Crowborough Beacon Golf Club is an undulating heathland delight. The course is laid out on the southern slopes of the East Sussex High Weald, 800ft above sea level, affording panoramic views of the South Downs.
Golf at Crowborough began modestly in 1895, with nine holes laid out simply on the Alchorne estate. In 1905, the course was extended to 18 holes. Can anyone answer the elementary question as to who designed the course? Or perhaps we should assign Sherlock Holmes to the case? The author of the famous novels, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was the Club Captain of Crowborough Beacon in 1910, and he lived close to his beloved course.
We still don’t know who originally designed Crowborough Beacon, but the club recently acquired a rare book, written by Bernard Darwin and published in 1926, entitled “The Crowborough Beacon Golf Club Ltd”. In this book, Darwin refers to ‘ingenious’ work that Dr Alister MacKenzie had carried out at the club. Apparently the Dr redesigned eight Crowborough holes and the club has now officially been added to the worldwide list of clubs associated with the famous architect.
There are similarities between Crowborough and its delightful near neighbour, Royal Ashdown Forest, with spectacular views across the treetops and springy heathland/moorland turf. There are, however, bunkers at Crowborough that punctuate an otherwise natural landscape.
Accuracy, rather than length, is all-important. The course measures a little over 6,200 yards but finding the right position on the fairways is easier said than done, and hitting the small greens is also a challenge. Crowborough has many fine holes, but the signature hole is a par three called “The Speaker”. Measuring 190 yards from the back tees, the tee-shot must be struck across a gully, whilst avoiding a large, threatening pit that lurks to the left of the green.
It’s an enchanting, pretty golf course and also a genuine member’s golf club. But you can be assured of a warm welcome. They will make your visit enjoyable and memorable because they have a long history of entertaining. We’re sure that you’ll be captivated by the charm of Crowborough Beacon.
Our Society had a great day at Crowborough Beacon today on a still, warm day. When we arrived I assumed that the large group of jocular golfers were another Society, but in fact this was the members' rollup which play team events except in qualifying competitions. They were without exception friendly, interested and proud of their club. This is a great example that I would love my club to follow, and illustrates the outstanding spirit here. Despite our only being a group of 11 we were met by Terry, one of the club's "Meeter and Greeter" team, who forewent playing in the hustle to make sure everything was good for us (it was) and walked the first 5 holes with us. What service, and he was nice enough to root through a tree on the 4th that I had hoiked my approach into from a heathery lie. Sadly the ball lies there still, but not for lack of effort. The course was great fun, but seeing a vintage photo of the iconic 5th in the club house one was struck by how a wide open heathland has been inundated with trees over the years. The greens were a bit soft and patchy in some places, this is in hand by the club, but it's hard not to think that the trees are depriving them of light and air. A tree reduction program is in progress that we should wish all the best. All members enjoyed the club, views and golf, with the 2nd, 5th, 6th,12th, 14th, 16th and 18th standout holes for all. We finished our visit with a drink on the great terrace followed by a superb bangers and mash meal in the small dining room made available to us by the super team. A great day, and the club should be an example to many other clubs of how to make visitors feel welcome, not merely tolerated. We are subsidising the members' green fees after all !
There’s not a lot to choose between Crowborough Beacon and Royal Ashdown Forest in the Sussex rankings and one earlier reviewer suggests Crowborough should be ahead of Royal Ashdown. IMO RAF is well ahead of Crowborough because RAF has at least five world class holes, whereas Crowborough has only a couple. And the first of these is the boomerang shaped 2nd with its do-or-die approach over a deep gully. It’s such a tough par four to encounter so early in the round. The second great hole was the tough one shot 6th but the angle of the tee was changed which architecturally spoilt the hole – thankfully the original tee is being reintroduced.
Don’t get me wrong, Crowborough is a good golf course worthy of its place in the English rankings but it hasn’t got the wonderful canted greensites and the thrilling carries of RAF which in my view is under appreciated.
Crowborough Beacon Golf Club was founded in 1895 and boasts far-reaching views which are just as mesmerising as the golf course itself.
Admittedly I was a little disappointment with the condition on my visit but the strength of course still shone through and it’s easy to see why this venue is so highly regarded. Those taking advantage of a twilight green-fee of £25 certainly won’t be disappointed.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, is listed as a former captain at this quirky, and at times hilly, heathland layout whilst those who quick-hook their tee-shot from the fourth are likely to spot a monument hidden in the trees which the local member I played with advised is a memorial to mark the death of nine Canadian soldiers killed when a Doodlebug came down on their camp.
The design was influenced by two legendary golf course architects; Harry S. Colt and Dr. Alister MacKenzie. Both have used the natural undulating terrain of Crowborough Common very well to create some dramatic stand-out holes.
The best of these come at the second; a sweeping two-shotter with a deep ravine to carry on the approach, the sixth; a superb par-three played across an old quarry with an option to run the ball in from the right and the tough 18th which plays out in front of the splendid clubhouse under its overlooking veranda from where the views are nothing short of glorious.
At 6,319 yards versus a par of 71 Crowborough Beacon isn’t the longest course and with firm summer fairways the best advice I can offer is to ensure you keep the ball on the short stuff from the tee and avoid the masses of gnarly heather. One must often shape their ball into the fairways in order to keep on the fairway.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Played at the end of a hot summer on a scorching September day. Some decent holes but I'm not sure I'd describe the course as beautiful, although the views most definitely are. A challenging track that favours accuracy over distance with some very small greens, often well protected, although you need both in places as there are some massive carries. Greens were a little baked and in average condition - some bare patches which may be animal related and a little slower than I expected. I'm surprised it is rated this highly but a very challenging round.
I didn't find the welcome particularly warm; the pro-shop was friendly enough but I got the feeling that the members weren't that welcoming. They certainly were lacking in manners. We caught up a 3 ball who teed off 25 minutes ahead of us around the 11th; we let them walk back to the 12th tee before teeing off and as we were playing our approach shots, 2 lady members who were finishing 9 jumped ahead of us then proceeded to struggle with the carry off the tee as we walked back to play it! They then meandered around, hacking slowly without even a look in our direction as they held us up on the way back.
We were fortunate to play Crowborough Beacon at the end of a trip round Wales and just before a flight from Gatwick. We checked top 100 and thought this probably the best course within range of the airport, about 50 mins drive through delightful English countryside. As the reviews say, it is in a sensational location and we were lucky to play it on a balmy early Summer's day. The course is in the traditional members' style with a functional ground floor changing room but airy and scenic top floor bar and terrace to have a quick livener before your round. The staff were without exception incredibly friendly and accommodating to someone being slightly stressed about an upcoming flight time! The first and second are introductions to a personal favourite of elevated tees with a chance to give it a lash whilst having to play to position. The whole course was a lot of fun, with firm springy running heathland turf, at times impressive changes of elevation and forced carries, true undulating greens and some heroic shot options and punitive yet pretty heather, rhododendra and trees for the errant shot. Highly recommended !