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John Mayhugh

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West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« on: October 22, 2009, 01:00:26 PM »
My first exposure to English and heathland golf was at West Sussex Golf Club in Pulborough.  What an introduction.  With a par of 68 and total yardage of just over 6200, it is the kind of course that a lot of people might dismiss when planning a trip.  Yet the par 3s average right around 400 yards from the back tees and the par 3s average nearly 190, so there is plenty of challenge there.  The yardage we played from ended up closer to 6000 total and even that wasn't easy.  

The course was designed by Campbell, Hutchinson, & Hotchkin.  According to their website, the clubhouse was built with plans for easy conversion to a home if the golf course failed.  It would be quite the house!    The land that the clubhouse, practice area, and first hole sits on is pretty much dead flat, so it doesn't inspire immediately.  However, as you ease into the round, you realize that the best land was used for the course.






West Sussex opens with its only par 5.  The hole is mostly straightaway and tips out at 484 yards.  Here is where I got my first introduction to heather.




Looking back towards the tee & clubhouse.


The bunkers off the fairway are in play if you need to layup with your second shot.


The green is sort of kidney shaped with a spine in the middle.  Overall, a pretty easy introduction.






The land starts to get more interesting beginning with the second.  The hole plays 412/398 and seems mostly straightaway.  There is rough and OB left and heather all along the right side.  


Looking back towards the tee.


A look at the beautiful heather.  OK, not so beautiful if you're in it.


Compared to the first hole, there is a lot of movement to this fairway.  According to the club's website, the large ridges you see going across the fairway are along the path of an old Roman road.






From the green looking back towards the fairway.  I screwed up and did not get any photos of the green.  The green is elevated a bit more than it looks from the front so balls don't run up as easily as you would think.  Missed shots also run down below the green on both sides.

The third is a par 4 367/350 that runs back parallel to the second.  This means heather on your right again, but this time heather also covers some of the left side as well.  The first bunker you see on the right is about a 200 yard carry, with another bunker 40 yards beyond that.


My tee shot here JUST missed the heather.  


This is from short of the first bunker.  The heather on the bank of the bunker looks nice but doesn't play very easy.




Looking back from around the green, you can see the bunkers that have to be skirted.


The front part of the green slopes quite a bit from back to front.


Long to a back hole location wouldn't be good at all.



« Last Edit: October 23, 2009, 12:53:44 PM by John Mayhugh »

John Mayhugh

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2009, 12:54:09 PM »
The fourth is another par 4 that dog-legs quite a bit left.  Hole is 383/350, with about 180 yards to carry the bunker on the inside of the dog-leg.  You can't really cut the corner as the hole flows left rather than distinct turn.  This makes line and yardage off the tee important.  There is gorse if you run through the fairway on the right.  The fairway is a bit flatter on the right side.



The other advantage to being up the right side is you have more of a straight on shot at the green.  The bunker on the left is about 60 yards from the green.  The green itself is bunkerless but a miss left goes down a steep slope and into the trees.







A look back at the green from the 5th tee.  The 4th tee is probably right in line with the taller grouping of trees.



The fifth hole is a short par three 158/136. It's well-framed by bunkers, especially on the left side.  The heather & bunkers make this a beautiful hole. 









The green slopes back to front and right to left as this photo from the rear sort of shows.



The sixth is another par three 226/214.  Carry across the water is around 190 yards, with 25 or so yards between the water and front of the green.  Left is a heathery hill and the bailout right is likely to find a bunker.  According to the club's website, this was originally a par four with a different tee. 




The green slopes quite a bit from back to front.


This photo from the 7th fairway gives a better view back to the green as well.  You can really see the back to front slope as well as the bunkers.






Tim Pitner

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2009, 06:49:36 PM »
Thanks John--West Sussex is very high on my list of English courses I'd like to play.  What other heathland courses did you play and how did West Sussex measure up? 

John Mayhugh

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2009, 12:16:08 AM »
Other heathland courses were Swinley Forest and Walton Heath Old.

It's hard to compare the three courses to each other.  Though they all are in the heathland category, they are much different from each other.  Of those three, I liked SF the best, but if you have ever been there it's easy to understand why. WS is wonderful and well worth the trip down to Pulborough.

I could play any of them on my next trip and be thrilled.

Sean_A

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2009, 05:26:51 AM »
John

Thank you for the lovely pix.  I must make it back down there some day - my memory is fading because I don't recall #s 4 & 5 looking so good.

I presume more pix will follow?

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Benbecula, Askernish, Traigh, Minehead, St Medan, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Tom MacWood

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2009, 09:08:11 AM »
Lovely is the word that came to my mind too, thanks.

Paul Nash

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2009, 09:53:26 AM »
I have got to play this next year - I suspect that I will prefer it to all the surrey/berks and hants courses apart from, maybe, my current favorite Hankley. Looking forward to the rest of the photos

James Boon

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2009, 03:58:10 PM »
John,

Thanks for posting these pictures. Looked fairly average to start but each hole just seems to get better. I look forward to some more pictures.

