Top 18: Courses in the South of EnglandNovember, 2015
Country estates, august links and cliff-top vistas await in England’s warmest counties
England’s southern counties of Sussex, Dorset and Hampshire lay claim to some of the most polished golf on offer in the British Isles.
Excellent motorway and train links ensure the courses are well within reach of those travelling from the major centres of Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton, with London just up the road.
Laying beside the English Channel, it’s no surprise that this area is warmer than the rest of the UK, with Dorset being the warmest county.
Top 18: Courses in the East Midlands
As a result, courses are typically well-manicured and flourishing – from the traditional links at Hayling and Rye to the parkland courses of Goodwood and the exclusive Remedy Oak.
Most UK seaside courses are links in nature, but in Dorset can be found heathland and parkland courses close to the coast, offering a welcome and unusual alternative.
Similarly, and despite possessing almost 100 miles of coastline, from Camber in the East to Chichester in the West, Sussex only boasts two links, with the other coastal courses built on downland atop the clifftops.
The region is often overlooked by those in search of championship venues, but it is a gross oversight as the courses here are outstanding.
The Hampshire County Golf Union was the first in England, established in 1893, and the county’s heathland layouts harken back to those early days when classic designers such as Harry Colt, James Braid and JH Taylor helped shape the landscape and take advantage of the abundance of attractive natural features.
Whether heathland, cliff-top or country-estate parkland, the south of England has a lot of fine golf to offer.
1. WEST SUSSEX
Overall, West Sussex has changed very little since it was constructed in 1931.
Trees have matured and the course has settled into its environment, but the continued and unfading appeal is testament to the design by renowned architects Guy Campbell and Cecil Hutchinson.
Bernard Darwin described the course as a “little sandy jewel set in the Sussex clay” on account of its relatively modest length – it measures 6,355 yards from the tiger tees. Yet West Sussex is generally held up as proof that length isn’t everything, and the course is held in high regard by all who play it.
It is widely acknowledged that West Sussex is a superb winter course, with well-drained greens and dry fairways throughout the year.
Although seven of the par fours measure over 400 yards, there is a great deal of variation to the holes and many will stick in the memory.
2. RYE (OLD)
3. REMEDY OAK
7. ROYAL ASHDOWN FOREST (OLD)
Famously bunkerless, you might be wishing for sand after trying to chip up from gullies.
Unspoilt heathland set in glorious Dorset countryside with pine and gorse all around.
A rare links course on the south coast, overlooking the Solent to the Isle of Wight.
11. NORTH HANTS
12. CROWBOROUGH BEACON
13. ISLE OF PURBECK
A heathland course set within a nature reserve where rare birds and plants live.
14. GOODWOOD (DOWNS)
16. MANNINGS HEATH (WATERFALL)
17. EAST SUSSEX NATIONAL (WEST)
HAVE YOU PLAYED ANY OF THESE GREAT COURSES? DO YOU THINK WE HAVE MISSED ANY OUT? HAVE YOUR SAY BELOW!