Fore! Golf in Kent
Kent is home to some of the very finest golf courses in the country – perhaps even in the world – and considering that approximately 11 million people in the UK (which equates to around one fifth of the population) play golf, it’s no wonder that they love to visit this county of ours to get a round (or two) in when they can. If you like the idea of a good game of golf, or are a novie wanting to learn how to play, then why not visit some of these fantastic Kentish courses?
Hever Castle Golf Club // www.hever.co.uk/golf // 01732 701004
Famed for its castle and award-winning gardens, the historic Hever estate is also home to a 7,000-yard championship golf course along with the testing Princes 9-hole course. The club’s 27 holes reside in an inspirational setting offering a range of course and teeing options to suit all levels of ability from beginner to professional.
While golf has been played on the estate since the 1920s, the current championship course was laid out as recently as 1992, although with the many fine, ancient tree specimens it has the feeling of a being a well-established course.
Off the course, their Tudor Clubhouse offers a warm welcome featuring The Astor Lounge Bar & Restaurant and expansive outdoor terrace. Visitors and golf days are welcome outside of members times. Membership is currently open with no joining fee. For more information or to book a discounted preview round please call Steve on 01732 701004.
Leeds Castle // www.leeds-castle.com/golf // 01622 767828
This par 34, 2,843-yard course was originally built on the 500-acre Leeds Castle estate in 1931 by Sir Guy Campbell of West Sussex GC fame. Overseen by golf course architect Alan Walker, Leeds Castle golf course is involved in an exciting redevelopment programme where the course has benefitted from a new irrigation system, bunker landscaping, the levelling and relaying of all tees, as well as input from top agronomists, STRi, to make the course look great 365 days a year. Alan Walker, PGA professional, past captain of the PGA and golf consultant, commented on the redesign and renovation programme: “Sir Guy Campbell did a terrific job originally, but like many courses, golf equipment and new technology have meant that it’s become necessary to look at how the course can be updated successfully, retaining all the best things about it while enhancing the challenge for the modern golfer.”
Knole Park Golf Club // www.knoleparkgolfclub.co.uk // 01732 452150
Unique among golf courses in the UK, Knole Park Golf Club is located within 1,000 acres of outstanding parkland, home to the finest deer herd in the South East. The house at Knole, one of the greatest National Trust properties in the country, together with Knole Park itself, provides the perfect backdrop to this challenging course that was designed by J. Abercromby in consultation with James Braid. The course has been enjoyed by its members and visitors since 1924.
Regularly named as one of the top 100 courses in England by golf magazines, Knole Park Golf Course, at just under 6,500 yards from the green (back) tees, with a par of 70 and a CSS of 71, is a course steeped in history and a truly inspiring place to play. The club hosts the Kent Youth Championship, is the home of the prestigious Kent Cob Amateur scratch competition, and has hosted the English Seniors Championship and a number of TP Tour events.
Tudor Park, Marriott Hotel & Country Club // www.marriottgolf.co.uk/club/tudor-park // 01622 632007
Tudor Park is part of the world-renowned Marriott Hotel group, so you already know before you even take your first swing that what you find there will be absolute quality. Tudor Park is your chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday, busy life, and relax in a tranquil environment where you can also enjoy a marvellous game of golf.
The Tudor Park course was designed in 1988 by Donald Steel, one of Britain’s finest course architects. It is an exhilarating showcase of his skills – 6,085 yards of beautifully varied holes accompanied by delightful views over this picturesque corner of Kent. When playing here you will find an interesting mix of both long and short holes, many of them with tight fairways. Despite the challenge that these holes throw up, the beauty of your surroundings will keep you centred, and, with a little practice, you might even come in under par. In recent years, Tudor Park has hosted prestigious events including the EuroPro Tour on three occasions, the Kent PGA Pro-Am and, in 2010, the English PGA Championship (South) qualifier.
North Foreland // www.northforeland.co.uk // 01843 862140
North Foreland is coastal golf at its very best. North Foreland Golf Club, with its superb clifftop chalk downland course, offers stunning panoramic views from every tee and every green. North Foreland is, year after year, rated as one of the premier courses in Kent due to the fact that there are no temporary greens through the winter – it’s all natural and all North Foreland.
The distance on the holes throughout the Northcliffe course varies between 50 and 140 yards, and on the main course there are 11 particularly tricky par fours to navigate.
London Golf Club // www.londongolfclub.com // 01474 879899
In a world where the finest details matter, London Golf Club continues to raise the bar with 36-holes of Jack Nicklaus-designed championship golf in impeccable condition all year round, an award-winning clubhouse, first-class hospitality, and exceptional service. Whether a member or a guest, you can be sure you’ll have an experience to remember both on and off course from the moment you drive through the gates and into the glorious surroundings of the South East’s finest golfing destination.
The Heritage course is a Jack Nicklaus Signature design that bears all the hallmarks of the 18-time major champion. Host to the 2008 and 2009 European Open, the course provides an exhilarating test for golfers of all abilities. Maintained in pristine condition all year round, with fast-rolling greens and immaculately presented tee boxes and fairways, Heritage is rightly regarded as one of the country’s finest golfing experiences.
