GET ON THE GREEN
Golf is a game that is by turns wonderful and challenging, and that’s why so many people love playing it. The atmosphere at a good golf club and on a great golf course is electric, and there really is nothing quite like it. Those who have been playing for years will know what we mean already; those about to pick up their clubs for the first time will soon understand.
Kent is no stranger to golf; we’d go as far as to say it’s a golfer’s paradise, full of excellent golf courses to play on that offer a wide range of terrain and difficulty. We’ve put together some of the very best across the county – there is sure to be one near you (but of course, when it comes to golf, travelling is never a chore, so you might want to try some others out that are a little further afield too).
London Golf Club, Ash
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, with 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.
As the only Joint Venture Partner Golf Club of the European Tour, London Golf Club provides an oasis of golfing tranquillity in 700 acres of idyllic Kent countryside, just 20 miles from the Capital. With its all-encompassing facilities and convenient access to major motorways, rail networks and international airports, the club is uniquely positioned to welcome and cater for visiting golfers, golf days, meetings and weddings in addition to providing a membership experience that surpasses expectations.
The Heritage course is a Jack Nicklaus Signature design that bears all the hallmarks of the 18-time Major Champion. Host to the 2008 & 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, the members-only Heritage is rightly regarded as one of the country’s finest golfing experiences.
The International 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 2018 & 2019 Staysure PGA Seniors Championship and having hosted both the Volvo World Match Play Championship and Regional Open Qualifying, 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.
Royal St George’s, Sandwich
The course at Royal St George’s is 6,340 yards and asks for a par 70 altogether. This is where the 2020 Open Championship is going to be hosted, and it is in fact where more majors take place than anywhere else in England. It’s obvious once you see the course why the big players want to be here; fast greens and undulating fairways make it a challenging and supremely enjoyable way to spend your golfing time. Even the most experienced of golfers find they have to work hard here.
Prince’s Golf Club, Sandwich
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.
Hever Castle Golf Club, Hever
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.
Whilst 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.
Leeds Castle, Leeds
The 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,” he said, “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, Sevenoaks
Unique amongst golf courses in the United Kingdom, 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, Maidstone
Tudor Park, part of the world-renowned Marriott Hotel group, 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 Golf Club, Broadstairs
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.
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.
Etchinghill Golf Course, Folkestone
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-three 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, Biddenden
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 a diverse and challenging one that is one of the most popular in the South East. 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.
Dale Hill, Wadhurst
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 it has lost none of its charm and it makes for a satisfying round of golf.
Westgate & Birchington Golf Club, Westgate-on-Sea
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 60 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, Tenterden
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, Chelsfield
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, Biggin Hill
Cherry Lodge Golf Club sits in 130 acres of beautiful parkland in Kent’s North Downs on the outskirts of Biggin Hill, offering spectacular views of Kent’s countryside. If you think you already know the course then think again; it underwent a £1million makeover in 2014/15.
Cherry Lodge is a private members’ club where the members can play golf whenever they wish without booking tee times. The club is run by the members, for the members and as such is a modern and forward-thinking enterprise. There is no joining fee and no handicap restrictions; golfers of all standards are welcome. There are several membership packages available to suit every budget. The pro shop is well stocked with clothing and equipment and offers a full range of services and tuition. The clubhouse has a newly refurbished private function room available for hire for any occasion or event, with fabulous views overlooking the 18th fairway and green.
West Kent Golf Club, Downe
est Kent Golf Course was established in 1916, and in the following 100 years it has undergone a number of changes – all positive ones. The Downe course was built in 1925, designed by JF Abercromby and WH Fowler, who also designed many other outstanding courses. It is a 6,427-yard course which offers a variety of different challenges to those playing including woodland, parkland and downland holes. West Kent also boats the longest ladies’ course in Kent, which comes in at just under 6,000 yards.
Royal Cinque Ports, Deal
If you want a course with a classic out and back layout, this championship links course at Royal Cinque Ports is ideal for you. Lovers of links golf will adore the challenges set on this fast, rolling course; one of the biggest challenges has to be throughout the final seven holes which, with a prevailing wind, have been called some of the toughest to be found in golf.
Littlestone Golf Club, New Romney
There are two fabulous courses at Littlestone Golf Club. The first is the Littlestone Championship Links, which is noted as being one of the best 100 courses in England, and one of the best links courses in the UK and Ireland. It was founded back in 1888, and has a long, distinguished history.
The second course is the Warren course. This is a shorter course (although still 18 holes) and is for both membership and pay-and-play games. Naturally rugged thanks to its position on the edge of the Romney Marsh, this is also one of the driest places in England, which means that not only can you enjoy golf all year round, but the ground will be ideal to play on too.
Faversham Golf Club, Faversham
Faversham Golf Club was founded in 1902, but started life at Nagden Marshes (close to Graveney) before it moved to Belmont Park where you can find it today. A beautiful spot to play, the views here are stunning. It’s a challenging course too – at just over 6,000 yards there are many obstacles and trials to get through before reaching the hole, but everyone who plays there will always tell you it is entirely worth every stroke.
Wildernesse Golf Club, Sevenoaks
For over 125 years golfers have enjoyed the beautiful course and warm hospitality that Wildernesse has to offer. Originally designed in 1890, Wildernesse is a tight parkland layout that is rated as one of the finest inland courses in the South East.
It has played host to a number of prestigious England Golf, PGA and Kent County events and has been selected by The R&A as a Regional Open Qualifying venue. This year’s qualifying tournament takes place on 24th June.
Wildernesse is immaculately presented with tree-lined fairways and quick undulating greens. It is ranked by the National Club Golfer magazine as one of the top 100 courses in England.
At just over 6,500 yards, the course provides a challenge for the very best players, but is an equally enjoyable test for golfers of all abilities.
With the exception of two new holes created in 1969 the course has remained very much unchanged over the years. A true testament to the original design.