Best Golf Courses In Kent

The garden of England is home to a terrific variety of golf from historic links to modern parkland with everything in between

Best Golf Courses In Kent - Aerial
The clubhouse, first tee and eighteenth green at Royal St. George’s - Kent’s premier club and course
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Best Golf Courses In Kent

Occupying a beautiful landscape between London and the sea, Kent is blessed with a diverse landscape of woodland, rolling hills, rivers, cliffs and beaches. With more than 80 affiliated golf clubs, there is much to choose from to suit all tastes and pockets. Commencing with its three outstanding Golf Monthly Top 100 links, this guide highlights a selection of the county’s very best golf.

Royal St. George’s

Royal St. George's - Hole 6

The short sixth at Royal St. George’s, a superb par 3 of 176 yards from the back tee

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This classic Open Championship links is unrelentingly strong from start to finish with every hole posing its own questions. Running over a vast expanse of unspoiled seaside land, every hole is separate from the others despite the lack of trees. It would be very hard to pick individual holes as more worthy than others. Ultimately, this Top 100 favourite is a course of strength in depth and uniformity, with eighteen new and uncompromising challenges.

- Read full Royal St. George’s Golf Club review

Royal Cinque Ports

Royal Cinque Ports - Hole 8

The par-3 eighth at Royal Cinque Ports with the sea wall beyond

(Image credit: Jason Livy)

Royal Cinque Ports is unquestionably one of the best links golf courses in England, and no doubt one of the toughest too. Depending on the wind, you need to make your score well before the brutally tough closing seven holes. Recent refinements including the creation of some waste areas has only further improved this classic links.

- Read full Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club review

Prince's

Prince's - Himalayas - Hole 5

The short fifth on the Himalayas at Prince’s is a very scenic new par 3

(Image credit: Paul Severn)

It would be hard to think of a better recent upgrade in England than the Martin Ebert work at Prince’s. For years, the Shore and Dunes were considered the main 18, but the Himalayas was the first of the nines to receive a full makeover. This includes a spectacular new hole as well as waste areas and bunker reworking. Now that all 27 are complete, it is very hard to say which nine is the best. The obvious solution is to play them all.

- Read full Prince’s Golf Club review

North Foreland

North Foreland - Hole 12

Looking down on the two-tier green of the SI1 par-4 twelfth at North Foreland

(Image credit: Jason Livy)

Just up the coast from the big three, North Foreland is an established but still improving and characterful course that boasts the architectural input of Fowler and Simpson, and more recently Martin Hawtree. It has elements of parkland, clifftop and links, but is something altogether different, and all the better for it. There is great variety in the two loops of nine that run either side of Convent Lane, and the 18-hole par-3 Northcliffe course is also great fun.

Walmer & Kingsdown

Walmer & Kingsdown - Hole 3

The approach to the third green at Walmer & Kingsdown

(Image credit: Walmer & Kingsdown Golf Club)

Heading south down the coast past Sandwich, you come to this spectacularly-sited downland/clifftop hybrid. There are fabulous, elevated views out to sea and inland over the Kent countryside, and many of the greens are cut into the hillside. Wind will almost always be a feature, but pick a reasonably peaceful, blue-sky day and it can be heavenly.

Littlestone

Littlestone - Hole 17

The par-3 seventeenth at Littlestone is a superb short hole that provides a real sting in the tail

(Image credit: Jason Livy)

Littlestone is a very enjoyable and historic links where Alister MacKenzie made a number of key changes in the mid-1920s. His legacy remains its defining style and the course is in the Golf Monthly Next 100. The 2nd is very strong with its approach over a ditch and between two large dunes, while the penultimate hole is a superb par 3 played across a dip to a raised and very well bunkered green. The famous water tower serves as a backdrop, and the green at the closing par 5 is a trademark MacKenzie rollercoaster.

- Read full Littlestone Golf Club review

Canterbury

Canterbury - Hole 2

The excellent short second at Canterbury is played over a valley to a well-protected green

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

The incomparable Harry Colt designed the course here and it opened for play in 1927. The course works its way through woods to the east of this historic city, and although it’s not long, the undulations and positional play required through the trees create a very enjoyable and fair test of golf. There are some thrilling, elevated drives and a warm welcome back in the clubhouse.

Rochester & Cobham Park

Rochester & Cobham - Hole 11

A view over the eleventh green and on to the spacious course at Rochester & Cobham Park

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

Hidden away but close to the M2 is a real surprise; a scenic, peaceful and expansive golf course which was beneficiary of a major upgrade by Donald Steel in 1997. The result is 18 strong, varied and very enjoyable holes with subtle and consistent greens. The short par 4s at 4 and 17 are not as simple as they look, and throughout the course there is a premium on approaching the greens from the correct angle.

- Read full Rochester & Cobham Golf Club review

The London Club

London Club - International Course - Hole 8

Looking back from behind the par-3 eighth on the International Course at The London Club

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

There are two very fine, modern and extremely well presented courses at The London Club. The Heritage is the preserve of members and their guests only, but the International is just as good and was good enough to host the 2014 Volvo World Matchplay Championship. There are some thrilling water holes, plenty of risk and reward, and a very informal, welcoming atmosphere.

