Leeds Castle Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Andrew Picken
Set against the backdrop of historic Leeds Castle in Kent, this charming nine-hole golf course meanders through the stunning parkland of the castle estate. The course was originally built on the 500-acre estate in 1924 for the owner at the time, The Hon Lady Baillie.
My visit to this course was a real eye opener. I will be honest and admit that I was not as excited to be playing at this venue as much as some of the Open venues on my itinerary. How wrong was I? This is a thoroughly enjoyable, pleasant and most important, FUN, golfing facility.
We arrived two hours early but it was impossible to move our tee time forward as the course was full. The fantastic utilitarian clubhouse was full. Sue's Kitchen was full. Every table was full with customers eating one of the fantastic breakfasts on offer. It was full with very happy and contented golfers. This was 8am on a Thursday morning! How many other golf clubs would have loved to have been in this position?
One point to note for the visiting golfer is that the golf club entrance is different to that of the main Leeds Castle. There is a lot of signage for the Castle itself so don’t make the mistake of pulling off the road too early. There is ample car parking adjacent to the course accessed off the A20. Look out for the pub and golf signage.
Before my alloted tee time I went onto the course to take some photographs and spoke to a group of golfers who for the first time in my golf review career actually begged me not to promote the facility as they felt it would become too popular and they wanted it to be their own golfing secret. One of them said: “The value and quality of this course in this location is fantastic and we don’t want it to get too popular.” I had to disappoint him given that my reviews always try to be as honest and complete as possible.
There is also a designated short game coaching area. The biggest marketing strength of the facility is the ability to be able to make bespoke packages that perfectly match the needs of the golfers. There is a requirement for golf clothes to be worn but this is an informal and friendly facility that is clearly very popular.
The 9 hole course recently underwent a major investment programme that has thoroughly revitalised it. It has a quality design being influenced by Sir Guy Campbell. Nine holes play to a yardage of 2843 yards with a par of 34. Seven par 4s, two par 3s. The longest hole is the 6th at 443 yards.
Hole 1 is a 294 yard par 4 that requires a decent drive to a green situated up a hill by some very well established trees and foliage. Bunkers protect short left ensuring clubbing for the second shot is at a premium.
Hole 2 is a 351 yard par 4. Tight fairways require and accurate tee shot to provide any opportunity for a decent approach to the green. Again bunkers defend the shorter shot in to the green.
Hole 3 is a 315 yard par 4.Tight dog leg left to right protected by bunkers at the shoulder of the turn.
Hole 4 is a 172 yard par 3, protected by bunkers short, left and right.
Hole 5 is a 417 yard par 4 that goes dramatically downhill towards the castle and the moat. Visually, this is a dramatic golf hole.
Hole 6 is 443 yards par 4. This hole folds around the edge of the moat providing a gentle dog leg and some interesting fairway undulations and a worrisome water hazard in the form of the castle moat along its length. This is another interesting golf hole.
Hole 7 at 379 yards is another short but tight par 4. This incorporates another water hazard that bisects the fairway.
Hole 8 is a par 3 playing at 141 yards.
Hole 9 is a 331 yard par 4 that plays back up the slope towards the clubhouse.
In today’s time restricted lifestyle this sort of shorter golfing layout seems to be very well placed for success. It certainly backs up the findings of this recent report.
More then just golf
Its unique selling point is provided by stunning views of the 900-year old Castle. Leeds Castle has been; a Norman stronghold; the private property of six medieval queens of England and King Henry VIII; a Jacobean country house; an elegant early 20th century retreat for the influential and famous. With this kind of historic pedigree it is no surprise that it has become one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain.
Leeds Castle has extensive links to the history of the RAF as it was also used as a rehabilitation centre by injured service personnel during world war two.
If you are planning a trip it is worth checking out their website as there are so many other activities run from the castle that could also be of interest to include in a trip. There is an also a wide range of accommodation available. I would dearly like to try the Glamping advertised and combine it with a classical concert or open air theatre and some golf.
Images from the Official Leeds Castle Website
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|Leeds Castle Golf Club
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