In recent months we have featured a range of spectacular golf courses with exotic and breath taking settings. North Foreland is just a wonderful golf club - simple.
Founded in 1903, this corner of East Kent on which the golf course stands today, is steeped in history. Kingsgate, once a poor fishing village, became the 18th century grand estate of Lord Holland. Part of the estate was later bought by Sir William Capel Slaughter, founder of the international law firm Slaughter and May, and where he laid out the first golf course at North Foreland.
Following Sir William’s death, Lord Northcliffe purchased and enlarged the golf course in 1918, building a new clubhouse, then a single storey building from which, during World War II, club members would sit on the veranda watching skywards as the Battle of Britain raged overhead.
The Main Championship Course is a lovely mixture of links, parkland and clifftop, borrowing bits of all of these styles in a very playable and attractive way. The greens are slick and perfectly kept, despite a huge amount of play. The course is traditional and certainly not of the newer designs. It has evolved into itself and is a very comfortable and agreeable place to play. The location is urban, with a road separating the first half of the course. This could break up the rhythm of play, but this does not happen at North Foreland - it is just part of the deal. The course has been used as a final qualifying venue for The Open Championship when it has been held at the nearby Royal St George’s.
There is also a par three course – the Northcliffe Course. As part of the club’s lease with the Council, the Northcliffe Course also welcomes visiting players to ‘pay and play’, and so has allowed the club to draw more people into the game over many years. It provides an excellent opportunity for golfers to hone their skills on holes that vary in distance from 50 to 140 yards.
North Foreland is involved in Operation Pollinator – an initiative to help restore the plight of the bumblebee and other crucial pollinating insects. Over the coming seasons they will be establishing and managing areas of pollen and nectar rich wildflower habitat that will provide essential food resources and nesting habitat for pollinators, including native bees, butterflies and other insects. The project intends to start with relatively small areas, to learn the techniques and develop a system that works effectively for them. North Foreland is being supported by Syngenta and ecology and environmental specialists from the STRI.
Darren Parris is the club’s PGA professional and heads up the teaching team as well as stocking a comprehensively equipped shop. There are four professionals at North Foreland, with Alex Brown, head assistant and Matt Hart and Tito Triana completing the team. With so much golf equipment now being sold made to measure, it is not surprising that the main focus for club sales is for custom fitted equipment. The studio has an impressive array of technology (GC2 from Foresight Sports) and a growing reputation for giving first class advice. So many golf professionals have given up any meaningful retail, it is refreshing to see such a strong offering of the latest brands and a really good choice of all the items a golfer could want to buy. Darren is a major stockist of TaylorMade and so their equipment dominates one of the main walls. The shop is within the main clubhouse and at the heart of the social activity. This is one of the main reasons for its success - relationships are the key and these are built and developed at North Foreland by regular contact and a warm and friendly service.
The social scene at North Foreland is strong and dominates activity in the clubhouse. There are function rooms downstairs, which are regularly used for club events and other functions from the local community. The everyday bar on the first floor overlooking the course and the restaurant downstairs are where the club comes alive; it is a spacious area with a long sun room opening onto a balcony overlooking the course and out towards the Channel - on a fine day you can see all the way to France.
There is an excellent range of food on the menu and all is well priced and nicely presented by friendly staff, who are happy to ensure that everyone is fully cared for. There is a substantial discount on drinks and food for members, so many eat at the club regularly. The open plan space can be sectioned off to provide a number of layouts, depending on the requirements of a particular event.
North Foreland is a great place to play and visit and there are more details at:
http://www.northforeland.co.uk North Foreland is a member of the Golf in Kent Partnership that promotes the county as one of England’s premier golf destinations, more at: www.golfinkent.co.uk