Fancy a golfing day out in the South of England then head to Brighton where you’ll find plenty of great options to get out on the greens and work on your handicap. There are 7 courses within a short distance of the city which allow pay and play.
Our 7 Great Pay N Play Public Golf Courses in Brighton, UK include the two public courses of Waterhall and Hollingbury as well as 5 private courses that include Brighton & Hove, East Brighton, West Hove, Pyecombe and Lewes.
What Is A Public Golf Course?
It’s probably best to start by defining what we mean by a “public golf course”. In much of British life the words “public” and “private” are very much confused. For example, when the rest of the world says a child “goes to a private school”, the British say, “the child goes to a public school”.
The reasons for this are long and complex but fortunately, they don’t matter very much because in this case we’re defining a “public golf course” as any golf course where a member of the public can turn up and play golf without a membership.
These tend to fall into categories:
- Local authority courses. These are, by far, the most affordable golf courses in the United Kingdom because they are run by the local authority for the benefit of locals. But let’s not pretend that they’re “cheap” either, you still need golf clothes, clubs, lessons, etc. in order to play and while they may be local authority-owned; most of them have the same kinds of rules as privately owned golf clubs – they’re just less expensive in terms of the green fees.
- Daily fee private courses or semi-private courses. That is a course that is owned by a private company (or sometimes an individual) that you pay a daily fee to access. These are often nicer than the local authority courses in terms of design and facilities, but their fees reflect this and their rules around attire, behaviour, etc. are often even more strict.
It’s worth noting that Brighton doesn’t really have many resort golf courses (i.e. golf courses which are part of a luxury hotel complex) which require you to stay at the hotel in order to golf but if it did, we wouldn’t count them because though they are technically “public”, a requirement to stay in a hotel means that they are unaffordable to most members of the public.
Brighton’s Two Local Authority Golf Courses
Brighton is blessed with two excellent local authority courses which are not too stuffy. We prefer Waterhall but the other, Hollingbury is a great place too.
About Waterhall Golf Course, Brighton
Waterhall has a decent website which is run by MyTime active. Annoyingly, if you want to book a tee time – you need to sign up for an account on the site (it’s free) before they will share pricing with you. We think that’s a bit unnecessary but what can you do?
This is a super par 69-course and there is a spectacular amount of surrounding scenery including majestic views of the Devil’s Dyke and the, locally, famous Patcham Windmill. You can pay and play almost every day.
There are membership packages if you want to go on a more regular basis and there are a wide-range of options. Again, you need to sign up on the website to explore all of them but doing so gives you a discount on group classes, driving range balls and rounds of golf – so, it’s worth doing.
They offer a wide range of other exercise classes and activities from the same group in Brighton which include: abs work, adults only swimming, aerobics, Aqua Zumba (yes, Zumba in the pool), Aqua Fit, Baby Boogie (a child’s dance class for mums and babies), Baby bops (for toddlers), Badminton, Ballet, Ballet Fit, Big Ball and Bands (Swiss balls & resistance bands), BodyattackTM (high intensity aerobics), BodycombatTM (cardio), BodypumpTM (barbells), BodystepTM (step classes), Bowling, Box Fit, Breakfast & After School Clubs, Children’s Parties, Circuit Training, Creche, Dance Fit, Disney Family Swim, Diving, Driving Range, eGym, ESCAPE-Pain (for arthritis sufferers), Express Stretch, Family Splash, Fight Club ®, FitStepsTM, Flowetic, Football, Football Skills Academy, FootGolf, Freestyle Step, Group Cycling, Gym, Gymnastics, Hatha Yoga, Health Assessments, HIT Circuits, Hot Yoga, Hula Hoops, Hypnobirthing, Inflatable Swim Session, InsanityTM (hardcore aerobics), Keep Fit, Kettlebells, Latin Beats, Legs, Bums and Tums, Line Dancing, Martial Arts, MYZONE, Personal Training, Pilates, PiloxingTM (Pilates and Boxing fusion), PiYo (pilates and yoga), Pole Dancing, Post Natal Exercises, Posture & Core Workouts, Pound ® (cardio and more), Power Stretch, Power Yoga, Powerbag Boot Camp), Pregnancy Conditioning, Pregnancy Yoga, PureStretch, Relax & Recharge, Remember to Move, Salsa, Seated Yoga, Sequence Dancing, Shred & Tone, Sivanada Yoga, Soft Play, SOSA ® Dance, Squash, Street Dance, Strength & Stability, Stretch & Relax, Strong by Zumba®, Sunrise Yoga, Swim Fitness, Swimming, Swimming Lessons, Table Tennis, Tap Dancing, Target 30 (30 minute workout), Tiny Tots & Toddler Yoga, Toddler Sing & Splash, Total Body Workout, Trampolining, Triple Challenge, Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Waves & Flumes, Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Yogalates, and Zumba®.
We’re worn out just typing that lot. As you can see, there’s plenty to do when you’re not playing golf at Waterhall.
There’s also a function room for hire if you’re looking to hold a corporate or personal event.
About Hollingbury Golf Course, Brighton
Also on the South Downs, Hollingbury is an 18-hole course which also provides a fantastic 19th hole in the form of The Spike Bar (we can recommend visiting even if you’re not partial to a drink, it offers some of the best views we’ve ever seen).
This is also run by My Time Active and the same booking system is in place for this course as Waterhall, and again the group offers a huge variety of events in addition to golf.
Sadly, for both of Brighton’s local authority-owned courses, they’re on the market to be sold to the highest bidder as the local authority says that interest in golf has dropped dramatically in the last 8 years and they are no longer certain that these fabulous courses are the best use of the land. We hope that doesn’t happen because they are a substantial asset for the city.
