St Andrews Road,
- +44 (0) 1797 363355
M20 J10, to New Romney
Contact in advance - after 3pm at weekends
Founded in 1888, Littlestone Golf Club is a classic remote links course, located on the fringe of the Romney Marshes, with the English Channel as the backdrop. The British Ladies’ Open was held at Littlestone six years after the course opened, which was originally designed by Laidlaw Purves, tweaked by James Braid at the turn of the 20th century and revised in the 1920s by Alister MacKenzie. Frank Pennink made some bunker modifications after the Second World War and Donald Steel and Peter Alliss advised on some minor changes in 2000.
Littlestone is a hidden gem, overshadowed by the other famous links courses in the area: Rye, Royal St George’s and Royal Cinque Ports. The course plays across fairly flat links land, although it does have its own range of sand dunes.
New Romney is one of the driest places in the British Isles; consequently you will rarely need your waterproofs. The dry flat ground makes for some interesting tight lies but rarely will you be faced with awkward stances. The greens are true and fast making it difficult to hold the ball.
There are no tricks here at Littlestone; everything is clearly in view from the tees (including a significant number of bunkers). You will need to be on top of your game to keep your score together – the last three holes are amongst the toughest around. Littlestone possesses numerous good golf holes and Bernard Darwin painted a particularly colourful picture of the 11th in his book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles:
“At the eleventh there is one of those uncomfortable tee-shots, which are so excellent. There is a canal, a nasty insidious serpentine beast of a canal, which winds its way along the left-hand side of the course, and it is our duty, in order to gain distance, to hug it as close as we dare; yet if we show ourselves the least bit too affectionate towards it, this ungrateful canal will assuredly engulf our ball to our utter destruction.”
At Littlestone, they like to get you around in about three hours (only singles, two-balls and foursomes were allowed, but the club does now allow limited fourball play). Littlestone is a delightfully good golf course that's well worth playing and, if you are feeling brave, they allow visitors to play from the medal tees.
I'm rating this based on the criteria in the ratings but to be honest, I really would have liked to rate Littlestone a little higher.
Yes it's maybe not on the level of the other 3 famous links clubs in Kent but that really doesn't mean it's not one of the top courses in the country.
I went into the round reading some of these reviews and thinking it's going to be very flat with a handful of dunes and although that is mostly true, it is more a case of there are some low dunes throughout the whole course, you just encounter the biggest ones on the second,sixteenth and seventeenth. It is certainly not a "flat" course per day, there is some nice undulation but it is distinctly more walkable than some links I've played, likely because you don't tee off particularly on top of many of the dunes.
As everyone on here mentions the finishing stretch is excellent. 17 looks like a big target but has a wicked false front that makes the green tiny and 16 is truly a beast. My other highlights are 9, a long and tricky par 3, 11 which asks you to take your drive as close to the ditch running diagonally as you can and 15, a tricky short par 4 with an awesome green.
All in all, this really is worth a trip in its own right, and would make for a good warm up on a trip to the other 3 famous clubs in this part of England. If you visit this first it will whet your appetite, I would think if you visit after a trip to one of the others it may disappoint a little but it is worth a trip in it's own right.
Littlestone Golf Club, located on the Romney Marshes in the West Coast of Kent will be one of the flattest Links course you are ever likely to play. If you’re expecting a journey through the sand dunes then you have come to the wrong place.
Instead, cleverly placed tee boxes, devilishly tough rough and light fescue shapes each hole in an out-and-back style that plays along the English Channel. Views of the white cliffs of Folkestone & Dover are on display as you make your way away from the clubhouse and from the 9th you make your way back toward the opulent Water Tower and old school clubhouse.
Littlestone is tough but fair. At 6,438 yards from the Whites it’s not a long course, but you need to be straight for the rough in places is extremely penal. The greens across the course are very good, run true and well protected.
Overall I found the course to be a little uninspiring and there are too many forgettable holes. The 2nd is a lovely Par 4 playing up to a ravine with an approach shot played through a valley of two sand dunes (two of only a few only a few on the course). The 10th is a good strategic hole where you need to find the left hand side of the fairway to attack a hidden green, followed by the interesting 11th with a diagonal creek running the length of the fairway. A classic risk/reward hole which asks you how much of the hole you wish to cut off, with thick rough awaiting those who are a little too brave.
Then it’s not until the final stretch of 3 holes where the course really becomes memorable for 16, 17 and 18 are a wonderful closing trio of classic links holes with true links green complexes. The run-offs put a premium on approach play and makes up and downs well earned when missed. The 17th is a really highlight and a Par 3 that wouldn’t look out of place on any of it’s more famous linksland neighbours.
If you’re in Kent to play the best Links courses on offer, Littlestone should be seen as a warm up and worthy of playing if I’m the area, but overall I feel it’s lucky to find itself in the Top 100 and surprised to see it in as high at 67th.
For all photos of reviews, please follow Chris’ Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/top.100.golf/
At the end of a dry six to seven weeks Littlestone was classic links - no fairway watering, brown fairways and rock hard greens. I really enjoyed it.
Every course needs a stroke index 18 hole, and Littlestone starts with a simple one, not long, straight and offering only a sight of the dunes to be tackled as the round goes on. Maybe not a great hole, but a nice start before the later challenges. These begin at two, downwind the challenge is the ditch, upwind the challenge is the same ditch, but on your second shot and then the great dunes protecting the green. The third brings an early blind drive before respite on the fourth (or a taste of things to come with a southerly or south westerly).
The first short hole is the sixth, get the ball on the green or else it will roll down into dell and require a deft put or pitch and run back up. Holes 8 to 15 broadly zig-zag back, with subtle dog legs created either by the shape of the fairway or by off-set tees which offer up the whole of the hole but require true precision to get the line right.