The fairway bunker on 3 looks tough, with heather short of it as well as around the front face. I'd certainly rather be in the sand there!!!

Cheers,

James
2023 Highlights: Hollinwell (Notts), Brora, Aberdovey, Royal St Davids, Woodhall Spa, Broadstone, Parkstone, Cleeve, Painswick, Minchinhampton, Hoylake

"It celebrates the unadulterated pleasure of being in a dialogue with nature while knocking a ball round on foot." Richard Pennell

John Mayhugh

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2009, 04:38:44 PM »

I presume more pix will follow?


Tonight or tomorrow.  I'm good for about three pics at a time.

John Mayhugh

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2009, 09:25:22 PM »
The seventh is a long par four 441/427.  The tee shot here is uphill and blind.  You can barely see a directional marker at the top of the hill by where the path ends just left of the bunker.  Heather and trees on both sides of the fairway.





You can tell from this photo that the fairway is plenty wide.  The green is tucked back into the trees, with an especially large one protecting the right side.  Sorry not to have any photos from closer to the green.



Player and best friend can stop for a drink before the tee shot on the 8th.



The 8th is another par 3, the third in the last four holes.   It's 185/171 and slightly uphill.  The front of the green is pinched in by bunkers.  That's the 16th green to the left.



An indication of how much rise there is to this green.





A look back to the tee.  The 16th green to the right.  8th tee is just right of the path and the 7th on the left side of the path.



The ninth is a reasonably short par four of 352/336.  The tee shot is complicated by out of bounds to the right and a diagonal hazard that starts to cross the fairway about 90 yards from the green.



The ditch is pretty narrow and runs within 30 or so yards from the green on the right side. 



Anthony Gray

Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2009, 09:34:42 PM »


  John,

 Not links, but it looks like it plays fast and firm. Did it?

  Thanks for the photos,

  Anthony


Philip Gawith

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2009, 03:54:37 AM »
Thanks John - it is a great course, and looks unlike anything else in the UK on account of the bunkering which is straight out of the sandbelt in Melbourne!

Sean_A

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2009, 04:34:09 AM »
Thanks John - it is a great course, and looks unlike anything else in the UK on account of the bunkering which is straight out of the sandbelt in Melbourne!

Philip

Its funny you mention the Sandbelt look for the bunkers.  Those are the ones which I think are badly conceived as they don't fit the landscape at all.  I also don't have any memory of such stark lines for the bunker edges from may play there many moons ago. 

John - thanks again for the tour.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Benbecula, Askernish, Traigh, Minehead, St Medan, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Paul_Turner

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2009, 09:47:00 AM »
I like Peter Allen's comments:

I think if I had to choose one example to demonstrate the best sort of British inland course, to explain what it was trying to do to provide entertainment, and why it had to be so different from a links, to some men from Mars or a group of intelligent Americans, I think I would pick Pulborough, much as I love Woking, Liphook, St. George’s Hill, and a dozen others.’

can't get to heaven with a three chord song

Paul_Turner

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2009, 10:11:53 AM »
I have got to play this next year - I suspect that I will prefer it to all the surrey/berks and hants courses apart from, maybe, my current favorite Hankley. Looking forward to the rest of the photos

Paul

I'm surprised at that...I think there are at least 20 heath or heath style courses in England that are superior to Hankley.
can't get to heaven with a three chord song

Paul Nash

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2009, 03:37:40 PM »
Paul - I know it is all very subjective but there is nowhere that I have played that has that sense of seclusion and space as hankley - and I love the course design, variety and flow. I certainly prefer it to all the others around London and I have played nearly all of them - not Sunningdale. The other courses of this ilk I would like to play most are Broadstone, Sherwood, Notts, Beau, Sandiway, Delamere, Ipswich, Ganton and Albeburgh. My top 5 so far would probably be Hankley, Woodhall, Swinley and the Berkshire (both) - which i would rate/ like above Wentworth (all), Woking, Worplesdon, West hill, new Zealand, Walton Heath (both), St george's Hill, the Addington, North Hants, Blackmoor, Liphhok, Hindhead and Camberley - although I don't think there is a huge amount separating them all and I can see how many people will have different favourites - but for me, if I had to choose one of these to play forever more, I wuld choose Hankley

Mark Chaplin

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2009, 04:16:50 PM »
Paul Turner - have to back up Mr Nash here, i've played all the top south east heaths and HC takes some beating. Today we played off the purple tees at 6800, the course is genuinely tough as well as having some great holes and fine par 3s. The new third tee makes a true test, against a moderate breeze long drives req'd 6 irons to get home.

Also Hankley is untouched by motorways, railways, road crossings, firing ranges or any other assualt on the senses.

