Jeremy Ellwood enjoys a not-to-be-missed stay and play golf break on the magnificent Leeds Castle estate near Maidstone in Kent
Leeds Castle Golf Stay and Play Review
par 34, 2.843 yards
The very pretty, compact nine-hole course dates back to 1931 when Sir Guy Campbell (who also designed the fine heathland course at West Sussex) was commissioned by Leeds Castle owner, Lady Baillie, to create a golf course for her house party guests to enjoy.
The layout is a real contrast of styles. In places, it feels almost heathland; elsewhere it is reminiscent of the course at Knole Park further west in Kent at Sevenoaks.
You’ll need to have your wits about you over the short but very tight opening holes. The 1st plays blind over a crest and the 2nd then presents you with a narrow funnel of a fairway.
The 3rd is where that semi-heathland feel kicks in, a potentially drivable par 4 with a wide, shallow green.
The 5th invites you to open your shoulders as you fire one down towards the castle itself via an extremely generous fairway. The long and difficult 6th then hugs the moat all the way to its green, all the while serving up distracting views of the magnificent castle.
You head away from the castle on the down-and-up 7th before looping back for home via an uphill par 3 then a short but testing par-4 finale. Precision off the tee is paramount here if you’re to set up a simple short iron up the hill and over the water to the most-bunkered green on the course.
The chance to stay and play in the grand setting of Leeds Castle in Kent, which Henry VIII transformed into a royal palace, is a rare privilege.
You don’t stay in the castle itself, but there are many different accommodation options from B&B in the Stable Courtyard or Maiden’s Tower, to one of several lovely holiday cottages or even a spot of glamping in fittingly medieval pavilions.
The courtyard rooms are beautifully decorated in keeping with the ambience of the whole estate, and dining in the excellent Castle View Restaurant is a real treat, almost more so out of season with the castle lit up spectacularly against the night sky.
One of the real bonuses of a stay and play visit to Leeds Castle is that all staying guests get a free pass to the castle and grounds where there is a huge amount to see and do. You are also welcome to walk the gardens and grounds outside of normal visitor hours.
The whole estate covers 500 acres, ranging from open parkland to the beautiful Culpeper and Princess Alexandra Gardens and much more.
Leeds Castle’s mix of enjoyable golf with luxury accommodation and a rich heritage makes for a unique stay and play experience.