Just north of Dover lie the old towns of Sandwich and Deal and the 3 well known links - Royal St George's, Royal Cinque Ports and Princes. Unfortunately my only experience here was in the very hot dry summer of 2006. Royal Cinque Ports and Princes in particular were burnt to a crisp (as was Rye a little further on).The two
'Royals' are very good although I don't rate them as high as some of the reviewers. Princes has 3 separate nines and I thought was somewhat disappointing with few memorable holes. This area is very popular in the summer months so you should organize accommodation in the Deal locality well in advance.
(photo Royal St George's)
After you pass the tunnel entrance near Folkestone you travel on the A259 before a short seaside detour at New Romney to the links at Littlestone. This is quite a good test of links golf but on the negative side the course is rather flat and the once sea views have been lost behind the concrete sea wall that is close by on part of the back nine.
The magnificent and historical links of Rye are located near Camber. This is not the easiest course for visitors to access but it is worth the effort to get a game here. A young Harry Colt designed Rye and he was elected as the first Captain. Bernard Darwin spent his last years here before he died in 1961 at 85 years of age. The par 3's are legendary at Rye. Miss the green and you will almost always face a difficult second shot, particularly at the 5th and 7th. If the course is firm and dry then the hogs back 4th can prove very tricky. The fairways are not watered at Rye so it frequently gets a very brown look in the summer months. On the other hand, it is generally playable right through the winter months.
As you head west along the coast you also have the option of going inland to the many brilliant heathland courses such as Royal Ashdown Forest and Crowborough Beacon to the north of Brighton and West Sussex near Pulborough north of Littlehampton. These will be discussed in the inland courses section. At Littlehampton I am told there is a good little seaside links that is well worth playing. It is probably the only 18 hole links I have not played in all of the British Isles.
The last true links before you reach the Devon and Cornwall area is Hayling near Portsmouth. Especially when the wind blows this is a seriously good test of links golf. There are a few blind shots here so I was fortunate to have played with the club professional, Ray Gadd. The 13th 'Widow' is memorable with a blind drive beside the beach to a steep hill running down to the green with out of bounds just at the back. Accurate driving is absolutely essential at Hayling as, apart from the rough, there is plenty of gorse in play.
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