Top 25 Golf Courses in Kent 2015
Kent Best in County rankings updated
As a golfing destination, Kent has many advantages: an above average climate (it’s always nice to play with the sun on your back), proximity to the capital (with excellent airport and motorway connections) and, above all else, a varied landscape that offers a wide range of parkland, downland and links golf courses.
There’s more than a hundred 9-hole and 18-hole layouts spread across the county and they stretch from the historic old parkland track at Royal Blackheath, located only thirteen miles from the centre of London, all the way to Deal on the English Channel, where the Open championship was twice held on the links at Royal Cinque Ports, in 1909 and 1920.
We maintain a Top 25 chart for the county known as the Garden of England and have recently conducted a survey of courses in this area as part of the reappraisal process for every English region. Having contacted all the clubs to include as wide a range of opinions as possible, we now present the results of our research.
Royal St George’s comfortably holds onto the number 1 position in Kent. Host to fourteen Open competitions since 1894, it’s also the highest ranked course in our national Top 100 for England and it occupies a perch in the upper reaches of our World Top 100 listings. This venerable old links layout is high on the playlist of many, moving one recent reviewer to write: “I would urge all serious golfers to play this course at least once, you will come away with memories that will last a lifetime.”
Royal Cinque Ports is tucked in at number 2 in the chart, just ahead of three courses which each rise one place in the new county Top 25. At number 3, the Shore & Dunes 9-hole circuits at Prince’s Golf Club comprise the principal 18-hole layout at a wonderful 27-hole facility where Gene Sarazen holed out to win the Open (on today’s 5th hole of the Shore nine) in 1932.
At number 4, the Championship course at Littlestone is largely eclipsed by its aforementioned links neighbours along the Kent coastline. It might not be blessed with the same dune-laden terrain as those other tracks but there’s still more than enough movement in the New Romney landscape – between holes 8 and 17, in particular – to keep golfers totally engaged from start to finish.
The Heritage course at the impressive 36-hole London Club occupies the number 5 position in the latest edition of our Kent listings and this Jack Nicklaus design was recently visited by Top 100’s Brian Ward, who termed it: “a quality layout with bold bunkering and superb greens. There is water to contend with on six holes, adding plenty of excitement to what is already a stiff challenge.”
The most significant upward movement in our revised rankings occurs at number 6, where The Wildernesse Club climbs seven places from number 13. This tight, tree-lined course has been in play for 125 years now, undergoing a major James Braid redesign in the late 1920s, and its fairways are routed in a clockwise direction around Chance Wood.
Further down our updated listings, three courses advance in the right direction: Rochester & Cobham Park (up three to 12) was reconstructed by Donald Steel in the mid-1990s, Langley Park (up three to 13) is an old JH Taylor design from 1910, and Lamberhurst (up four to 14), where Frank Pennink expanded the layout to 18-holes in the 1970s.
Hemsted Forest is a new entry at number 20. Located near the small town of Cranbrook, the course was carved from thick, rolling woodland, with play commencing here in 1969. Interesting to note, the clubhouse is a somewhat unconventional converted oast house. The other 18-hole newcomer is the cliff top course at Walmer and Kingsdown, where James Braid set out the fairways in 1909, and the outward nine on this top track command magnificent views across the English Channel.
The third nine at Prince’s received strong support from our survey respondents and the Himalayas course therefore jumps into the chart at number 23. This is the first time we’ve separately listed a 9-hole course at a 27-hole facility. So if you’re planning to visit Prince’s, we recommend you leave enough time to play all three 9-hole loops.
We’re grateful to everybody in Kent who assisted with our re-ranking process for the county. To view details of all the courses in our Kent Top 25 rankings click the link. If you have extensive experience of playing across the south east region of England and would like to contribute to our next re-ranking exercise then please email Editor-in-Chief Keith Baxter at [email protected].
23 September 2015 Respond to this article