insideKENT Magazine Issue 49 - April 2016 - Page 71

GOLF Kent: A Golfer’s Paradise With its dramatic east coast trail of some of England’s finest links and an array of majestic parkland and downland courses set in the heart of the county’s rolling landscape, it’s hardly surprising that Kent is regarded as a golfer’s paradise. Although probably best known as the home to Royal St George’s, thanks to its Open Championship heritage (it has an impressive 14 Opens to its name) and regular appearances at the top of course rankings, Kent boasts two other former Open Championship venues. Royal Cinque Ports, which staged the prestigious major in 1909 and 1920, and Prince’s, host in 1932, are both regarded amongst the finest links in England that provide tough challenges thanks to undulating fairways, tricky greens and the regular presence of sea breezes. To the north of this magnificent trio is North Foreland, founded in 1903. Perched high above Kent’s white cliffs ensuring spectacular seascapes from every hole, its wide fairways disguise a tricky track thanks to strategically placed bunkers. Back down the coast by Romney Marsh is yet another fine links. Littlestone, founded in 1888, is laid out on naturally rolling land amongst its own range of sand dunes and enjoys its own unique microclimate making it one of the driest places in England. Inland from here lies a host of parkland and downland gems set out on Kent’s idyllic landscape. Perhaps best known of these is one of Kent’s premier clubs, the London Golf Club. Just 20 miles from London, its two championship courses were designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus. The Heritage provides an exhilarating test for golfers of all abilities whilst The International is pure downland and the quick, undulating fairways force a links-style approach. Testament to its quality, The International staged the 2014 Volvo World Match Play Championship on the European Tour. Two of the stand-out parkland layouts in Kent are Hever Castle and Tudor Park, which both offer on-site accommodation. Hever Castle is not only one of Kent's most iconic attractions, it is home to a 7,002-yard, par-72 championship parkland course, comprising the Kings and Queens 9-hole courses, as well as the nine-hole Princes Course, complemented by a Tudor-style clubhouse and luxurious accommodation in the castle’s Astor Wing. Tudor Park Marriott offers a spa, gym and swimming pool for post-golf R&R. Kent is also an ideal destination for those just taking up the game. The Pentland golf courses of Boughton near Canterbury and Etchinghill overlooking the Elham Valley provide a great introduction to golf with great practice facilities, whilst the picturesque Lullingstone Park, with views over Lullingstone Castle, is ideal for those looking for a more relaxed round. Off the course, England’s oldest county offers a rich and varied culture, historic buildings, castles