Rye Golf Club Old Course Review

A classic and historic links with fast-running, rumpled fairways.

Rye Golf Club Old Course Review
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A classic and historic links with fast-running, rumpled fairways. Playable all year round and always maintained in excellent condition.

Rye Golf Club Old Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 65

Previous Rankings

2019/20 - 57 2017/18 - 54 2015/16 - 58 2013/14 - 61 2011/12 - 71 2009/10 - 77

Summer Green Fees

Round - £175

Visitors: Times available at the secretary’s discretion

Medal Tee: Par 68 – 6,503 Yards

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Changes since previous ranking

None advised

Rye Golf Club Old Course Review

Founded in 1894 the original layout at Rye was designed by a 25-year-old Harry Colt. Even at that young age his talent for visualising and creating attractive and exciting holes was evident. This is a hugely characterful layout.

Related: Top 100 Courses UK and Ireland


15th and 18th holes at Rye
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Indeed, Colt was the club’s first captain and Rye, his very first design, was one that would switch him from his career as a solicitor into that of a golf course architect.

The course at Rye is something of a timeless classic that has been largely unchanged since the 1930s. But it will still present a strong challenge, particularly when the wind is up.

Rye Golf Club Old Course Review

It’s a classic links layout played over fast-running and undulating turf.

The opening in Rye is relatively gentle before things ramp up at the superb 4th playing to a hogsback fairway with trouble on both sides.

Other holes worth noting including the 6th – a dog-leg with a blind tee shot over a dune, then the superb 7th with a green featuring run-offs on all sides.

13th and 8th holes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

On the back nine, the 13th is a cracking hole where the second shot will generally be a long iron over a dune.

Although times for visitors are limited, bookings will be taken on weekdays by appointment.

When you do play, you’ll be made to feel very welcome. Be sure to allow yourself time for what is always an excellent lunch in clubhouse.

Assessor Feedback

A day at Rye is a day well spent giving you the opportunity to enjoy golf as it was intended to be played over 100 years ago.

Rye was in rude health at the end of summer and had been maintained extremely well. The booking process was a little tricky but there’s no arrogance there. From the moment you step into the clubhouse you are made to feel special.

GM Verdict

A classic and historic links with fast-running, rumpled fairways. Playable all year round and always maintained in excellent condition.

Rob Smith Visits…

I have been lucky enough to enjoy a full day at Rye twice in the last year, once in the Summer and once in the Winter, each time playing both courses. The wonderful thing about links golf in general and Rye in particular is that apart from Winter’s demand for extra clothing and the compensation of a more benign attitude towards visitors to the rough, it is just as playable, fair and enjoyable at either time of the year.

Rather than a full, blow-by-blow account, perhaps a handful of photos will whet the appetite beginning with the terrific par-3 5th where it is inadvisable to miss left.

The short fifth is one of a handful of excellent and varied par 3s

The sixth is SI1 and calls for a blind drive over a ridge and a long approach up to the green, and this is followed by another lovely par 3 played in the opposite direction to the 5th.

The seventh is one club different from the fifth on the card, but can play much longer… or shorter!

Eight heads back towards the clubhouse which is reached via the drive and chip 9th.

Humps and bumps around the ninth show the wonderful linksy nature of the landscape

Three varied par 4s open the back nine before you encounter the enigma that is the super-tough 13th. Here you drive into what appears to be a holding area before launching what may need to be a full-blooded wood over the dunes towards the green.

Looking back from the thirteenth to the dunes that have to be scaled

There is some relief at the next, the penultimate short hole where a low, wooden barrier on the right can ask some tricky questions.

The fourteenth is played over a sea of grass

The closing four holes are 4-4-3-4 and each is long and tough for its par, especially the 439-yard closing hole if into the wind.

The eighteenth plays up towards and then to the right of the clubhouse

I would also thoroughly advocate a game on the excellent Jubilee Course which offers a very enjoyable alternative with plenty of strong holes and arguably the best green site at Rye.

The green on the Jubilee fourth is surrounded by dunes

The Old Course at Rye offers honest, quintessential links golf from start to finish and is a textbook example of golf course architecture from probably the master of them all, Harry Colt.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?