Sweetwoods Park Golf Club

Sweetwoods Park Golf Club

Type of course? Parkland/Downland

Pleasant staff? Did their job

Best hole? I really liked the 18th. It’s a short par 4 with a tree in the middle of the fairway, which makes for a tricky drive, but the second shot is even trickier. The green is down the slope and is well protected by a couple of bunkers. The best way to come in is to float a ball above the bunkers and land it softly on the green so it catches the slope towards the pin. That was too risky as my ball was lying on a bare bit, so I aimed right of the bunkers, hoping my ball would bounce down towards the green. It didn’t. Still got a par thanks to a very good chip.

Après golf? A very good eggs royale before and a soft drink after with our friends on the lovely terrace in the sunshine. Very peaceful, so nice to be away from noisy roads.

Nice round? Good, solid golf and a proper catch up with my friends Hsien and Judith from Cuckfield GC. My meeting Judith is the subject of an ongoing controversy: I’m convinced I met her when I trounced her in a match on her own course, but her memory is clearly going a bit as she insists I never beat her and we met at an Open. Anyway, they’re both great fun and we always have a brilliant time together.

Special memory? The wildlife: a hairy deer scampering across the fairway, a huge heron gliding above us and loads of friendly fishes coming up to say hello when we walked past one of the ponds.

Must play again? Yes. It’s a varied, friendly course in gorgeous countryside. Oh and the Lady Captain came to chat to us, which added to the pleasantness of it all.

Nevill Golf Club

Nevill Golf Club

Type of course? Parkland

Pleasant staff? Really, really lovely golf pro. He couldn’t have made us feel more welcome.

Best hole? I really enjoyed every hole, but the 14th par 4 (SI 1 for women) was brilliant. I love an elevated green and the stream just before the green makes for an interesting second shot (I thought I’d keep things simple and went in the water).

Après golf? Another late round meant that we had to shoot off, but the clubhouse terrace was very inviting.

Nice round? Excellent. I do enjoy parkland courses after all! Every hole was different, the fairways were wide enough to accommodate my creative angles and every hole made you think.

Special memory? A magnificent 5 iron into the 12th green. Mostly because I was playing with an excellent golfer who I look up to and I think she was genuinely impressed!

Must play again? I would love to.

Haywards Heath Golf Club

Haywards Heath Golf Club

Type of course? Parkland

Pleasant staff? Nice friendly pro

Best hole? None stood out

Après golf? This was an after-work practice round for an important match (not for me), so the clubhouse was closed.

Nice round? It was ok. Maybe I should stop reviewing parkland courses because I just don’t like them and I don’t like not liking golf courses. I like slopes that take your ball into inextricable rough where you end up finding 10 balls, but never yours. I also like views and I don’t like trees. I grew up on the edge of the biggest pine tree forest in Europe and frankly, I’ve had enough of trees for a lifetime. This one was just very up, down, along the path, up, down, along the path…

Special memory? This will forever be remembered as the round where Jo got an elephant-sized leg from an insect bite. Impressive stuff, not for the faint-hearted.

Must play again? No and it’ll soon be covered in houses anyway.

Rusper Golf Club

Rusper Golf Club

Type of course? Trees and ditches

Pleasant staff? Lovely – we particularly appreciated them bringing us bottles of cold water while we were playing

Best hole? None stood out

Après golf? Great ploughman in the lovely shady outside area. I really like the whole ambiance of the club: very welcoming, unpretentious and down to earth.

Nice round? Trees and ditches and deafening planes every 20 seconds overhead – no

Special memory? The only thing I did well was to use my 7 iron from 50/60 yards to get the ball on the green with a little bump and run shot. I’ve never been comfortable with that shot, but the lies were so tight that I didn’t want to hit a wedge. Anyway, it worked and that was about the only good thing about the round.

Must play again? No

Horsham Golf and Fitness

Horsham Golf and Fitness

Type of course? Parkland.

Pleasant staff? Yes.

Best hole? None stood out.

Après golf? It was a match, so we had average quiche and salad afterwards.

Nice round? My opponent was lovely and I played well, so yes.

Special memory? My opponent making a rare mistake and going into a pond. All I had to do to win the hole was avoid the pond and put the ball on the green. Simple, no? Splash.

Must play again? No. I’m just not a fan of parkland courses.

Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club

Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club

Type of course? Links.

Pleasant staff? Again, no pro shop. Is it a Northern thing? Again, efficient and nice service from the ladies behind the bar.

Best hole? The 13th par 3. It’s not really about the hole, but more about the view you get from the tee of the impressive ruins of 14th century Dunstanburgh Castle. As a backdrop to a green, it doesn’t get much more impressive. It was also quite funny to take our shot with a little crowd watching us. There’s a walking path that runs along the green and people wisely wait until you’ve played before moving on.

Après golf? An extremely satisfying bacon and roll bap outside, looking at the beach goers, surfers and golfers going about their seaside business.

Nice round? Ruined castles and golf are two of my favourite things, so mix both and I’m a happy girl. Again, the weather and the pace of play were perfect. The course follows the dunes towards the South, so you get to enjoy amazing views of Embleton Bay and of the remains of Dunstanburg Castle. The fairways and entrances to the greens are fairly tight and the dunes vegetation was dense, with beautiful wildflowers, so a couple of balls might have been lost (we both scored 33 points), but it made for a great challenge.

Special memory? Running to the top of the dunes alongside the 9th to see what was on the other side and discovering the beautiful Embleton Bay in all its sunny glory.

Must play again? I would love to. It’s a fun and challenging course, even without the wind. I really liked that this section of the Northumberland coast is enjoyed by many walkers, beach goers, surfers and of course golfers, everyone mixing without any apparent problem. This is a very welcoming golf course at one with its environment. Also in my top 3.