Golf in the Chichester area dates back to 1892 when a club was formed and a rudimentary 9-hole course came into play at Peckham Copse. The club received a noble helping hand at the turn end of the 19th century when the sixth Duke of Richmond offered to move the club to the foxhound kennels on his vast Goodwood Estate. Surely dog kennels would never make a comfortable clubhouse? Well, architect to George III, James Wyatt, designed these kennels in 1787 for the famous Charlton Hunt and they are of significant architectural importance and the finest example of Sussex flint work in the county.
The Duke of Richmond’s estate workers laid out the original course at Goodwood Golf Club, but James Braid designed a proper sporting course in 1914, the essence of which is played today and it still bears many of Braid’s hallmark doglegged holes and intimidating cross bunkering.
Naturally, the chalky South Downs provide not only excellent drainage but also dramatic elevation change, ideal for exciting golf and for panoramic views across the Goodwood Estate to Chichester Cathedral, the Solent and the Isle of Wight beyond.
In 2004, Howard Swan started a lengthy renovation of the historic Downs course. It was extended to a meaty 7,104 yards from the back tees but the integrity of Braid’s original design was cleverly maintained retaining the best of Braid’s holes while also creating holes that cater for today’s big hitting golfers. The new and spectacular par four 2nd is a great example, which combines two of Braid’s original holes. An accurate drive to an escarpment leaves an inviting approach shot to a large green sited in the valley below.
In 1989 Donald Steel added a second course at Goodwood Golf Club, known as the Park course and it’s open for pay and play amongst the majestic cedars. Unfortunately, the Downs course is only open to members and their guests unless you book a golf day and invite all your golfing friends to experience the best downland golf course in Britain.
In 2014, Goodwood commissioned Mackenzie &
Ebert to refurbish the bunkers of the Downs course in a phased approach, which completed
in April 2017.
A visit to Goodwood Golf Club is not just about the golf – my advice is to arrive early and enjoy the full experience that should include spending some time in the unique clubhouse and the fantastic open-air bar by the pro-shop before taking a tour of Goodwood House and just getting involved in the extensive history that is evident all around.
The Downs course is a great design and I have to say a very enjoyable experience and absolutely no chance to be bored with the choice of holes. The 2nd hole is really good – a tee-shot of around 210 yards (tip; driver not required….do not be long) will leave a downhill approach of about 150 yards. The tee shot on the par-4 3rd favours a left to right shot and will set up a long approach (watch the very cleverly placed bunker 30 yards short of the green). The 7th tee is probably the highest point on the Downs course and like many have said, take-in the view from here before playing the tricky par-4. At the 11th, you are greeted by a par-5 with an elevated tee and plenty more great views to enjoy…cross bunkers on the approach to the green are a great feature and a very typical trait of the designer, James Braid.
Loved the 12th, and my favourite short hole on the course – watch this green as putts can turn what appears to be uphill! Another nice short par-4 at the 13th is then followed by two holes that are in the heart of ‘downland’. My choice of best par-5 comes at the 16th – drive should be slightly right of centre and then the approach needs to hug the left side, which gives the best chance to attack and hunt for the rare birdie. A decent mid iron par-3 is at the 17th and a fairly long par-4 18th ends the round.
The Downs course was a real treat to play and one that I will return to very soon. The current Top 100 county ranking says this is no. 5 in Sussex – it is better than that, top 3 is very achievable. There is a very friendly welcome from all staff and in this busy market after the floating golfer this is very important – I am sure that if you make the effort to visit Goodwood once you are bound to come back – there are some very reasonable flexible memberships available too.
Goodwood is one of my favorite golf courses in the UK starting with the amazing clubhouse and very friendly welcome. Then you get out on the course , off the silvers 7100yds is a slog but excellent even when the wind is howling in your face on the 16th a 600yd par 5 monster, simply amazing but my favorite hole on the course is the 2nd simply because you play to the tree in front of you 235yds awayish then you have a 80ft drop and you play from the top of the hill on to the green about 160yds away in the far corner it's simply breathtaking. I played it once fell in love with it and joined on the spot handy only living ten mins away. Also the practice facilities are excellent.
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