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Kent: A Golfer’s Paradise

With its dramatic east coast trail of some of England’s finest links and an array of majestic parkland and downland courses set in the heart of the county’s rolling landscape, it’s hardly surprising that Kent is regarded as a golfer’s paradise. Although probably best known as the home to Royal St George’s, thanks to its Open Championship heritage (it has an impressive 14 Opens to its name) and regular appearances at the top of course rankings, Kent boasts two other former Open Championship venues.

Royal Cinque Ports, which staged the prestigious major in 1909 and 1920, and Prince’s, host in 1932, are both regarded amongst the finest links in England that provide tough challenges thanks to undulating fairways, tricky greens and the regular presence of sea breezes.

To the north of this magnificent trio is North Foreland, founded in 1903. Perched high above Kent’s white cliffs ensuring spectacular seascapes from every hole, its wide fairways disguise a tricky track thanks to strategically placed bunkers.

Back down the coast by Romney Marsh is yet another fine links. Littlestone, founded in 1888, is laid out on naturally rolling land amongst its own range of sand dunes and enjoys its own unique microclimate making it one of the driest places in England.

Inland from here lies a host of parkland and downland gems set out on Kent’s idyllic landscape.

Perhaps best known of these is one of Kent’s premier clubs, the London Golf Club. Just 20 miles from London, its two championship courses were designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus. The Heritage provides an exhilarating test for golfers of all abilities whilst The International is pure downland and the quick, undulating fairways force a links-style approach. Testament to its quality, The International staged the 2014 Volvo World Match Play Championship on the European Tour.

Two of the stand-out parkland layouts in Kent are Hever Castle and Tudor Park, which both offer on-site accommodation.

Hever Castle is not only one of Kent’s most iconic attractions, it is home to a 7,002-yard, par-72 championship parkland course, comprising the Kings and Queens 9-hole courses, as well as the nine-hole Princes Course, complemented by a Tudor-style clubhouse and luxurious accommodation in the castle’s Astor Wing.

Designed by noted golf course architect, Donald Steel, Tudor Park is a picturesque par-70, 6,041-yard championship course nestled in a 200-acre deer park in the heart of Kent. Alongside it, the Tudor Park Marriott offers a spa, gym and swimming pool for post-golf R&R.

Kent is also an ideal destination for those just taking up the game. The Pentland golf courses of Boughton near Canterbury and Etchinghill overlooking the Elham Valley provide a great introduction to golf with great practice facilities, whilst the picturesque Lullingstone Park, with views over Lullingstone Castle, is ideal for those looking for a more relaxed round.

Off the course, England’s oldest county offers a rich and varied culture, historic buildings, castles and cathedrals as well as bustling seaside towns and stunning gardens for golfers to visit which has all helped to establish Kent as one of the England’s premier golfing destinations. Indeed a golfer’s paradise…

www.golfinkent.co.uk

 

Some of our favourite Kentish courses:

 

Leeds Castle

GolfLeedsCastle

One of Britain’s historic golf courses, in the 85th anniversary year of the Leeds Castle Golf Course first opening for play, a major recent two-year investment has revitalised the course.

Set within the Kent countryside, the course now has a new 6th hole along the moat’s edge and a teasing par-three 8th, with the 9th hole having been extended to a par four. The course offers spectacular views of the 900-year-old castle as you play and provides an excellent test for golfers of all standards.

Originally built on the 500-acre estate in 1924 for the Hon. Lady Baillie, the then owner of Leeds Castle, today the nine-hole course continues to provide stunning views of the castle with the addition of new vistas, created by thinning out existing overgrown woodlands.

PGA Professional Steve Purves has created a designated short game coaching area and can help you enhance your strengths whilst developing areas for improvement. With 30 years’ experience in coaching, from tour professionals to beginners, take advantage of Steve’s PGA qualified teaching and playing expertise. Golf coaching is available for individuals or groups in half hour or nine-hole playing sessions. For more information, visit the website.

Pay and play prices start from just £13.50 for 9 holes and for those wishing to play unlimited golf, purchase a Season Ticket in five- or seven-day format starting from as little as £295 per year. Season tickets are available to purchase online at www.leeds-castle.com/golf or by calling the Pro Shop on 01622 767828.

Leeds Castle Golf Course is located on the A20 near Maidstone, just off Junction 8 of the M20.

www.leeds-castle.com/golf

 

North Foreland

GolfNorthForeland

North Foreland is coastal golf at its very best. North Foreland Golf Club, with its superb cliff-top chalk downland course, offers seaside golf at its best – with stunning panoramic views from every tee and every green.

Rated as one of the premier all-year-round courses thanks to the free-draining course, and this means there are no temporary greens or tees throughout the winter. This proud claim is backed by the sheer number of visitors and societies that return time and again to enjoy golf the North Foreland way.

