One of the more recent centurion clubs in England, Nevill Golf Club was founded in 1914, when Willie Park Junior established a 9-hole layout for the members. Five years later, within twelve months of The Great War ending, James Braid was commissioned to modify the original course and add another nine holes in order to fashion a full 18-hole track.
Braid’s scope of work included upgrading a number of the greens: re-laying the putting surface on the 1st and 8th, enlarging the surface area of the 5th and re-contouring the 6th. He also set out seven new holes on newly acquired land over the railway bridge, where the old master made skillful use of the undulating land.
After the end of World War II, Ken Cotton’s design company was engaged in to make modifications and a new 6th hole was added. Henry Cotton then redesigned the layout in the mid-1960s, bringing the current par four 14th and par three 15th into play and he altered five other holes, extending the course by around 400 yards.
Just ahead of the club’s centenary, Donald Steel was asked to review the course infrastructure then recommend improvements that would hopefully see the club through its next one hundred years. This resulted in the removal and relocation of a number of bunkers, the lengthening of several holes and the restructuring of the club’s tree management program.
Today, the course measures a respectable 6,380 yards from the back tees, playing to a par of 70, with the back-to-back par fives at the 10th and 11th considered the best two holes on the card. All of the par three holes at Nevill are demanding, especially the last one at the 15th, where a little stream cuts across the front of the green.No fewer than three European Tour professionals – Jamie Spence, Paul Way and Jamie Harris – have come through the ranks at Nevill, which speaks volumes for the quality of the club’s academy system. Of course, it also indicates the course’s ability to offer a stern enough challenge to steel elite players for the rigours of the professional circuit.
Lets say that this is my first visit to Nevill GC (I did play here around thirty-five years ago but remember nothing). First thing to say based on what I have been told is that the course has not been managed well for many years – course conditioning, poor green surfaces, and 1000’s of trees that have taken over and encroached everywhere.
2020 is the start of a new era at Nevill; new club management and a new course director (40 years associated with the club) who really knows what he is talking about in terms of getting the course priorities right and add in a very strong playing career that saw great Tour success and two strong Ryder Cup appearances and you have the right man for the job.
Nevill is mainly a heathland layout that has some parkland holes and one of the main areas of focus is to highlight this course as heathland. To do this many trees are being removed that are the wrong species, in the wrong places and are just taking over. This woodland management work started in early 2020 and the early results are very strong; so much light is now being seen on the course and the character is returning.
The club have also called upon the services of another specialist (think Ealing GC, Middlesex) to advise and shape the development – this is already evident on the greens which are now very strong indeed.
Nevill has a very tranquil feeling with noise at a minimum all around the course and is a very special place to be. There are plenty of strong good-looking holes and a few of my favourites include; - the par-3 6th at 189 yards, slightly uphill and on the extreme of the course on the south-east side is a very good short hole. At the very next hole, the dog-legging 374-yard 7th hole, some of the early tree clearance work can been seen at the right of the green now allowing the sunlight to work its magic to enhance the putting surface. The par-3 9th previously had a blind bunker from the tee (un-seen behind two humps) – another quick win here has taken place as the hump on the right-side has been flattened to allow the sand to (correctly) be seen whilst teeing off.
The back nine has some great holes; the 14th gets my vote as the standout – 403 yards, downhill from the tee and then slightly uphill approaching over a small ditch to the huge offset green. The final hole on the course (384 yards) is more or less a 90 degree dog-leg to the right that starts to turn at around 200 yards, so the obvious tee shot is a controlled fade – the clubhouse 1st floor terrace is a perfect place to watch these approach shots into the 18th green.
It feels as on and off the course Nevill GC is improving, certainly from what I saw the early signs are very encouraging and the members are over the moon with what is happening. I look forward to playing again and hopefully pretty soon. Current county ranking of #14 is a little low, should be better placed next time.
I have been a member of this club for over 15 years. The course currently is, without doubt, in the best condition I have ever known, which is testament to the excellent works completed around the course over the last 3 years. The greens are fast, true and fair. In my opinion, this course is certainly one of the best ones in Sussex and indeed Kent. As a result of the above the club is currently attracting numerous new members, especially as The Board have dispensed with the "joining fee". Well done the Management and volunteer Members who have done a magnificent job of clearing the course of unwanted trees / bushes, having a very positive effect on "air flow" throughout our wonderful course. We also have many resident deer by the way, which look lovely, but sometimes create their own issues!
I have been a Nevill member for 3 years after moving to the area and recommend it highly. The course is a Par 70 with narrow, tree-lined fairways and a challenging but beautiful mix of holes, you certainly need to think your way around. The greens are particularly good, some of the best in the South of England - very true and fast in the summer months. The club is friendly and welcoming for visitors and societies, with great food and nice terrace to have a drink after the round. Halfway house is also excellent.
The Nevill now has,probably,the best greens in all of Sussex ,if not beyond.All year round.Very challenging but fair.