Top 20 Golf Courses in Sussex 2015
Sussex Best in County rankings updated
The historic county of Sussex is said to have its origins in the Kingdom of Sussex, where Ælle was the first king of the South Saxons in the late 5th century. Of course, the Romans flooded into Britain through this region 500 years before then and the Norman conquest of England began with the Battle of Hastings 500 years later in 1066 so the county has seen more than its fair share of trouble and strife over the course of the last two millennia.
Nowadays, visitors to Sussex can still connect to the past through sightseeing trips to the 11th century Arundel Castle, 14th century Bodian Castle or Brighton’s 18th century Royal Pavilion but for sports-minded people who prefer to deal in the present, there are plenty of places to take in top class sporting action such as the horse racing at Goodwood, Fontwell Park and Plumpton or county cricket at Arundel, Horsham and Hove.
For golfers who wish to play, rather than watch their chosen sport, there are more than sixty golf clubs spread around Sussex and we maintain Top 20 Best in County listings for these courses. We’ve just completed a period of consultation with golfing contacts in the region and have now revised our local county rankings, presenting the results below for your examination.
The top three positions remain exactly as they were following our last update two years ago so the number 1 course in the county is still West Sussex, which Sir Guy Campbell and Major C.K. Hutchison laid out in 1930. Nothing much has changed with the layout of this heathland track in eighty-five years and the golfing world in general should be eternally grateful for that.
Rye (Old) is at number 2 and, like West Sussex, it also sits comfortably within our Top 100 chart for Great Britain & Ireland. The first course designed by Harry Colt in 1894 when he was still a solicitor and only 25 years of age, it’s been described by a recent reviewer as “a knowingly understated, pure and simple golf club that presents you with a stiff challenge hole after hole”.
The number 3 course in Sussex is the Old course at Royal Ashdown Forest, where the club achieved its royal prefix from Queen Victoria in 1893, five years after its formation. The fairways here are set out on rather hilly heathland terrain, with not a bunker in sight at any of the eighteen holes. It’s younger sibling, the West course, is a highly regarded companion at a wonderful 36-hole facility.
Rising one place to number 4, Crowborough Beacon is an Alister MacKenzie re-design which is in much the same mould as Royal Ashdown Forest, its near neighbour. With springy heathland cum moorland fairways laid out across the southern slopes of the East Sussex High Weald, the course plays host to the Men’s Senior Home Internationals later this week.
The two 18-hole layouts at East Sussex National also make positive upward moves. The West course climbs one place to number 6 and the East course nudges up two spots to number 7. Both tracks were designed by American Bob Cupp and constructed completely with bent grass, first opening for play in 1990. A full day at this 36-hole complex is recommended but visitors should expect a serious golfing examination when teeing it up here.
The only other significant advance up the standings is made by Cooden Beach, which soars seven places to number 11. Located in Bexhill on Sea, this Herbert Fowler course dates back to 1912, when the master designer fashioned the layout with five par threes and five par fives.
Two courses enter the Top 20 chart for the first time: Seaford debuts at number 10 and this club moved to its present site in 1907, twenty years after its formation, when J.H. Taylor set out a new course for the members. Cowdray Park also makes its first appearance at number 17 and this layout is set within the massive 16,500-acre Cowdray Estate in Midhurst, where golf has been played since 1904.
We’re grateful to everybody in the county who helped with our re-ranking process for Sussex. To view details of all the courses in our Sussex Top 20 rankings click the link. If you have extensive experience of playing across the south region of England and would like to contribute to our next re-ranking exercise then please email Editor-in-Chief Keith Baxter at [email protected].
14 September 2015 Respond to this article