2-fore!-1 Golf in England: South East
36 Courses in Hampshire, Surrey, Kent , Kent , Liphook, Buckinghamshire , SITTINGBOURNE, Berkshire, London, Kent, Freshwater Bay, Copthorne, Berkshire , East Sussex, Sussex, Oxford , Watford, Chalfont Saint Giles, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Headcorn , West Berkshire
South East England is one of the largest regions in England and has the highest population. It is comprised of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East and West Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire and Surrey. London is nearby and with the coastline edging the English Channel, Europe is only a ferry ride away. The Thames flows through the region and there are two national parks, the New Forest and South Downs. Many sites of historical and international interest are located in South East England. These include Windsor Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, the White Cliffs of Dover, Brighton Pier, Oxford University and many more. South East England is also a fabulous region for golfers. It is home to around 475 golf clubs and a good number of these hold high ranking within the UK and in world 'Top 100s'.
Following is a closer look at three main sub-regions.
Golf in Sussex
Along with Hampshire, coastal Sussex is the sunniest place in England. Sea breezes gusting off the English Channel clear the skies and freshen the air, bringing maximum sunlight to this coastal area. Across Sussex more widely, there are fewer rainy days than is the average for most of the UK. In this climate that encourages outdoor play are around 70 golf clubs, and scattered throughout the county are very fine parkland, woodland and heathland golf courses, as well as links courses near the sea.
Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club in East Sussex has two golf courses, the Old course and the West course. Each can be considered golfing royalty. Both are known for their ability to challenge your golfing skills without presenting any sand bunkers, and for the essential natural state of each course. The club was founded in 1888 and the Old course received Royal status in 1893. The West course, which is flatter and shorter than the Old, received the title as a Royal ladies course, in 1932. If you are challenged to take on the Old course, which can be strenuous, you will be rewarded with incredible views over the forest and surrounding countryside.
Crowborough Beacon Golf Club, nearby in East Sussex, was established in 1895. This wonderful elevated heathland course is worth visiting for the views alone, which extend to the South Downs and towards the coast where, on a clear day, you can see the sea. The Crowborough Beacon golf course has the 'MacKenzie factor', with several of the holes having been redesigned by the Doc. For literary historians, this gem awaits: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Captained the club in 1910, adding yet another touch of magic to these beautiful heathland fairways. Around 16 of his Sherlock Homes stories, and scores of other writings, followed after that date, so the Crowborough Beacon Golf Course may well have inspired some of these. The bursts of heather and gorse, the gullies and stream running through, the springy heathland turf and inspirational views: a golf course to thoroughly enjoy.
Golf in Kent
Kent, in the South East corner of England, borders the English Channel and is also one of the warmest places in the UK. France is just over 20 miles across the water and on a clear day can be seen from Folkestone and the iconic White Cliffs of Dover. With flourishing orchards, berry farms and hop gardens, Kent is the 'Garden of England'. Bordering Greater London, it is within easy travelling distance for city golfers. It is home to around 100 golf clubs, many with fabulous views over the Channel or across the patchwork of orchards and gardens, Three of these clubs, the three 'Royals', have hosted the Open Championship, with the Royal St George being the host more than a dozen times. All through Kent are many magnificent parkland and heathland golf courses across lush, rolling terrain, with accommodation nearby, fresh produce to dine on and a golfer friendly climate.
The Royal St George Golf Club in Sandwich has hosted the Open Championship 14 times and will be host again in 2020. Founded in 1887, the club has its own legendary place in golf history, being the first English golf club ever to host the Open, in 1894. More recently, it was here that Darren Clarke took out the Championship in 2011. The Royal St George Golf Club is one of England's most outstanding links courses and is consistently listed as one of the world's best. The course layout is essentially the same as it was when it first was played, flowing through dunes and rough in two large, loose circles. Every hole is different and the club notes that "no two successive holes play in the same direction", so the changing winds will test your golfing skills. Fantastic views over the ocean and the White Cliffs will inspire your game.
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire
These three counties have shared a common golf union since 1924, the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Union of Golf Clubs. Berkshire lays claim to having the oldest club within the union, being Newbury & Crookham Golf Club established in 1873. The Berkshire Golf Club itself has two beautiful courses, the Red and the Blue. Both are charming woodland courses designed by Herbert Fowler, set among thick clouds of heather with mature trees around and wonderful springy turf. There is also the more recent West Berkshire Golf Club, which offers an immaculately presented parkland course of 7,000 yards, superb dining fare and an atmosphere that is welcoming, friendly and relaxed.
Buckinghamshire is known for its array of luxurious parkland golf courses, including the three championship courses at Woburn Golf Club: The Duke's, The Duchess and the Marquess.
Oxfordshire offers the historic heathland/ woodland course at Huntercombe, designed by Willie Park Jnr, which opened in 1901. Willie Park Jnr owned this course himself, rather than being hired by someone else to create a particular design. This means that he was able to give free rein to his imagination and vision as he worked on the layout and to put his heart and soul into the design, unreservedly. To play at Huntercombe is to experience a unique and memorable golfing legacy. Other than the woodland growing up around what was originally a heathland course, it remains as Park created it.