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Goodwood Downs Golf Club

Played by NCG: Goodwood (Downs)

Goodwood Downs Golf Club – or to be more accurate Golf at Goodwood's Downs course – has a split personality, beginning and ending in parkland with the middle section on the Sussex Downs
 

Reason for a Goodwood (Downs) Golf Club

You know the drill by now. After me: to do research for England’s Top 100 Courses 2018. I have been planning a visit to Goodwood all season but it took me until now to find a suitable window in my schedule.

I paired it with a trip to East Sussex National but if I knew then what I know now about Sussex geography it might have been better to treat Goodwood as part of a Hampshire trip rather than a Sussex one. You live and learn.

Where is Goodwood (Downs) Golf Club?

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.

 

Goodwood Downs Golf Club

What to expect

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?

Goodwood Downs Golf Club

Favourite hole

Let me apologise now for the quality of the pictures – the weather was not in our favour even though I kept thinking the sun might peak out. You’ll have to take my word for it that the 7th (pictured above) 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 here. 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.

My best bit

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.

What to look for at Goodwood Downs Golf Club

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.

When I go back

I’ll make sure the sun is out so I can see the course at its best. I’d like to have a go with my driver off the 2nd tee (in the right conditions) to see if I can get my drive down into the bottom and I’ll make sure I bag a birdie on the par-5 14th.

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Dan Murphy

Dan Murphy

Dan loves links golf, which doesn't mean he is very good at it. He is a four-handicapper at Alwoodley. A qualified journalist and senior editor with 25 years’ experience, he was the long-time editor of NCG. His passion is golf courses and he is the founding editor of NCG Top 100s course rankings. He loves nothing more than discovering and highlighting courses that are worthy of greater recognition.

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