Littlestone Golf Club Course Review
Par 71, 6,438 yards
GM Verdict – A fine course that adds a fourth dimension to the strong links attraction of the Kent coast beyond the three Open Championship venues.
Favourite Hole – A toss-up between the excellent par-3 17th and the exceedingly difficult long par-4 16th hole that precedes it.
The links at Littlestone, which dates back to 1888 and is one of the best golf courses in Kent, shares the same designer as Royal St George’s in William Laidlaw Purves, though James Braid and Alister MacKenzie have both played a role in its evolution. There’s a seemingly straightforward opener to ease you into your round if you don’t try to force things prematurely, tempting though it may be, especially downwind. But things then gradually become more complex as you make your way round the essentially flat, but invariably intriguing, linksland.
There are no towering dunes to negotiate really, though you will have to thread your approach between two of the taller ones on the 2nd through a dip in the dune ridge that affords you a helpful sight of the flag if you haven’t strayed too far right or left off the tee – a little like the 3rd at Muirfield. The 3rd is then a strong par 4 where anything too far right off the tee will make the approach much harder, especially from long range into the wind.
The quartet of par 3s here is particularly strong, all the more so for playing to all four points of the compass, so you’ll typically have to try and master a fully array of different wind directions. The 17th is the pick of the quartet, a long one-shotter playing slightly up to a green protected by a scattering of cunning bunkers and mounds. The 6th is perhaps the second best of the quartet, with run-offs either side testing your short game skills - or wisdom - should you miss the target, which is highly likely in the sea breeze
The links finishes with a flourish, with the 16th a long, tough par 4 (a par 5 for many in all but name!) that turns gently left and up to the green. After that excellent 17th hole, where the green can prove quite elusive if the breeze is up, the closing par 5 may allow you to potentially repair any scorecard damage from the two holes that precede it, but it must still be treated with suitable respect.
There is a second links at Littlestone too in the Warren course, which started life as Romney Warren golf course in 1993. This shorter layout opens with a surprisingly long and testing par 4 before settling into a pattern of short, sporting par 4s interspersed with the occasional par 3. Any of those par 4s could represent a real chance depending on wind direction, while the 7th is the toughest one-shotter at over 200 yards.
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Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
Jeremy is currently playing...
Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft
3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft
Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft
Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)
Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response
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