A proper ***** experience. 
Cave Nil Vino

Philip Gawith

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2009, 06:19:09 PM »
Sean i think the Sandbelt look goes a bit beyond the sharpness of the lines in one or two, which i admit look a bit different, though not sure i feel as strongly as you do! I think it is partly also the colour of the sand, which is grayer and lighter than on most heathland courses. I also recall some other bunker complexes on the course which had a sandbelt feel without necessarily having the sharp edges.

John Mayhugh

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2009, 09:53:04 PM »
Anthony,
Pulborough played reasonably fast and firm as did the other heathlands.  Not as much so as the links courses, but much different from courses I play in the US!

Philip & Sean,
If all goes well, I hope to join in the sandbelt comparison discussion around April 2011. 

Kevin Pallier

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2009, 11:41:36 PM »
Philip & Sean,
If all goes well, I hope to join in the sandbelt comparison discussion around April 2011. 

JM

I hope that happens  ;)

I thought WS placed a premium on iron play as any a course - as far as my experience on the healthbelt ?

Sean_A

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2009, 04:39:52 AM »
Sean i think the Sandbelt look goes a bit beyond the sharpness of the lines in one or two, which i admit look a bit different, though not sure i feel as strongly as you do! I think it is partly also the colour of the sand, which is grayer and lighter than on most heathland courses. I also recall some other bunker complexes on the course which had a sandbelt feel without necessarily having the sharp edges.

Philip

I wasn't suggesting the Sandbelt was all about the style of the bunkers, only that the sharpness of the bunkers at Pulborough doesn't suit my eye.  They look too contrived, but I spose the bunkers play as well as many other heathland courses.   

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Benbecula, Askernish, Traigh, Minehead, St Medan, Hankley Common, Ashridge, Gog Magog Old & Cruden Bay St Olaf

John Mayhugh

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2009, 12:17:14 PM »
The tenth is a dog-leg left par four of 395/385.  The entire right side is bordered by trees and out of bounds which definitely encourages a tee shot that skirts bunkers on the inside of the dogleg.  Cutting the corner seems more appealing until you notice there are a couple of bunkers on the strokesaver that cannot be seen from the tee.





The bunker you see on the right side is well short of the green.  You can just see a ridge around the center of the green running left to right.






The eleventh goes the other direction, left to right.  Here there is OOB along the right side and heather on the left.  This is the number one stroke index hole and plays 449/433.  The bunker complex on the right is around 230 from the tee.  The look from the tee really encourages you to try to drive up the right side.





Would be nice to have this along with the course for your weekend retreat from London.  Supposedly this place started out as the greenkeeper's cottage.



Need to avoid the large bunker on the right short of the green.  Balls funnel down into it rather easily.  However, there is also gorse left of the green so one shouldn't play too safe.





The eleventh fairway seemed as good a spot as any to take a photo of the brown grass.  I wanted to be able to prove to some skeptical friends that it's not all dirt over there.   



For such a long hole, this was a heavily contoured green.



The 12th is a long par three 221/199.  From the tee, it seems as though the carry is over gorse pretty much the whole way to the green, but there is a probably 30 yards of fairway short.  The tee shot is slightly uphill.



I loved the look of this path through the heather. 



Part of the second bunker on the right side.  The green is somewhat diagonal to the tee.










John Mayhugh

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #22 on: October 29, 2009, 07:09:58 PM »
The 13th is one of the best looking holes at Pulborough.  It's a par four 382/365 with heather in front of the tee and on each side of the fairway.  It's 235 to get past the bunker on the left side.


There is a huge bunker complex that obscures much of the green on the approach and unless you have just the right line from the right side of the fairway you will need to carry it all the way to the green.




Pretty steep green slope from back to front.  These are from the left side of the green.




Looking over from the 14th tee.



The 14th is a long par four 433/420 over an expanse of heather.  The hole curves slightly to the right.


The right side of the fairway is lined with gorse.  Your approach needs to carry bunkers that are about 100 yards from the green. The green is protected by a large bunker on the right and there is a small pond on the left that plays as OB.




The bank on the left is fairly steep.  Narrow green.


The 15th is the final par 3 145/128.  It might look at home on a lot of courses in the US.


A great looking two-tiered green. 










Bill_McBride

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #23 on: October 29, 2009, 09:13:29 PM »
For those who have played both, doesn't the tee shot on #12 look a lot like the tee shot on #12 at Alwoodley?  Same heather to carry, same trees on the left, same gentle dogleg left.



For those who are completely wound up about historical precedents, templates, etc, perhaps the designers of WS visited Alwoodley?

Just kidding!   ;D ;D

I really like all the bunkers that are 50-80 yards short of the greens but look closer.  That's a great defensive strategy for the designer, messing with your depth perception.   Crafty buggers.

Andrew Mitchell

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Re: West Sussex aka Pulborough - photo tour
« Reply #24 on: October 30, 2009, 03:22:45 AM »
Nice pics John, keep 'em coming!
2014 to date: not actually played anywhere yet!
Still to come: Hollins Hall; Ripon City; Shipley; Perranporth; St Enodoc

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