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.
The course is a good one. It has none of the rolling dune dramas of the first two thirds of Royal St George's or indeed Deal, just soft undulating dunes running along the coast line. The pinnacle of the dunes starts and finishes on the 2nd, although there is some use of them on the 3rd and 17th, which is a really classic links par three. What it does have though is great greens which seem to improve in terms of difficulty and undulations as the course progresses. In fact the state of the whole course is extremely high, everything, the paths, the tees, the rough, the semi rough looks exactly as it should do and you can see why their greenkeeper has won awards. It’s not a difficult course but it is an interesting course despite it’s relative flatness. I winds it’s way mostly around the low undulating dunes with subtle par fours and a whole host of very challenging par 3’s with the addition of the occasional meandering burn. In terms of difficulty this mainly lies in the bunkering, however instead of the deep faced riveted bunkers, there are the kinder harry colt type bunkers which leave you some chance of getting back in play. The course has a strong finish with both 16 and 17 being stand out holes, especially with the weird tower like house just to the back of them.
I would strongly recommend visiting the course if you are a links fan (I am if you hadn’t guessed), it is a step back in time and is a pleasure to play. The only complaint I would have is the main road at the far end of the course which spoils the whole tranquil feeling of the place, but apart form that you’ll enjoy an old fashioned links course in marvellous condition.
An outstanding links course, with the best greens you will ever play no matter what time of year.