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England’s south coast has surprisingly few links courses with Littlehampton the only representative of the breed in West Sussex - Rob Smith reviews the course
Littlehampton Golf Club Course Review
I’ve been playing golf in the south of England for nearly 40 years, yet for some reason the old links at Littlehampton Golf Club had escaped my advances until last Summer when I played in their popular and very friendly Mixed Open. Sussex has some lovely downland courses, but links courses are few and far between.
The club is now in its 127th year, and having started as a 9-holer, it was expanded into a full 18 before a major upgrade by the original Hawtree, Frederick George, and his partner JH Taylor. Since then, the Hawtree dynasty has been responsible for designing or modifying many wonderful courses, a good number of which are in the Golf Monthly Top 100 and Next 100.
The links stretches over an easy-walking expanse of fine turf on the western side of the River Arun, which separates it from the town, and there is a brook that snakes its way over the northern side of the course that makes it almost an island.
It opens with a tough hole when there’s a southerly breeze with an intrusive bunker waiting on the front edge, and the 2nd has a run-off to the right which calls for a well-judged approach. The 3rd is played away from the beach and is one of five, varied short holes that run in every direction.
At the par-3 6th, which on the day was the nearest-the-pin for the chaps, we heard a roar go up as a hole-in-one was recorded ahead of our group… by one of the ladies!
At the next, you are in wonderfully peaceful countryside as you play a stretch that takes you to the far end of the course via the lovely dogleg 9th which is played from a tee up by the sea wall.
Eleven is a very attractive short hole where I managed to hit a high shot close before impressing my sister by missing from six feet.
The 12th and 13th are both strong par 4s, and we all enjoyed an encounter with a young swan family by the tee at the latter.
Happily, I made amends for the miss on 11 with a birdie at the tough 14th where my approach was so close that even I could not miss. As so often happens, my next shot with the same ball - the drive at 15 - saw a hook so far left that it was never seen again.
The final par 3 at 16 is another pretty hole played over the stream, and there is an excellent 2-shotter closing hole to a long green beside the pavilion-style clubhouse.
I must confess to smiling at this sign at the far end of the course on a balmy Sunday in June, but then I must also confess to using artistic licence here as the real message was on the other side!
From the back tees, I was satisfied with my typically balanced score of 32 points - 11 out, then 21 on the back nine with a blob at 15! I also thoroughly enjoyed relaxing amongst the visitors from many clubs, and came home with the impression that Littlehampton Golf Club is a very friendly place at which to be a member.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.