Rye Golf Club Old Course Review - A historic layout that was the first creation of Harry Colt, who was also the club's first captain

Rye Golf Club Old Course Review

Green Fee Range: £145

Medal Tee: Par 68 – 6,503 Yards

Visitor Times: Weekdays by prior arrangement

Website: www.ryegolfclub.co.uk

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

Yet another gift from the creative genius of Harry Colt, the course at Rye is as traditional as the club itself.

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

His trademark bunkers abound, and there are several blind shots that have to be played over ridges.

Rye Golf Club Old Course Review

This is historic golf over fast-running turf the way it was designed to be played. There are some excellent long par 4s, and each of the five, delightful short holes is that perfect, but usually elusive, mix of golfing test and visual treat.

The only par 5 comes at the opening hole, and it eases you into your round. Short and bunkerless, there’s no excuse to take much time over it, and this is exactly what is expected here and throughout the round.

Now a shade more acknowledging of the outside world and welcoming than in times gone by, Rye remains one of our most old-fashioned clubs, with memorabilia and ghosts haunting each corner of the clubhouse.

Make sure you have time for the excellent lunch, and to savour not just the food but the atmosphere that runs through the veins of Rye.

Course changes since previous ranking

Nothing significant

Proposed course changes

None planned

Golf Monthly Verdict

A well-maintained course with a great heritage.

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.