The Royal Eastbourne Golf Club was established in 1887, with members playing on a 9-hole Horace Hutchinson-designed course on ground adjacent to Compton Place, which was owned by wealthy landowner William Cavendish, who became the 7th Duke of Devonshire.
Less than a month after the club’s formation on 4th October 1887, Queen Victoria had conferred the Royal title on the new club. The following year, Eastbourne Ladies’ Golf Club was formed, with women soon playing on their own course in the middle of the main layout.
Tom Simpson revised this 9-hole course (now called the Hartington) in 1912. At the same time, Simpson and his design partner Arthur Croome re-modelled the main layout which had previously been extended to eighteen holes then redesigned by J.H. Taylor in 1904.
After World War II, C.K. Cotton revitalised the main course, with particular regard to holes 4-7, located at the further point from the clubhouse in the northeast portion of the property. The 18-hole Devonshire course, as it’s now called, re-opened in the mid-1950s.
Today, the modern-day set-up still retains many of the original Hutchinson greens, and old-fashioned design traits are lovingly preserved, such as the fairway cross bunkers in front of the greens on both doglegging par five holes at the 5th and 16th.
The overall length of the layout is a moderate 6,047 yards from the back markers and par is set at 70; 36 out then 34 back. There are back-to-back par fives to negotiate at holes 4 and 5, and a round here ends with a short hole in front of the clubhouse – until recently, holes 17 and 18 were played as par threes.
Highlight holes on the Devonshire include short par fours at the 340-yard 3rd and 309-yard 9th, while the longest of the par threes on the card, the 194-yard 13th, plays to a long, narrow green with a step falloff to the left of the putting surface – resulting in a strong stroke index of 6 for this hole.