One the 8th that protection comes with a drive now placed over a large dune and on the 11th the best shot is the one which just misses the ditch, but the safe shot is one which crosses it that much earlier. Risk and reward, the motto of any good golf course.
Of the yellow tees 16 is a challenge, but not, with the ball running long distances, an impossible challenge - off the whites it must be a different beast, with a much different shape needed, especially if against the wind. 17 is, as said many times lovely; getting it right requires landing it into the bank or rolling it in from an earlier touch down with sufficient draw to avoid the bunkers and drop down to the right. 18 offers some relief and, as with 1, relief may well be needed.
Unlike the other Kent links Littlestone is approached via some 1920s and 30s suburban roads; there isn't the anticipation driving out of Sandwich into the relative wilds of Princes or Royal St George's. To me that made Littlestone feel more homely, something perhaps helped by playing with a member as his guest.
Really enjoyed this course and for the price, it was excellent value. I must say that the greens, fairways, and tee boxes were in pristine condition, one of the best I have ever played in the UK.
I was playing off the yellow and didn't find the course that tough as long as you hit it straight. I was very surprised how many pars and birdies I walked off with, having said that when the wind was against you it hut your score, and 3 times I hit the ball straight only to not see and lose my ball, it was mind-boggling sometimes.
The highlight for me was driving the green on 4, deciding what to do on holiday 2, and the view from the 17th.
I have always found the course a little bland and it's overshadowed by its more illustrious neighbours. It does have a couple of outstanding holes, which serve as a great test of skill, particularly when the wind picks up. The staff are friendly and it's certainly worth playing if you happen to be in the area.
Similar to Princes without the grandiose entrance and extra hospitality. A simple links design, challenging and fair, and in good condition when I played in winter. Will definitely return many times.
Standing on the 7th tee I was beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about. The first 6 holes while reasonable were fairly standard with limited character (except for the approach shot the second over the high dunes).
From the 7th onwards the course starts to take a different feel with some excellent holes cut into the fairly flat landscape. Some clever tee positioning also adds character and challenge to a number of holes.
The final 3 are as strong a finish as you’ll see anywhere and would look out of place on an Open Championship venue.
The greens were excellent with a true roll and consistent pace on every hole.
The back 9 really defines this course it’s just a pity the first 6 holes do not match its quality. Otherwise this would be much closer to Kent’s big 3.
I like Littlestone, but feel it's overrated. Theres a few good holes (2 and 17 being the best), but in general it's a lot of good/average holes o a flat piece of land. I think the fact it's a links on in the south-east helps it's reputation.
Worth playing if in the area, but I wouldn't travel to it. Play Rye, Sandwich and Deal, but skip Littlestone
Littlestone golf club unfortunately didn't quite live up to my expectations in all honesty. I'm quite surprised that its found its way into the top 100 in England as it really wasn't a very exciting golf course with a lot of uninspiring holes. One positive I must say is that they had good greens which were fairly quick and clearly maintained well so they were definitely top 100 worthy. However the course itself is not on the same level as any of the other links courses that I have played.
Some of the holes that I did enjoy would be the 2nd which was a good par 4 with the approach shot having to be played between 2 relatively large sand dunes. The 9th was also a good par 3 which was protected by many greenside bunkers but hard to keep it on the green full stop with how strong the wind was. The back nine was a bit more interesting than the front but also a lot harder as going towards the clubhouse sent us into the wind. The 14th is a good par 3 with a large bunker short right and an undulating green making it much more important to hit it in the right area. The 16th was in my opinion the hardest hole on the course being a 440 yard par 4 into the wind, playing like a par 5. Some hidden bunkers on the fairway makes this hole even more challenging. The 17th is about the only real great hole which is photo worthy. A beautiful 180 yard par 3 with what looked to be a church/clock tower in the background.
Overall it was a fairly average and flat course but it had some good holes in it so made it a good day out. A nice course to tick off the list and say that you have played but there are definitely better courses around.
Littlestone’s a fun and testing course but lacks some drama compared to Kent’s other links. There aren’t many dunes, the greens are interesting but not too wild, and bunkers aren’t often of the pot type. I liked it but it could use some improvements.
My favourite hole is the second, where you lay up short of a creek then play to a green nestles between multiple dunes. There weren’t many stand-out holes, not that that’s a bad thing as it was a consistent, solid exam with tough rough and plenty of greens where your ball would bounce away if hitting the wrong spot. The finish is as memorable as you’ve read, with the old clock tower adding to the sea views in that area.
I won’t be rushing back though… On the far side of the course the fairways were totally bald and cracked, except for some weeds sprouting. I like brown, firm conditions but it had gone too far. Strange also that nearer the clubhouse it was greener, maybe a drainage issue or perhaps the greenskeepers favour one area? Worse though were the bunkers. They had thick, heavy sand like I’ve never experienced. Not ideal but fine, you can adapt. However, on the brown half of the site all bunkers were totally infested by ants and flies! Honestly, the floors were moving and addressing your ball there were hundreds of flies tearing across your eyeline. After finding flies in our shirts and hair we agreed we’d just consider bunkers as ground under repair.
Perhaps conditions are harder to manage at the far end of Littlestone but green fees aren’t cheap. I read that they’re due a Mackenzie & Ebert renovation so I guess they are pooling resources for that, hopefully they took bug spray on their visits. I’ll probably revisit then but at the moment I’d say the shorter ‘Warren’ course is more enjoyable and better value.
It's a shame as Littlestone’s early impressions reminded me of Prince’s, understated but challenging, minimalist rather than wild and scoreable if you have a ‘fairway finder’ tee shot. Therefore for layout I’d give this 4.5, but its current state drags it down to the point it’s not worth travelling for. I’d like to think though that within a few years it will be back in ‘top 100’ condition.