On the East course at East Sussex National Golf Resort, Gordon Brand Jnr. and David Gilford won the European Opens in 1993 and 1994 respectively. It will come as no surprise to hear that East Sussex National’s East course is a big tournament layout.
Bob Cupp designed the course, using bent grass from green to tee. In 1990, after two years in the making, it opened for play. The East is laid out in an American, stadium-styled design – no wonder, because Cupp is American. The earth certainly moved here, because huge mounds flank many of the holes – making ideal vantage points for thousands of spectators. The layout wends its way across the rolling, undulating hills of the South Downs.
Cupp has designed a cracking course that will test every level of golfer. The huge East course measures more than 7,100 yards from the back tees. But don’t be disillusioned; there are numerous forward tees to choose from. Putting is a real pleasure on the immaculate, manicured greens – no excuses for three putting. Driving is also thrilling – you can really open your shoulders and let rip. This is a relatively open course, with generous fairways. Thankfully, the rough is normally kept under control.
There are many testing holes and memorable ones too. But without a shadow of doubt, the piece de resistance is the 17th, a 450-yard par four. From the tee, everything is laid out clearly in front of you – it’s a daunting prospect. There’s a wily creek lying to the right of the green. It widens and narrows and widens again, almost reaching back to the tee. At all costs, the tee-shot must avoid the creek, leaving an approach across the water to a large, receptive and inviting green.
The whole East Sussex Nation complex is massive, from the car park and clubhouse, to the two excellent courses (East and West). In the British Isles, the level of customer service at East Sussex National is second to none. They certainly know how to look after you – your clubs will be cleaner at the end of the day, than at the start.
We thoroughly recommend a day playing the East and the West. It will be tiring – but well worth the effort. Take the pressure off and treat yourself to a buggy for the afternoon round.
After watching the East course on Sky Sports for the Euro Pro Tour, we were very excited to finally be playing the course and in great conditions. We were greeted off the elevated tee by a friendly martial who settled our nerves with some gentle banter.
The first hole is a par 4 straight down a gentle slope to a green beyond a brook running just prior to the front of the slender but wide green. It's a really good first hole because it's a welcoming drive, but a thoughtful approach. The 2nd is a tempting par 5 with a slight dogleg to the left which has a tree on the right hand side of the fairway, potentially blocking out glory
The 5th is a charming par 4 down a hill to a green just beyond a little brook. The 7th is an engaging par 5 which snakes round to the left arriving at a green framed by trees. The 10th hole is a cracking par 5 which when you get over the crest of the fairway from your tee shot, you look downwards to a picturesque risk or reward 2nd shot as the green has a slope at the front, which runs into a watery trench. There are also trees which can potentially block your chance at reaching the green in two.
The 11th can create some drama with bunkers and a steep drop off to the right of the green. The 12th is all about making sure you are in the right hand side of the fairway sufficiently to avoid the large tree on the fairway to the left. The tree will dictate what kind of approach you have.
The 15th hole starts the beginning of a really good stretch of finishing holes. It is a relatively straight par 4 uphill all the way to the green where the pressure is getting some good distance off the tee. The 16th is a scintillating par 3 with water leading up to the right hand side of the kidney bean shaped green with bunkers front right and at the back. The green is also framed in an American style fescue which provides a visceral contrast. The 17th is an excellent 2 parter. The tee shot forces you to lay up short of the water before the approach shot over water to an elevated green. The beauty of the hole is that you want to be as close to the water as possible or you will have a long shot into the green. The final hole is a good finishing hole. You tee off to an invitingly generous uphill fairway which then winds its way to the left and up a fairly steep slope to a thin, but long slanted green. You will probably only have a short iron in to the final hole with the impressive clubhouse in the backdrop, but it is the bunkers on the left you will want to avoid.
We stayed at the East Sussex National and only played the East course but we really enjoyed the the whole experience and thought the American resort style course was more than interesting enough to hold our attention. The course was in very good condition and the greens ran perfectly to make for a thoroughly enjoyable day.