Littlestone (Championship) - Kent - England

Littlestone Golf Club,
St Andrews Road,
Littlestone,
New Romney,
Kent,
TN28 8RB,
England


  • +44 (0) 1797 363355

  • Golf Club Website

  • 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.

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Reviews for Littlestone (Championship)

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Description: Littlestone Golf Club is an unsung gem, overshadowed by the Open Championship links courses in Kent: Royal St George’s, Royal Cinque Ports and Prince's. Rating: 6.6 out of 10 Reviews: 44
TaylorMade
DG
Visited Littlestone in the last week of October for the first time and was impressed with this jolly course. After a gentle opening hole this is a course that appears to build as your round progresses with an extremely strong set of closing holes. Favourite holes included the 2nd where the approach shot is semi-blind, the 11th which offers a risk-reward from the tee that is similar to the 1st at Machrihanish, the long par 4 16th (469 yards) and the brilliant short hole 17th (probably the best on the course). Littlestone was in good condition and although preferred lies were available it was rarely necessary to move the ball. Prince’s and Hayling Island are 18 and 13 places respectively above Littlestone in the English rankings. Based on my visit, I think the gap between these two courses and Littlestone deserves to be somewhat smaller. I look forward to returning to Littlestone in the near future hopefully. DS
November 28, 2014
6 / 10
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Russell Binney
I played Littlestone late September after reading some of the comments on this website. I have to say that I enjoyed the course and it certainly has some standout holes. The first hole is a nice little warm up followed by the 2nd a strong par four with semi blind second shot. The 3rd is blind tee shot to a well designed green and the 4th is pretty straight with again a very well set out green. The par 5 next is Ok but the 6th is a fantastic par 3 that requires a very accurate tee shot. After this the next couple of holes are decent finishing off the 9 holes with a brute of a par 3 which required a long iron. The next run of holes from 10 - 13 seem to blend into each other before reaching 14 again a cracking par 3. 15 is a shortish par 4 with a two tier green followed by 16 a very strong par 4. The 17th is as good a par 3 as you will find anywhere playing from a elevated position to an undulating green which is protected either side by either bunkers or rough. The course finishes with a good par 5 which again ends with a fantastic green complex. The only negative is the condition which was average the fairways were poor as were the tees although the greens though were good. They also need to look at the rough as it was unplayable which on bouncy fairways took away some of the enjoyment. Littlestone is worth a visit but is not as quite at the standard of the other three links courses Royal St Georges, Princes and Royal Cinque Ports.
October 16, 2014
6 / 10
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Cedric
October 17, 2014
We must have played around the same time. I disagree on your comments about fairways and rough. Links courses will never have Floridian fairways, so yes they might look patchy but they are not in poor condition, and of course always dry. As for the rough, there was always a very playable pre rough....
R Binney
October 18, 2014
Cedric, Thank you for your comments but I am not sure where in my review I stated that the fairways should be of a Floridian nature. The fairways on links courses can have good grass coverage like say Royal Aberdeen or a firmer brown coverage like Hayling Island which I prefer. As for the semi rough this was inconstant at best with it 6 inches long in one place and non existent 2 yards further on. As I noted in the review I really like the course and the layout but apart from the greens and surrounds it was in poor condition. RB
Steve
July 31, 2015
Having played both a number of times, I can't agree with your assessment of Princes as superior (although I will on RSG and Deal). Princes still has a way to go to recover its former glory, and the difference in quality of the turf on fairways and greens is marked. I would play Littlestone 100 times out of 100 instead of Princes.
Cédric
A real pleasure to see Jim write more and more reviews outside of Scotland, ever so informative and well written. My first glimpse at Littlestone wasn't too exciting, the view from the road being rather boring. The course delivers though, really. A very good surprise. No real weak hole (1st maybe) and some excellent par 3s, especially 6th with severe run offs on either side, a potential card wrecker. Apart from 16th, not a long course. I can only assume that the wind gives this par 71 a SSS of 73 from the back tees? A very pleasant course, not quite as exquisite as Royal St Georges and Deal though. 4,5 would be my mark... Cedric
October 02, 2014
6 / 10
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Jim McCann

I arrived very late for my arranged tee time on a rather blustery Sunday evening so, with the clubhouse closed and not another golfer in sight, I had the course all to myself – now that’s what I call golfing heaven! For a landscape that was meant to be pretty flat and featureless, I found there was more than enough ground movement to keep me interested all the way round the property.

In my notepad, I noted the large, rectangular-shaped greens that dominate the opening few holes, the gap in the dune to approach the 2nd green, the lovely little wooden retaining ridge at the side of the 5th green and the crafty set of cross bunkers at Littlestone Golf Course - Photo by reviewerthe par five 7th, cunningly positioned 50 yards short of the green.

The back nine begins at the tough 10th with a green that’s tucked behind a sizeable dune, followed soon after by a blind drive at the par four 13th, which traverses a couple of ridges en route to the green. The closing three holes are rather formidable, none more so than the long par three 17th, which I played with my driver from a very elevated tee into a very fresh breeze.