Brighton’s Daily Fee Private Pay N Play Public Golf Courses
Brighton & Hove Golf Club
As the oldest golf club in Sussex, Brighton & Hove has been a bright feature of Brighton’s Golfing History for 130 years. Green fees are quite reasonable for a private club and while they do offer membership options, membership is not compulsory and you can easily book a tee time from their website.
One good thing about playing on the South Downs is that the chalk soil offers incredibly fast drainage and it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, you’re sure to get a good 18 in at the Brighton & Hove Golf Club, the longest they’ve ever been closed due to weather is half a day!
You aren’t required to provide a handicap certificate on the day but you should play to a reasonable standard and if not, you may be asked to leave. Dress code is strictly enforced and jeans are only acceptable in the clubhouse.
This is a 9 hole down land-links course (with 18 tees) and it’s one of the most popular options for a game in the vicinity.
The clubhouse itself is a pleasant place for a meal and a drink even if you’re not going to play golf at the course and you can also book it for a wedding reception or corporate event. They offer solid onsite catering options and can manage groups of up to 100 without a problem.
East Brighton Golf Club
Green fees are a little higher at the East Brighton Golf Club than at Brighton & Hove but given its location right next to Brighton Marina, you can understand this. You can easily book a tee time on their web booking service, which somewhat annoyingly is separate to their main website. You can also book a buggy if you need one at the same time.
The club opened in 1893 and is very well-established in the city’s golfing heritage. It was once owned by the local authority but after Brighton & Hove council tried to force the rent up in 1992 to more than 20 times the previous rent – the club took them to court and when the court forced the council to accept a more reasonable rent, they sold the land to the club for £600,000 in 1996.
They offer a full 18 holes though some greens may be temporary during the Winter months due to weather and course maintenance efforts. They also support the Play More Golf membership scheme which allows you to buy a membership to 100 clubs across the country and receive member benefits at all of them.
The Club House is more than 100 years old and is constantly being improved to set global standards of hospitality. In the summer, you can often find an excellent BBQ on their terrace. You can easily book the Club House for other events such weddings, funerals, corporate events, too.
One nice thing about East Brighton Golf Club is that you can get there by bus, which makes it very accessible from the city.
West Hove Golf Club
West Hove is reasonably priced when compared to the other private clubs and you can easily get a tee time as long as you book 3 days in advance on their web service (again not on their main website). You must pay a deposit of £100 in advance. All golfers are obliged to comply with the (fairly reasonable) dress code which can be downloaded here.
It was founded in 1910 which makes it relatively new to the city, but it was relocated in 1991 which makes it much newer than its history would suggest. It’s on the A27 near the Hangleton Interchange and is officially within the boundaries of the South Downs National Park.
The course itself is a challenging par 70 over 18 holes. As you’d expect, it’s built over chalk and drainage is excellent. Weather doesn’t stop play at West Hove Golf Club very often.
It has received the prestigious GolfMark award that means it’s a great club for beginners and for younger golfers.
Their modern clubhouse building is luxurious, and you’ll find that you can get a great view of the national park while you enjoy an exceptional lunch and a few drinks.
We’ve always been impressed with their disabled access and facilities which are, in part, due to the modern nature of the club.
It is home to the only 18-bay driving range in the area and if you’re just looking to hit balls for a bit, it can be the best club to choose.
Pyecombe Golf Club
Pyecombe is a bit of a drive from the main city and is the most “country” of the golf clubs on our list. It is fully within the boundaries of the South Downs National Park and we’d recommend checking it out at least once for the amazing views of the Sussex Weald.
It was sculpted by James Braid in 1894 and the course was way ahead of its time in terms of integration with the local environment. You’re bound to encounter some beautiful fauna and flora at Pyecombe if you keep your eyes peeled. Pyecombe is the proud recipient of an STRI National Environmental Golf Club.
We can also recommend the well-kept fairways and super greens if you’re looking for a great game of golf (which is the important thing, right?). It has been chosen as Southern Counties Golf Club of the Year in recent years too.
Green fees are very reasonable at most times of day which makes it more cost-effective than other private courses. You can book tee times (again on a portal, not their website) online here. They also offer an online booking service for golf carts at the same time.
The Clubhouse is an elegant affair with the capacity to host up to 100 people at an event for a finger buffet or 70 if you require seated, formal meals. They also have a dance floor to ensure the event goes with a swing.
Not everyone in the area is familiar with Pyecombe but everyone probably should be.
Lewes Golf Club
Also a fair drive from Brighton City Centre, Lewes Golf Club is the final choice on our list. But this doesn’t make it the least choice by a long chalk. Speaking of chalk as with almost all of Brighton’s courses, Lewes drains really well – rain doesn’t stop play often here.
It was built in 1896 and is one of the oldest clubs in the area, it is not on the South Downs but offers superb views of the national park as you play. In fact, if the weather is clear – you can see as far as the North Downs from the fairways.
Green fees are among the lowest of the private courses and if you’re looking for the best value for your money – Lewes Golf Club is probably it. As long as you’re not paying for petrol to get there that is.
Their dress code is strict and very traditional – no jeans, tracksuits, short trousers (full length only, no compromises), etc. and you must wear a shirt and tuck it in. Mobile phones are also strictly regulated on the course. These rules are relaxed in the clubhouse.
The clubhouse is very new as it was built in 1996 and offers drinks and food all year round. However, be warned if the rain stops play – the clubhouse may close early too. They are also happy to cater to groups.
So, there you have it. 7 great pay and play golf course in Brighton. We hope that our brief introduction to each of them has whetted your appetite to tee off over the South Downs and to get out in the fantastic countryside that surrounds Brighton.