‘We had nudity on the greens!’ The battle over Britain’s golf courses


The country’s fairways take up a huge amount of green space – and many were thrown open to the public during lockdown. Should that change be made permanent?

Hollingbury golf course is a big splodge of green bleeding into Brighton’s grey urban sprawl. For more than a century, its 18 holes have risen above the seaside city towards the ruins of an iron age hillfort, which is now enclosed by holes nine, 12, 13, and 14. From Hollingbury’s highest point, it is possible to look west on a clear day and see the hills of the Isle of Wight.

As housing has spread around the course, which is owned by the council, so has tension between golfers and walkers, who are permitted to cut across it on a network of footpaths and old drovers’ tracks. Relations seem calm on the autumn day I visit, but I gather “Fore!” is not the only four-letter exclamation to have bounced along the manicured fairways.

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