The green at this terrific hole had been damaged (along with several others, earlier in the round), perhaps with some sort of corrosive liquid, and I hope the club manages to catch the person who has done this. It’s always such wanton vandalism on a golf course.

Having now played all three links courses currently ranked above Littlestone in the county of Kent, there’s absolutely no way in my mind that this place should be regarded as in anyway inferior to that esteemed regal triumvirate; it’s a cracking track that FAR surpassed my expectations and, in many ways, I’d rather play here than at ANY of the other three, mainly because it’s a more forgiving (though no less engaging) layout for the average golfer like myself.

Jim McCann

August 12, 2014
7 / 10
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JT1984
I played Littlestone three times in the space of three days in April 2014. My first experience of Littlestone came on a beautifully sunny and completely benign day – a rarity on the Kent coast. Being a 4 handicapper at a parkland course in Hertfordshire, I found the conditions conducive to good scoring and shot 74, having left my driver at my home pro shop to be re-gripped. The greens were every bit as true as I could have imagined, simply a joy to putt on. I returned to Littlestone a few days later to play in the Romer Bowl, on a sunny albeit very windy day. Armed with my driver this time, I succumbed in the blustery conditions to two rounds in the mid 80’s, but I thoroughly enjoyed the day. Rolling putts on these pure greens was a pleasure. For me, the stand out memories of Littlestone have to be the excellent greens and the par 3 17th, which is not only a beauty but a very challenging hole indeed. In fact, all of the par 3’s were tough, despite what some of their yardages would suggest – you have been warned! There are however a few things at Littlestone that may not be to everyone’s taste, such as the finish to the front 9, which is in plain sight of a busy road. The clubhouse is charming and the staff made me feel very welcome. Inside the dining room, I was pleasantly surprised to see plenty of memorabilia, particularly a flag from when Littlestone hosted the Final Qualifying for the 2011 Open, signed by Darren Clarke and the successful qualifiers themselves. I’ve also played Royal St Georges twice, Royal Cinque Ports and Princes. Littlestone isn’t in the same league as its Royal counterparts, however I thoroughly enjoyed playing Littlestone and would definitely go back there, but maybe not for a green fee of £85 on a Saturday in the summer which seems a little bit excessive.
May 06, 2014
8 / 10
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Monty

Played here on the 19th June 2013. Tees were good. Fairways were tight and mostly brown as one expects after dry weather. Greens were a good pace and smooth. The sward on the greens is as good as you will find anywhere. The course set up was excellent and a credit to the staff. A very enjoyable day at a quality golf course.

June 19, 2013
8 / 10
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RT
Played Littlestone with my brother in law recently. We had a friendly welcome and an enjoyable round, but we can not understand how the course receives a Top 100 rating. There is no real tradition or history at the club, the facilities are limited (e.g. The pro shop is 100 metres away and shared with an adjoining pay and play facility) and the course really lacks a 'wow' factor. As Links courses go, Littlestone lacks the ability to actually see the sea and the views are far from spectacular - and the finish to the front 9 runs parallel with a main road and has the feel of a municipal course. The greens are noteworthy (in a good way), but that is the one and only stand out feature. Despite the high degree of difficulty actually getting to play at Rye the difference between the two courses and set up is immense. As I said, I enjoyed it, but shall not rush back and would not recommend unless expectations about the course were well managed.
April 21, 2013
4 / 10
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Steve Eggleston
This course was my introduction to Links Golf 30 years ago and has lived long in the memory ever since. Having recently moved to Kent I have had the chance to go back and play Littlestone again and the experience has been every bit as good as the memory!

The course and clubhouse has not changed a bit in the intervening time and that is part of the charm of the course and the club. It is a throwback to more traditional times, and the welcome and good manners of the members and the etiquette on the golf course are hugely important to the experience. The secretary was very anxious that my playing partner and I understood that pace of play was extremely important to the members and he wasn't joking as we easily played round in just under 3 hours - having let through a very courteous couple who caught us up and left us standing as they breezed past at something of a fast trot!

The wind was strong, the conditions wintery and this was a day for golf as it was originally meant to be played - brisk and energetic, focused on the match rather than the score! From a gentle start on a short par 4 through to a brutal finish up 16 and 17 the course constantly throws great golfing challenges at you. The approach to the 2nd hole, threaded between two huge dunes 40 yards short of the green. The tee shot to the par3 6th, with subtle but severe trouble all around the green. The cross bunkers and ditches on the par 5s that force you to reappraise your shot. There are greens tucked away out of sight (like the 10th) and others where you can see it all, but if you try to pitch on the green all but the best of shots will run through and into trouble (like the 12th). Brutes of par 4s like the 4th and 16th mixed with shorter holes that test your approach skills and catch you out while you think you are taking a breather.

