I should have been at the Open last weekend, watching the worlds best golfers tee it up at Royal St Georges with my brother in law. Obviously, and rightly so, that was cancelled. However, I kept the booking I had made at the campsite. We had decided, that if the situation had improved and lockdown would be eased, which it had, then we would still head down to Kent, and rather than watch the tour pro’s grace the fairways, we would take our clubs and grace some fairways instead and visit some local courses for weekend of golf.
So, when it was announced that campsites would open, we set about researching courses in Kent and seeing where we could play. Looking up which courses were accepting visitors and sending out numerous emails, some of which I was surprised to get no response to, we had narrowed down our list of possible places to play. We had hoped to get three rounds in. Two on Saturday and one on Sunday. Getting a Saturday morning round in for two visitors was going to prove quite tough as the vast majority of members clubs don’t except visitors until after midday. But it wasn’t impossible to find somewhere and we ended up with a couple of options.
So the rounds were booked and we had three very different courses to play over the weekend. The Warren at Littlestone Golf Club on Saturday Morning, Canterbury Golf Club on Saturday afternoon, and finishing the weekend at Princes Golf Club on the Shore and Dunes Course at Midday on Sunday. It would be quite a long blog post to write about them all in one so I have decided to break it down into three parts. Which also gives me a bit more time to write it all. So this first part will be about our trip to the Warren Course at Littlestone.
Littlestone Golf Club, situated on the edge of the Romney Marshes has two 18 hole courses, Their Championship Course and The Warren Course. The Warren Course was our test for Saturday morning. A par 67 measuring 5241 yards, this is obviously shorter than the Championship course, but don’t be deceived into thinking its easy. Laid out on the natural dunes with hard fast fairways, undulating approaches, quick greens and links bunkers, coupled with unforgiving thick rough, it requires accuracy rather than distance off the tee.
After checking in at the well stocked pro shop and a much needed coffee and bacon roll at The Warren Course’s own club house, it was time to tee off. With no par fives, the Warren opens up with the longest hole of the course, a 444 yard par four which seems straight forward, but long rough ready to catch a wayward tee shot and an undulating green surround ready to punish an inaccurate approach shot with a tough chip, means its not quite a simple as it seems.
The rest of the front nine is a mixture of great par threes ranging from 147 to 206 yards in length and some tough par fours, that although aren’t overly long, doesn’t mean it’s a simple driver off the tee and short iron approach. Good placement off the tee will reward you more than being long. The 5th and 6th holes are testament to this. If you are lucky, as we were, you may even see the Steam Trains pass by on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway whilst you are on the 5th green or 6th tee.
The front nine closes out with the penultimate par three on the course before a drivable par four to start the back nine. The 12th starts with a blind tee shot but a marker post gives you the line, before an approach into a well guarded green. 13 seems easy when looking at the scorecard, but if you ware going to cut the corner going for the green, make sure you are straight as long rough awaits and it’s not easy to recover from. An iron off the tee would probably be the sensible option. 14 is the longest hole on the back nine and the raised green on 15 means you don’t want to leave you approach short or it will roll back down to the fairway.
I’m a big fan of short par three’s and the 16th at Littlestone didn’t disappoint. Don’t go long as anything over the back will likely be gobbled up by the thick rough and a bunker front left means club selection is vital. A short par four follows, before the finishing hole which has long rough dissecting the fairway at about 220 yards from the tee meaning a driver is not an option for most.
Thankfully, we had great weather. The sun was out and a nice cool and gentle breeze from the coast gave perfect conditions for our enjoyable round to start off our weekend. I imagine a strong sea breeze would have left me searching the long rough even more than I did. The greens were in very good condition too, firm and quick and leaving any bad putt, solely the fault of the golfer. At £25 a round for visitors on a Saturday morning, I consider it to be very good value. The course is suited to all abilities. Not too long for beginners and challenging enough to more seasoned golfers.
From here, it was back into the car and off to Canterbury for our second round which I will write about in part two of my Kent Golfing Weekend Blog.