It was Commander George Hillyard who conceived the idea of a golf club on sandy farmland at Wiggonholt near Pulborough. His house overlooked an area of heather and marsh which he thought would make an idyllic setting for a natural course. How right he was! This land was subsequently purchased by the Ravenscroft and Henderson families and then leased to the newly formed West Sussex Golf Club.
The course was designed and constructed by the renowned architects Campbell and Hutchison and completed in September 1930 when play started. (From 2006, Hotchkin was recognised for his significant contribution to West Sussex)
It was an immediate success, as illustrated in this extract from The Morning Post dated Thursday 4th September 1930:-
"The course is laid out over a heather moor, rising suddenly and surprisingly out of meadow and marshland that is characteristic of Sussex....It is absolutely ideal golfing country....Every type of hole and shot in the game are there".
The official opening, on Saturday 25 April 1931, was carried out in such stormy weather that an exhibition match had to be abandoned and rearranged for the next day. The participants were Joyce Wethered and Wanda Morgan versus Roger Wethered and Raymond Oppenheimer. Over 36 holes foursomes, the ladies received 6 stokes and were victorious by 5&3.
Overall, West Sussex has changed very little since it was constructed. Most notable is the prolific growth of trees, mainly pine and birch planted in the 1930's. In those early days, the course was more of an open heath in character and the boundaries, such as the third tee and the tenth fairway, could be clearly seen from the clubhouse
Besides the inevitable lengthening of many holes with new tees, and the sixth hole being changed from a dog leg par four to the present formidable straight par three, the only other significant alteration has been the loss of so many bunkers to ever increasing costs of course maintenance and the inability of machinery to prepare bunkers designed for manual raking. More recently, several new strategic bunkers have been introduced and new sites for heather have been established.
Above is a reproduction of George Hillyard's portrait, painted by Charles Ambrose, which now hangs in the clubhouse lounge. His notable contribution to the club is acknowledged by the Hillyard Trophy which is still competed for.