Goodwood Downs Golf Club – or to be more accurate the Downs course at Golf at Goodwood is close to Chichester in the Sussex countryside. It’s a couple of miles inland and there are views of the English Channel from the course. I would describe the first six and the last three holes as parkland in nature. The nine in the middle are on top of the Sussex Downs. For me, the middle holes are what sets Goodwood Downs Golf Club apart from the crowd. They have a lovely open quality and the grand vistas are matched by the style of the golf. By contrast, the parkland holes are often played through tree-lined corridors along the valley bottom – a very different style of golf.
The course was designed by James Braid in 1914 but there have been several tweaks in the century since then. Most recently, and most notably, long-time member Tom Mackenzie, of Mackenzie & Ebert, has overseen an extensive bunker renovation project.
Their jagged edges, raised lips and shaggy faces now give pronounced and welcome definition to the holes. Not that you’ll be saying that if you finish on top of one (which is worse than being in one). But they are supposed to be hazards, right?
You’ll have to take my word for it that the 7th is an outstanding par 4. It’s slightly harsh that having completed the significant climb from the valley up to the downs you are immediately faced with this 468-yarder into the prevailing breeze.
Sweeping right to left, the tee shot must be placed well wide of the large bunker on the inside of the dogleg – there are no short-cuts at Goodwood Downs. What you can do with the second (or third) is run one in down the hill. Generously, Mackenzie has taken a bunker out to the left of the green and replaced it with a hollow. Thanks for that, Tom.
I reckon the view as you approach the 7th green is the highlight of the round – there is golf everywhere around you and you can really appreciate the sheer scale of the course. I enjoyed the par-4 13th, a medium-length dogleg in sheltered surroundings that asks you to fade your drive to counteract the right-to-left wind and follow the shape of the hole.
You have to embrace the challenge, especially when you are up high on top of the world. There’s going to be some wind up here but those wide fairways give you a bit of margin for error. Arguably the most dangerous holes come at either end of the round. For example, you would have to say that the 2nd is a bit of a card-wrecker and the same is true of the 3rd.