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GF: £36.50 STATS: par 72, sss 72, 6,605 yards T: 01273 857260 W: dykegolf.com (opens in new tab)
Golf at this club near the famous Devil’s Dyke on the Sussex Downs dates back to 1906 but the current course is more recent, the handiwork of Fred Hawtree following wartime use as a tank training ground. A glance at the card suggests scope to score early on with three par 5s and a short par 4 in the first four holes, but beware of complacency and don’t bank on being a couple under early on. No score is safe anyway until the difficult 16th and 17th have been negotiated, a long par 4 with bushes awaiting anything leaking right followed by a tough par 3 across a broad gully to a shallow shelf. Sandford Springs
GF: £35 STATS: Park/Wood: par 70, sss 70, 6,122 yards; Lakes/Park: par 69, sss 70, 6,101 yards; Wood/Lakes: par 71, sss 71, 6,275 yards T: 01635 296800 W: sandfordspringsgolf.co.uk (opens in new tab)
Sandford Springs features three distinct loops of nine known as The Park, The Wood and The Lakes. Although not the longest of tests, a number of holes wind their way into the rolling hills of Berkshire and Hampshire, with occasional blind tee shots and elevated greens ensuring a good challenge. Tempting par 4s should not be underestimated with subtly placed hazards lurking for any errant tee shots, most notably on The Park’s signature hole, the 9th. As you might expect, five of the nine holes on The Lakes bring water into play, but a friendly clubhouse and ideally placed halfway hut should compensate for any bad scoring.
Downshire Golf Complex
GF: From £19.65 STATS: par 73, sss 71, 6,416 yards T: 01344 302030 W: bracknell-forest.gov.uk (opens in new tab)
Bracknell Forest Council runs the municipal course at the Downshire Golf Complex to the west of Bracknell. A par-73 layout, 13 of the 18 holes have water hazards. Wending through mature trees, it has a reputation as one of the top pay-and-play courses in the area.
GF: £35 STATS: par 71, sss 70, 6,272 yards T: 01227 453532 W: canterburygolfclub.co.uk (opens in new tab)
Designed by the prolific Harry Colt, this is a parkland layout set in scenic woodland. Although just half a mile from the centre of Canterbury there’s a sense of serenity and seclusion here. The course is well manicured and the greens roll beautifully. The fairways are fairly generous, but the proximity of the trees on most holes means accuracy is of the utmost importance.
GF: £39 STATS: par 71, sss 71, 6,436 yards T: 01843 862140 W: northforeland.co.uk (opens in new tab)
Founded in 1903 and expanded to 18 holes by Lord Northcliffe in 1912, this is a seaside course but not a typical links. It’s constructed on chalk and many of the holes have more of a downland feel. From its position on the cliff tops, the course looks out to where the English Channel meets the North Sea. It can certainly be a bracing spot and the strength of the wind will play a massive role in how great a challenge you face.
GF: £40 STATS: par 69, sss 69, 5,916 yards T: 01483 892696 W: bramleygolfclub.co.uk (opens in new tab) This free-draining parkland course just south of Guildford in Surrey dates back to 1913, with Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein poised to open the course the following year until world events conspired to intervene. There are some memorable holes early on – notably the 2nd with its claustrophobic drive and the long par-3 3rd to a shallow shelf of a green – before a suitably stout finale on the lower land beneath a 2007 upgraded clubhouse.
Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
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