunker to the left. The 13th is a great short hole, measuring 194 yards, with water to the left and a huge putting surface. The 17th, measuring 450 yards, requires a strategic approach. It features plenty of water, including a lake in the middle of fairway that can be reached from the forward tee. The approach is played to another large, elevated green.
Littlehampton Golf Club
- Green fee 38, winter £28
- Par 70, 6,226 yards, links
Littlehampton was founded in 1889 and is the only true links course in West Sussex. The first hole is 426 yards, with gorse left and right. It is a tough hole if played into the prevailing wind but find the fairway and the approach is played to a long green guarded by two deep bunkers. Slopes around the green mean your golf ball can kick off. The seventh is 381 yards, with out of bounds and the beach on the left – ensure you miss the bunker on the left side of the fairway. The 13th, at 375 yards, has a stream running all the way down the left side, with an approach to a bunker protected by four bunkers. The 17th is a 505-yard par five which, with the wind behind, can easily be reached in two. Bunkers on the left have to be avoided from the tee, and the green is guarded by water and sand. The 18th is 404 yards, with bunkers and out of bounds to the right and an approach to the biggest green on the course.
Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club
- Green fee £95, November-April £65
- Par 68, 5,606 yards, parkland
So here's the thing about the famous West Course at Royal Ashdown – it does not feature any bunkers. Not a single one. And it is only 5,606 yards long. But heather, trees, narrow fairways, hollows and streams more than make up for the absence of sand, so if you think you are going to come here and have an easy ride then you had better think again. Here's another surprise – the fairways are never fertilised or watered, so in dry periods it is a bit like playing a links, where you will find tight lies and a need to play bump and run shots aplenty. The key to scoring well here is to put your ball in the right position from the tee and, most importantly, on the greens in order to avoid leaving yourself a series of horrible, knee-trembling downhill putts. It is also vital to steer clear of the heather in August and September.
Crowborough Beacon GC
- Green fees: £45 (twilight and off-peak deals available); £40, November 1-March 31
- Par 71, 6,319 yards, parkland
Crowborough is located at the highest point in Sussex and affords wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. It is a cliche, we know, but this is a relatively undiscovered gem. Crowborough measures just 6,319 yards from the back tees and the longest hole is only 507 yards, but don't think you will turn up here and tear the course to shreds. The fairways are narrow, so you might be advised to leave your driver in the boot of your car because if you miss the short stuff you are going to run up some big numbers. It is also great value for money.
Seaford Golf Club
- Green fee £25
- Par 69, 6,546 yards, heathland
Seaford was designed in 1907 by the legendary JH Taylor. It overlooks the English Channel and offers great views across the South Downs. The second hole, at 436 yards, is one of the toughest on the course, with lots of gorse ready to swallow up any wayward tee shot. The fairway slopes from left to right, so don’t slice your drive. The 446-yard eighth is another formidable hole, with bunkers in the middle of the fairway and, once again, lots of gorse to be avoided. The approach is to a long, undulated green. The 15th is formidable par three, measuring 221 yards. When you stand on the tee, the green appears to be protected by two bunkers, but they are actually some way short of the putting surface – the ideal tee shot is to clear the bunkers by a few yards, from where the ball will run on to the green. The 18th is 399 yards – when you stand on the tee you can see the green sitting in front of the clubhouse. A copse of trees to the left of the green is your aim line, with a fairway bunker on the left, gorse and trees all to be avoided.
Piltdown Golf Club
- Green fee £40
- Par 68, 6,076 yards, heathland
More than £400,000 has been spent on improving what was already a super course and also boasts a thriving academy. It is a beautiful layout, featuring lots of heather and trees. The second hole is the longest at Piltdown, measuring 522 yards. Rough and heather on the right mean the drive should favour the left side. The green is protected by heather banks, trees and rough and slopes from left to right. The 397-yard par four eighth features a blind drive, with trees, gorse and heather on either side of the fairway. There is out of bounds to the left of green a gulley to the right. The 15th is a downhill 158-yard par three played over heather to a green surrounded by yet more heather and grassy swales. The 18th is another par three, measuring 187 yards, played downhill to a two-tier green.
Mannings Heath Golf Club
- Green fee £17.50
- Par 72, 6,683 yards, parkland
There are two Mannings Heath courses set in 500 acres – the Waterfall and the Kingfisher. They share a magnificent 17th century clubhouse. It is the Kingfisher, established in 1905, that makes our list. The first hole measures 345 yards and features an elevated tee, requiring a long and accurate drive over a wooded valley – a great birdie opportunity. The second is another short par four, this time measuring 299 yards, and providing a chance for another three. The fifth is a 184-yard par three featuring a punchbowl green – go left and you will be out of bounds. There is no margin for error. The 10th is 179 yards, with the waterfall from which the course gets its name to the right of the green. Gary Player describes the 11th hole as one of his all-time favourites. It only measures 369 yards, but the fairway slopes from right to left, and a stream runs along the left side and round to the back of the green, with trees to the right.
Sweetswood Park Golf Club
- Green fee £27
- Par 71, 6,515 yards, parkland
Sweetswood Park is a beautiful parkland course that features plenty of lakes and water hazards, trees and bunkers, and you can enjoy 18 holes here for just £27, which represents sensational value for money. The opening hole measures 407 yards, and is a tough starter. It is a tree-lined dog leg – you should aim left, which will leave you with an approach to a raised, sloping green protected by a punishing bunker on the front left. The 11th, at 437 yards, is another tough par four which dog legs right to left – go too far right off the tee and you will struggle to find your ball. The 545-yard 14th is the most difficult hole on the course, requiring a big drive to clear a ditch. Do that successfully and the hole dog legs left, with plenty of trees and a stream to be avoided. Avoid all of that and you then face an approach to a green protected by water.
Copthorne Golf Club
- Green fee £30
- Par 72, 6,654 yards
Copthorne was designed by James Braid and is one of his best – and that is high praise indeed. The second is a 520-yard par five, a dog leg to the left usually played into the wind. there is dead ground in front of the green and out of bounds close to the left of the green. The seventh is a 185-yard par three guarded by beech and yew trees. There is a ditch across the hole some 40 yards short of the green and two well placed bunkers guard a large two tiered green. The 13th measures 529 yards and features a tree-lined fairway requiring accuracy from the tee. The trees narrow at about 120 yards from the green, with an approach to an elevated green. The 18th is 386 yards. The tee shot has to clear heather and stay between the rows of Scots Pines which line the fairway. Be sure to take enough club on the second shot to allow for the rise in the ground but out of bounds lies in wait right or beyond the green.
And worth a special mention...
- Green fee £125, foursomes £60 per person
- Par 68, 6,300 yards, links
Rye does not allow threeball or fourball play and is a private club, so unless you get a member to introduce you, the chances of playing here are slim. And the course insists that men wear a jacket, shirt and tie in the bar and dining room after 11am. However, the course is a little bit special and requires the full range of shot making if you are to have a chance of scoring well. It was designed by Harry Colt in 1894 and is subject to sea breezes that only add to the difficulty. Rye is a traditional links with many holes measuring more than 400 yards, but well placed bunkers, undulating fairways, dunes and rough mean that it often makes sense to leave the driver in the bag. The five par threes all have elevated greens – when the wind blows, hitting those surfaces provides the ultimate challenge.