Rye was my first experience of a links golf course and it most certainly won't be the last! It was definitely the toughest eighteen holes I've played, but I came away smiling, marvelling at the design and wishing I could play again to fall into a few different tough spots.As others have said, with a bit of luck you can get a tee off time with far less hassle than I gather there was previously and it certainly helped that a former member was able to vouch for me. The forecast was nothing but sun and wind, with the indoor barometer reading 'moderate breeze'... Basically means 25mph plus! The first hole is a nice, straightforward par five that sums up half of Rye's holes - what you see is what you get. The first of the short holes follows before a brutish 437 yard par four. That opening stretch is Rye in a microcosm, with the danger (mostly) laid out before you and some intricate greens with wonderful run-off areas that really challenge your short game.There were obviously some standouts. The par three seventh is probably my favourite golf hole I've ever played - I came away with a four and was delighted. Danger all around with deep bunkers, moguls and an uneven green; I almost wanted to miss it in different places for the challenge! The short par four ninth was another great hole with the risk-reward element of being right in front of the clubhouse adding to the choices in front of you. The back nine was equally intriguing, and whilst the water on the 11th may have been slightly out of kilter with the rest of the course, it added another threat on a tough hole when playing right into the wind. The thirteenth, too, has been much-mentioned and it's another outstanding hole. The marker is in a ridiculous spot that doesn't help at all, but that just adds to the fun. Normally a hole like this would seem forced, but it fits right in. The fifteenth posed one of the toughest questions with a straight drive needed (with wind off the left!) to a fairway that moguls and bottlenecks quickly to make things even more difficult! I did find the seventeenth a let-down, and I just think it's too long. It's a great green with Rye's usual danger, but at 220 yards and in the middle of a lot of open space, you just can't tell. The final hole is again a toughie and my playing partner managed to find the wall of the clubhouse with his second. I fell foul of a massive drop off just right of the fairway and felt slightly cheated that my seemingly excellent tee shot had led to a 60 degree downhill stance with grass packed behind the ball. I made a six and still had a huge grin on my face - it's a great place to play and if you ever get the chance, go for it.
Date: May 27, 2015