Think of golf in Kent and you think of the great trio of Open links in Sandwich and Deal. But there are more fine courses on the coast and inland too

This tour of golf in Kent takes us first down to the coast, then back up to a couple of 20th century newcomers created by Messrs Faldo and Nicklaus respectively

North Foreland

The two par 3s down at the clifftops by the Captain Digby pub stand out heading out, the 5th playing up to a ruined folly that once had a tall central tower, and the 7th a little longer with wonderful views of Kingsgate Castle to the right.

The 17th is the pick of the homeward run – a long par four that sweeps down and then up to a green with a steep slope at the front, a deep run-off to the right and a large grassy hollow to the left.

The tough 8th hole at North Foreland

The tough 8th hole at North Foreland


The long demanding par-4 16th (a par 5 for many in all but name!) and the superb par 3 that follows it have always stood out for me, but the other 16 holes are none too shabby, with things hotting up immediately after the short par 4 opener.

At 407 yards, the 2nd is a mid-length par 4 with the approach played between a dip in the dune ridge that affords you a helpful sight of the flag if you haven’t strayed too far offline off the tee – a little like the 3rd at Muirfield.

A good drive on Littlestone's 2nd opens up a view of the green between the dunes

A good drive on Littlestone’s 2nd opens up a view of the green between the dunes


While the Shore and Dunes nines are considered the Prince’s ‘course’ by many, I’ll admit to having a soft spot for the Himalayas, which perhaps has greater variety among its holes.

The 7th here is as fearsome a long par 3 as you’ll encounter when the wind is up, playing to a raised green with steep run-offs either side.

But if you’re looking for the hardest hole at Prince’s, look no further than the 1st on the Dunes, a long dogleg left where the fairway is hard to find, but not as hard as the upturned saucer green,

The 4th hole on Prince's Shore nine early in the morning

The 4th hole on Prince’s Shore nine early in the morning

Royal Cinque Ports

The links gets going quickly with the excellent par-5 3rd, where the word ‘undulating’ takes on its fullest meaning.

A punchbowl green lies semi-hidden beyond the final crest, with the trickiest pin positions towards the back. Several outgoing holes flank the sea wall, with the 6th green right up against it.

Generally you must make your score heading out as the turn for home from the 12th offers little respite all the way back to the clubhouse other than perhaps the par-5 16th.

The punchbowl green on Royal Cinque Port's 3rd hole

The punchbowl green on Royal Cinque Port’s 3rd hole

Royal St George’s

I absolutely love everything St George’s has to offer, from the feeling of spaciousness around the 1st tee to the sheer individuality the holes.

No two holes are remotely the same here, which can’t be said of several otherwise very fine links.

When you step off the final green, it’s likely that every facet of your game will have been tested, from position off the tee, to accuracy on the approach and deftness of touch.

The links terrain at Royal St George's is uniquely rumpled for an Open course

The links terrain at Royal St George’s is uniquely rumpled for an Open course

Chart Hills

The 1st on this expansive Faldo design is a grand opening hole that sweeps away and down to the right, before the course heads off into the rolling Kent countryside through and around mature trees and woodland.

The famous Anaconda bunker stretches for miles along the right of the par-5 5th, and the final hurrah is a memorable island-green 17th, similar in length to the 17th at Sawgrass. It may not be long, but it’s surprising how inaccurate you can become when it really matters.

There's much sand at Nick Faldo's Chart Hills - this is the 16th hole

There’s much sand at Nick Faldo’s Chart Hills – this is the 16th hole

London Club – International course

The Nicklaus-designed International course boasts some of the best water holes you’ll ever play. You get a taster on the par-5 1st, where a large lake short right immediately tests the nerve.

But it is the 8th where the full force of this lake comes into play, a long par 3 which is all carry over the water and which seems to play longer than the yardage.

Four holes later, there’s a touch of déjà vu on the 12th, this time from a slightly more elevated tee, and the 13th is then a great risk-reward par 5 where most will choose to play around the lake though there is a more direct approach across the water for the brave or foolhardy.

The London Club International course's 12th hole - one of several testing water holes

The London Club International course’s 12th hole – one of several testing water holes