The International course is pure downland. Long grasses sway in an ever-changing breeze. The course is naturally firmer and the quick undulating fairways force a links-style approach, while short holes over water provide dramatic respite. Home of the 2014 Volvo World Match Play Championship and having hosted both Regional Open Qualifying and European Tour Qualifying School, this course proves a tough test for the most talented of golfers while providing the opportunity to shoot some great scores with a number of risk-reward holes.
Etchinghill Golf Course // www.pentlandgolf.co.uk/etchinghill // 01303 863863
The courses at Etchinghill in Folkestone include the Leas Course, the Valley Course, and the Academy Course.
The 6,101-yard Leas Course is Etchinghill’s main 18-hole golf course. Stretching across the beautiful Kentish downland countryside, it comprises five par 3s, ten par 4s and three par 5s, posing a fantastic challenge to golfers of all abilities. The magnificent Elham Valley lends its name to the versatile Valley Course. The course is made up of nine holes played from multiple tee positions to give the option of nine or eighteen holes. This 5,592-yard course combines four par 3s, twelve par 4s and two par 5s into a wonderfully impressive test for all golfers. The par 3 Academy Course is popular with families and beginners alike. Extending over an area of stunning natural parkland, it offers great golf challenges for every golfer.
Chart Hills Golf Club // www.charthills.co.uk // 01580 292222
The award-winning course at Chart Hills in the High Weald of Kent has Sir Nick Faldo’s clever hand all over it. He designed the course, making it both diverse and challenging, and one of the most popular in the South East of England. It’s in a great location too – just 20 minutes from Ashford International station yet sitting in 200 acres of the most gorgeous Kentish countryside you can imagine. When you join Chart Hills you will also gain access to the fantastic intelligent golf online management system making it easier for you to plan and organise your game, view your handicap and the course status.
Princes Golf Club // www.princesgolfclub.co.uk // 01304 611118
With stunning views of the coast from Sandwich Bay, Prince’s Golf Club is East Kent’s premier golfing venue. There are three 9-hole courses here offering 27 holes to get your teeth into. Take your time over one, or try all three – the choice is yours. Each course (Shore, Dunes and Himalayas) is different to the next, but the quality of the course and the enjoyment you’ll get from playing there is what links them all together.
Dale Hill // www.golfclub.co.uk // 01580 200112
With over 350 acres of grounds, the two courses at Dale Hill are laid out to take in the best of the surrounding scenery. The High Weald is at its best here and playing golf in such a lovely place must be good for the soul.
Both the courses at Dale Hill are 18 holes. The first, designed by Ian Woosnam, is, as Woosnam himself puts it: “challenging enough to test the pros, yet accessible enough to be enjoyed by amateurs.” You can’t ask for much more than that when it comes to golf – a place where everyone can enjoy the game on the same course for different reasons. The Dale Hill course is the original one on the site, but has lost none of its charm and makes for a very satisfying round of golf.
Westgate & Birchington Golf Club // www.wabgc.co.uk // 01843 831115
Westgate and Birchington is a clifftop 18-hole course of 4,877 yards with stunning views over the sea between the towns of Westgate-on-Sea and Birchington. It is suitable for players of all ages. The clubhouse at Westgate and Birchington is open daily, offering refreshments to members and visiting golfers alike. The dining area, seating up to sixty diners, affords beautiful views over the course while the lounge and the bar are the perfect places to relax after a round of golf. Secure changing facilities for both men and women are available. Both members and visitors are welcome.
London Beach // www.londonbeach.com // 01580 766279
The London Beach Hotel is a magnificent place on its own merit, but add to the luxury a fabulous and challenging golf course and you’ve got the perfect place to play. Not only can you turn up and play to your heart’s content (and, when doing so, indulge in those hotel spa facilities for reduced rates), you can also improve your game by signing up to the excellent tuition breaks that take place at London Beach. There is a break designed to match any level of ability and experience, and the resident golf pro will gladly show you how to get your handicap down.
Lullingstone Park Golf Club // www.sencio.org.uk/golf-lullingstone // 01959 533793
At Lullingstone Park Golf Club there are two fantastic courses to choose from. If you want a quick game on a 9-hole course try the Valley Course. It may be shorter than Lullingstone’s second course, but it shouldn’t be underestimated – it’s a definite test of ability and the 9th hole is especially challenging; it’s a par 3 and is much harder than it looks. The longer, 18-hole course is the Castle Course and it is from here that you will find the best views of Lullingstone Castle and the area around it. At 6,713 yards this one will really keep you thinking all the way round.
Cherry Lodge Golf Club // www.cherrylodgegc.co.uk // 01959 572250
Cherry Lodge Golf Club was founded in 1969 and since then it has played host to thousands of avid golfers who enjoy the thrill of the 6,593-yard, par-72 course which is an impressive 600 feet above sea level. And, although this is a private club with membership required, it is a modern, unpretentious kind of place. Visitors are always welcome and with such beautifully kept grounds and lovely surroundings, it’s not hard to see why Cherry Lodge is so beloved.