- Read full The London Club review

Royal Blackheath

Royal Blackheath - Hole 18

The final hole at Royal Blackheath with the historic clubhouse beyond

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

Beneficiary of a recent and comprehensive course renovation, Royal Blackheath is a historic club that has very much moved with the times. Although golf was played on the heath even earlier, the formal institution of this famous club is reckoned to be 1608. Ken Moodie upgraded the James Braid design, and this easy-walking course is greatly improved both strategically, and very importantly, visually. The impressive clubhouse is home to one of the game’s finest museums.

Sundridge Park

Sundridge Park - West Course - Hole 9

Looking down to the ninth green on the West Course at Sundridge Park with the London skyline beyond

(Image credit: Sundridge Park Golf Club)

There are two enjoyable parkland courses at Sundridge Park, with the West dating back to 1903 and designed by Willie Park Junior with modifications from the ubiquitous James Braid. When CK Hutchinson and Guy Campbell were called in to create the East Course in the early 1930s, they also made changes to the West. The Quaggy River and the Kyd Brook cross the property coming into play on a number of holes, and the majority also run through trees adding to the challenge at the same time as making the holes separate and peaceful. 

Chart Hills

Chart Hills Golf Club - Aerial

Chart Hills has greatly benefited from a painstaking renovation over the last couple of years

(Image credit: Chart Hills Golf Club)

This different and very original parkland design was the first course in the UK&I designed by six-time Major winner, Sir Nick Faldo. Opening for play in 1993, Chart Hills was a pioneer of modern, high-tech, top-end courses. Having lost its way a little, new owners took over at the end of 2019 and made the brave and not inexpensive decision to close the course in order to relay and restore the almost grassless fairways as well as upgrade just about everything on and off the course. The result is a born-again beauty running through mature woodland and mixing the very best of the natural landscape with a bold and exciting design.

Knole Park

Knole Park - Hole 8

There are six par 3s at beautiful Knole Park, including this, the downhill eighth

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

Dating back to 1924, the course is blessed with a beautiful setting in a large, still-active, gently undulating deer park. Next door is palatial Knole House, and despite some lengthening half a century ago, the course is pretty much as it was. Every hole is different and distinct and the course frequently changes direction. Two of the prettiest short holes are the 5th which is played over a valley up to a perfectly-sited green, and the downhill 8th which is flanked by ponds and bracken. There is as much variety here as just about anywhere.

- Read full Knole Park Golf Club review

Wildernesse

Wildernesse Golf Club - Hole 18

Looking back from the clubhouse down the closing hole at Wildernesse, a sweeping par 5

(Image credit: Andy Hiseman)

Virtually next door to Knole Park, Wildernesse could hardly be more different. This superbly manicured and challenging layout runs through and around mature, attractive and at times impenetrable woodland. There are lovely short holes at the 5th and 15th and there is a fine flow, feel and balance to the course with its greatest defence perhaps the tougher par 4s such as the 2nd, 3rd, 16th and 17th. The par-5 home hole offers a very enjoyable conclusion, sweeping round to the right to a green overlooked by the elegant and stylish clubhouse.

- Read full Wildernesse Golf Club review

Lamberhurst

Lamberhurst Golf Club - Hole 18

The final hole at Lamberhurst is a driveable par 4… for some!

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

Not far to  the east of Tunbridge Wells, Lamberhurst was a 9-holer until its expansion almost 50 years ago into a full 18. The gently-undulating course features plenty of doglegs and is one of those great designs that is playable by golfers of all standards. Highlights include the pretty par-3 12th played over water, and the three-shotter that follows which will ask questions as it has the River Teise crossing just in front of the green.

Hever Castle

Hever Castle - Championship Course - Hole 13

Looking back from behind the thirteenth green of the Championship Course at Hever Castle

(Image credit: Hever Castle Golf Club)

There are three loops of nine at Hever Castle with the King’s and Queen’s making up the Championship 18 and the Prince’s a very enjoyable but slightly shorter alternative. The original 18 holes date back to 1992 and have plenty of water and trees. Look out for the penultimate hole, just 644 yards from the back tee!

West Kent

West Kent Golf Club - Hole 17

The approach to the penultimate hole at West Kent

(Image credit: West Kent Golf Club)

Fowler and Abercomby designed this charming layout, then the course of Downe Golf Club,  almost a century ago. It fell into disuse during WWII and had become almost unrecognisable before West Kent took it over in 1946. Happily, their enthusiastic golfers lovingly restored it and it is now a lush green golfing oasis right next door to Biggin Hill Airport. This is a course that gets better and better all the way.

There are of course plenty of other courses that are more than worth visiting in Kent. From Ashford to Gillingham, from Lullingstone Park to Redlibbets, and from Sene Valley to West Malling, you will never run out of very enjoyable golf throughout the county.

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012 specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played 1,150 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions last year, he still managed to play 80 different courses during 2021, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. Rob is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.