North Foreland is also blessed with a superb 18-hole par-3 golf course. Apart from providing excellent golf and honing the short game on holes that vary in distance from 50 to 140 yards, on a glorious summer day there’s simply no better place to be. With commanding views to the north sea and lush emerald fairways and greens, the Northcliffe course offers a combination of beauty and challenge.

www.northforeland.co.uk

 

Broome Park Golf Club

GolfBroomePark

Established during the reign of Charles I, the Broome Park Estate is a magnificent place to play golf. As its centrepiece it has the Grade I listed Mansion House which was completed in about 1638, and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Carolean architecture in all of England. Refurbished and restored, one of the Mansion House’s most famous owners was Horatio Herbert Kitchener, First Earl Kitchener of Khartoum.

The golf course itself is a superb 18-hole parkland course set within the private 268-acre estate. The course opened in 1981, and was designed by the famous golf course architect Donald Steel. The entire course measures 6587 yards off the championship white tees, has a standard scratch of 72 and par 72. The course is an excellent test for all ages and levels of golfers and the finishing hole is particularly spectacular.

Broome Park Golf Club is easily accessible from the M2/A2 or M20 travel routes and is actually located off the A260. Come along and enjoy the great game in the Garden of England.

www.broomepark.co.uk

 

Chart Hills Golf Club

GolfChartHill

Situated in the heart of the Garden of England, Chart Hills is an award-winning course designed by Sir Nick Faldo. Sitting in the High Weald of Kent, the course and clubhouse are easily accessible from major routes into the county and Ashford International Station is just a 20-minute drive away. An ideal situation for weddings and private functions, Chart Hills enjoys quiet, uninterrupted views across its 200 acres of parkland course complete with oak woodlands and lakes.

Chart Hills is recognised as a course which offers diversity and challenge all laid out in a stunning location within the High Weald. The course has matured in to one of the finest in the South of England.

When you join Chart Hills you will also gain access to the intelligent golf online management system, making it easier for you to plan and organise your game, view your handicap and the course status.

Chart Hills has just been awarded the England’s Golf Championship Venue, and it is holding an open day on 30th April with a complementary round of golf included for all guests.

www.charthills.co.uk

 

London Golf Club

GolfLondonGolf

London Golf Club, located in the beautiful Kent countryside in Ash near Wrotham and West Kingsdown, has one of the finest downland courses in Europe. With fast fairways that roll up and down across the terrain, you can chase the ball exactly where you want it, although the risk and reward tee shots that can be found around the course really get the heart racing and the adrenalin pumping; the International course is both relaxing and exciting – a combination that isn’t always possible on other courses.

Home of the 2014 Volvo World Match Play Championship and having hosted both Regional Open Qualifying and European Tour Qualifying School, the course is made to ensure that you think about every shot before you take it, which means that it is the perfect place to hone your skills. London Golf Club is the only Joint Venture Partner Golf Club of The European Tour and a part of the prestigious European Tour Properties network.

www.londongolf.co.uk

 

St Augustine’s Golf Club

GolfStAug

St. Augustine’s Golf Club is a private members club that prides itself on having the reputation of being a very warm and welcoming club to both guests and visitors alike. Situated in the Pegwell Bay area of The Isle of Thanet, the Club was established in 1908. St. Augustine’s Golf Links was originally designed by Tom Vardon with some holes adjacent to the sea shore. Unfortunately these holes were prone to flooding and after this land was requisitioned for logistical purposes during the First World War, the course was reduced in size and redesigned to fit into the remaining land. Today this has resulted in a compact but very popular golf course that is well maintained and highly manicured.

The golf course is reasonably flat with tight challenging holes and having six par-threes requires a degree of accuracy to score well. Par for the course is 69 and the standard scratch score is 66 from the white tees and 65 from the yellow tees with an overall length of 5,254 yards.

The club takes its name from the natural fresh water well to the left of the 17th fairway recorded on maps as St. Augustine’s Well.

www.staugustinesgolfclub.co.uk

 

Knole Park Golf Club

GolfKnole

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. Knole House, 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 Youths 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.

www.knoleparkgolfclub.co.uk

 

Canterbury Golf Club

GolfCanterbury

Canterbury Golf Club opened for play in 1927 on 160 acres of land leased from the War Office. Designed by the renowned course architect Harry Colt, the 18-hole course boasts several areas given SSSI status by Natural England. Over many years, the original heathland nature of the course has altered with the introduction of huge expanses of trees. The resulting mature woodland with its carpet of bluebells in spring and wide variety of wildlife all year round, make this an uplifting place to play golf. The course is 6,272 yards off the whites, a par 71, and is a mix of open par 5s, tight par 4s and challenging par 3s.

www.canterburygolfclub.co.uk

 

Tudor Park, Marriott Hotel & Country Club

GolfTudor

Nestled in a 200-acre ancestral deer park, deep in the Garden of England, Tudor Park, A Marriott Hotel & Country Club, offers tranquillity and invigoration in equal measure. Just an hour’s drive from central London, amid rolling hills and wooded valleys, Tudor Park is a complete break from the city’s hustle and bustle – a great place for golfers of all abilities to test their game.