All around the course there are challenging driving holes with a couple of blind drives that test your nerve as you hit into the unknown in a cross breeze(the 3rd comes to mind), and a few holes that punish poor strategy off the tee - like the 11th diagonally across the canal, or 15th laid across the prevailing wind - that tease you into trying to cut off too much and punish you if you get it wrong. Generally the fairways are wide and the rough is fair, though, and if you want to use that new £300 driver there is nothing to stop you. For me the highlight of the course is its par 3s which are all laid out in different directions to really test your skills against all points of the wind. The wind plays a huge part in protecting the golf course, and the abiding memory from my first visit to Littlestone all those years ago was that in the morning the 17th played as a 9 iron to the back of the green, but when the wind turned around in the afternoon the same hole played as a 3 wood .... followed by a half wedge! I imagine that without a wind the par 3s play quite easily ... but I am not sure that there are too many days at Littlestone when the breeze doesn't blow!

Sadly the sea is not in view from the course as it is hidden behind an imposing sea wall, and at times in the middle of the round where the holes switch direction frequently the desolate landscape can become a bit disorientating. On at least one tee the only way that we knew which direction to play was the order of the tee markers. But the course is not without charm with the red brick water tower along 18 being a particular feature, and the 16th green set beside a huge dune providing a memorable and typically linksy image. The condition of this course at the end of the wettest winter on record blew me away. The greens were as true and fast as many courses manage only in summer, and the springy, firm turf was a joy to play from and meant that the course retained the bouncy, shot-making character you expect from a seaside Links despite the appalling recent weather. The greens had some lovely subtle breaks as well as some heavy slopes and tiers, and they must be quite fearsome when running fast in the summer (when I imagine the rough is also much tougher).

Once back in the clubhouse the members and staff were very welcoming and the bar food was adequate if uninspiring. I have heard that the lunches are good, but can't personally vouch for that. Although very traditional in look and feel - with more than a touch of the old school tie about the decor and the penchant for foursomes golf, long socks and plus fours - the actual experience in the bar and on the course was very down to earth and eclectic, and I enjoyed the company of all that I met. One downside, which curiously fits with the old school charm of the club, is that the pro-shop and practise ground is situated some way from the clubhouse at the adjoining pay and play course (Littlestone Warren) that I believe is also owned by the club. Another quirk is the out and back layout of the course that makes it difficult to play just 9 holes. This might be more of a problem except for the fact that it is quite feasible to finish 18 holes in the time it would take to play 9 at some other places!

Overall this was a wonderful course in fabulous condition and a great experience. However it is not for everybody, and if you don't like being rushed it may even be best avoided. I for one, though, will be back as often as possible!
March 13, 2013
8 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
Littlestone is well worth a visit – true links land, a traditional club and some great seaside holes. The course is down in the south-east corner of Kent and apparently one of the driest places in Britain – our visit in Feb 2013 enhances this thought; so much recent rain but the course played very well and the greens were as true as you like. The course is on pretty much flat land but the holes twist and turn in all directions which is great fun; a great talking point is that the four par-3’s point at the main compass points (6th North, 9th East, 14th Littlestone GOlf Course - Photo by reviewerWest and 17th South). I will just mention my five stand-out holes that stick in my mind now; The approach to the par-4 2nd hole is not easy, a ditch and dunes on either side just short of the green protect. The par-3 6th doesn’t look that troublesome with only two bunkers but a narrow green that falls away on both sides tells a different story, miss the green and it is a tough par. The drive at the par-4 11th is a concern, a little uncomfortable some may say due to the ditch/canal that runs down the left side – the tee is on one-side and the fairway the other, the decision on how much to cut-off should not be taken lightly. Littlestone has to be known for a very strong finish and the 16th and 17th are beautiful. In fact the 16th is one of the toughest par-4’s in the country (and only SI-3, wow!) – not many will hit the green in two that’s for sure, so the tip is to play the second shot to the left-side as there is a lot of fall away ground to the right, this should give a clear view of the green. The best looking of the short holes is the 17th; elevated tee, some dead ground, pot bunkers and a sloping green – the tip is an obvious one… hit the green as there is so much trouble elsewhere! Final Qualifying for the 2011 Open was held at the club, another great endorsement.
February 19, 2013
8 / 10
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LarsX
We played Littlestone in June on a day with a brutal 7Bft SW gale, which made scoring especially on the back nine quite difficult. We played it from the back (blue) tees. The drive there doesn’t raise the expectations as it is pretty much a neglected neighborhood. The fairly unpretentious club house doesn’t change the first impression, nor do the practice facilities, the dead range balls or the fairly disinterested staff in the Pro Shop. The Ladies in the Club house and the members we met there were very nice, though. The first hole then is a bit of a bore (short, wide and flat), but on No2 the course starts to get a bit more interesting with No3 then being a first true test and No4 being quite a challenge into the wind. Most of the remaining holes are beautifully set and every hole has its own characteristic. You unfortunately don’t see much of the Sea. On No12 the fairway is so far away there was chance to hit it against the gale. The highlights of the course are 16 and 17, although at 469yds No16 was unreachable - a bogey is probably always a good result there. The rough was high; fairways in a decent condition and the greens were very good. Overall it was a challenging and great day out. It is definitely recommendable, although the Green fee is quite high.
June 11, 2012
6 / 10
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