The delightful downland course at Seaford Golf Club sits high above the English Channel on the boundary of the South Downs National Park, halfway between Brighton and Eastbourne, offering glorious views from Firle Beacon to Beachy Head, with the rolling acres of Cradle Valley in the foreground.
Seaford dates back to 1887, making it the oldest golf club in the county of Sussex, and its original course was a 12-hole affair at Seaford Head, where the Seaford Head Golf Course is now operated by the Town Council.
In 1907, disputes with the land owner forced a move further inland to Bullock Down in East Blatchington, where a new layout was designed by J.H. Taylor. This course officially opened with a 36-hole exhibition match between the architect, fellow Open Champions James Braid and Jack White, along with Seaford professional Joe Cheal, who was attached to the club until 1950.
A 9-hole relief course was also established at the club’s new location, but the fairways were turned over to agricultural use during the Great War and, unfortunately, they were never recovered when hostilities ceased.
In 1911, the current 7th hole was built – leading to a change of the order in which some holes were played – and the old 16th and 17th were combined to form a new 17th hole. Other course revisions, which involved the lengthening of a number of holes, were made in 1930, then a plateau green was built on the shortened 12th hole seven years later.
John Morrison, a design partner of Harry Colt, also worked at Seaford in 1951. Unfortunately, the centenary publication Seaford Golf Club: A History by past Captain John H. Walsh, OBE gives little detail of what was actually accomplished by Morrison, apart from stating “several bunkers were removed”.
Complemented by a driving range, a par-3 course and a short game area, the modern day course extends to 6,546 yards from the back tees and plays to a par of 69, with a testing standard scratch score of 71. There are no blind shots or water carries to contend with but playing to handicap is no easy matter here.
Highlight holes include the 421-yard 6th (played to green that’s fronted by a deep grassy pit), the 446-yard 8th (where fairway cross bunkers threaten the drive), and the 555-yard 16th, which is configured as the only par five hole on the scorecard and features a bunker (nicknamed “Grant’s Folly”) that catches many players short and right of the green.
Seaford also offers comfortable, reasonably-priced “stay and play” accommodation in its 24-bed Dormy House above the clubhouse, and this fantastic facility for visitors has been welcoming players for over sixty years now.