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.

As at many of Steel’s courses, there is an enticing mix of long and short holes, many featuring tight fairways bordered by beautiful, mature pines and other woodland areas. The best of the bunch are arguably the par-3 4th, the par-5 8th and the par-4 16th. But every hole at Tudor Park has its own personality – some friendly and relaxing, some that will test your skill and accuracy.

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.

www.marriottgolf.co.uk/club/tudor-park

 

Etchinghill Golf Course

GolfEtchinghill

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.

www.pentlandgolf.co.uk/etchinghill

 

Prince’s Golf Club

© Kevin Murray

© Kevin Murray

Prince’s Golf Club, located on Sandwich Bay on the east Kent coast, boasts wonderful accommodation offering sea or golf course views and 27 holes of championship links golf set near to the charming ancient town of Sandwich.

2016 is set to be an exciting year at Prince’s with two R&A events being held there. These are the St. Andrews Trophy, where golfers from GB&I play against their continental counterparts, and the Jacques Leglise Trophies, with the same format for boys. In 2017 Prince’s will co-host the Amateur Championship with Royal St. George’s, and from 2018 to 2021 the links will be one of the final qualifying venues for the Open.

The championship links of Prince’s, scene of Gene Sarazen’s 1932 Open victory, have benefited from continual investment over the last few years and are now presented in the best condition that members and golfing visitors have ever seen.

In the three years since the Lodge at Prince’s has opened, golfing guests have enjoyed the comfortable surroundings and friendly welcome. The 38 en-suite bedrooms offer the perfect choice for a golf break at Prince’s or indeed to also enjoy the other championship links along this coastline (Royal St. George’s and Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club) over several days. Guests have been impressed by the quality of the dining experience in the 2AA Rosette restaurant at the Brasserie on the Bay.

But Prince’s can offer more to their guests in 2016; a new grass practice will be opened (it could double as a football pitch given its size!) with the professional team headed up by Kent PGA captain Anthony Tarchetti offering lessons to include Trackman technology, or a ‘links’ warm-up to give golfers a flavour of links skills before teeing off. The gym onsite is always available for hotel guests to use. Guests can also book to view ‘The Gallery’, a fascinating and visual walk through the history of Prince’s.

Golfers are welcome to visit for a day’s golf or stay overnight to enjoy the next day on the links.

www.princesgolfclub.co.uk

 

Hever Castle Golf Club

GolfHever

This championship course, comprised of the Kings and Queens 9s, was showcased on Sky Sports as a venue for the EuroPro Tour in 2010. It has also hosted many other prestigious events including The Kent Open and Kent PGA Championship and has provided a fitting examination for many PGA Professionals, however with numerous teeing positions the course becomes a gentler, fairer and truly enjoyable game of golf for all abilities.

At a glance of the scorecard one of the longest holes in Europe, the 644-yard par-5 17th hole, certainly stands out, but Hever Castle Golf Club boasts an array of stunning holes across its 7002 yard, par-72 layout. The delightful short sixth and eighth holes on the front nine are both played over water, and a beautiful stretch of holes from the eleventh to the thirteenth (Hever Castle’s very own ‘Amen Corner’) where carries over water and small slick greens have to be negotiated to keep your scorecard intact.

www.hever.co.uk

 

Just across the border…

 

Dale Hill

GolfDaleHill

Located deep in the historic 1066 English countryside, with breathtaking views across the high weald ridges and valleys, you will be surprised and delighted to discover Dale Hill Hotel and Golf Club.

At Dale Hill they are very proud of their two magnificent 18-hole golf courses: The Ian Woosnam designed course and The Dale Hill course – both uniquely positioned in over 350 acres of undulating hills and historic woodland with stunning panoramic views. Each course has been designed to offer something for everyone; as Ian Woosnam OBE says the Woosnam course “is challenging enough to test the pros, yet accessible enough to be enjoyed by amateurs.”

The first of the two courses is the original Dale Hill Course which opened over 35 years ago; the second being the Ian Woosnam designed course which opened in 1997.

The Ian Woosnam designed course hugely compliments Dale Hill; for one it was designed by the former Masters Champion and Ryder Cup Captain, Mr Ian Woosnam. As well as this, the Woosnam course is exceptionally well balanced, in keeping with its partner: Dale Hill course.

The comprehensive buggy fleet enhances the enjoyment of playing golf at Dale Hill, and they also allow both courses to be walked. As well as the opportunity of playing these two courses, they have practice facilities including a driving range with several covered bays, a practice bunker and two practice putting greens.

Whatever your golfing needs may be, the Pro shop is on hand to answer any queries you may have.

For enquiries about green fees, golf days and membership please contact 01580 201090 or email golf@dalehill.co.uk.

www.dalehill.co.uk

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