East Sussex National’s two courses, like many courses of its ilk, had a reputation for being brutally long and hard back in the day. There’s plenty of length, water, design subtleties, bunkers and, above all, slick and contoured greens to challenge us as it is. However, the West course was beautifully manicured and, athough tough, a fair test. I thought the 15th hole illustrated what this course does well. On the face of it, this isn’t a stand-out hole. It’s got no water, it’s a medium length par 4, it plays uphill and it had a generous fairway. But there’s more to it than meets the eye.
The green has a few different levels and portions, which means that the angle of attack is significant if you want to get anywhere near with your approach.
And if you do leave yourself 50 feet, you’re odds-on for a three putt because the greens are seriously quick. Miss the green, which you can do despite being only 20 feet from the flag, and you will face the toughest of jobs from a juicy, grassy lie.
This is a fun course to putt on. It really does reward those of us with a good touch and who can appreciate the severity of some of the contours, which are not always apparent.
For example, I had a putt from the front of the par-5 12th green and the pin was pretty much in the middle. Granted, I didn’t walk up and have a look, but what I thought was a gentle left-to-right borrow in fact left me as far away as I’d started by the time it eventually finished trickling away. I’m not the world’s best putter, far from it, but I don’t often suffer that kind of a fate.
Another feature is the incredibly receptive greens. Allied to their pace, you can get some serious spin on your approaches, so much so that you are adding five yards to your yardages with short irons (and trying to spot those dangerous sucker back pins).