The golf courses and historic estate of Hever Castle, in west Kent, is the latest golf property to link up with Golf in Kent to further enhance the county as an all-round golfing destination in England.
The Golf in Kent Partnership, run in association with Visit Kent, promotes England’s oldest county as ‘A golfer’s paradise in the Garden of England’ thanks to its fine array of coastal links and inland courses, a wide range of accommodation, its wealth of off-course cultural and historical attractions, all set against the backdrop of its verdant, rolling countryside and dramatic white cliffs.
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 that are complemented by a Tudor-style clubhouse.
Golf was first introduced at Hever in the 1920s when a private 9-hole course was built north of the Hever lakes where today’s championship course now lies. It was created for the personal enjoyment of the then owners, the Astor family, and to entertain friends and business contacts.
The championship course now boasts an array of stunning holes across its 7,002 yard, par 72 layout, with the 644-yard, par 5 17th regarded as its standout hole. The delightful short 6th and 8th holes on the front nine are both played over water whilst a stunning stretch of holes from the 11th to the 13th – Hever’s very own “Amen Corner” – offers carries over water and onto tricky, slick greens that require careful negotiation.
Testament to the quality of the championship course, the Kent Open and Kent PGA Championships have been staged at Hever in recent times and was showcased on Sky Sports TV when it hosted a PGA EuroPro Tour event in 2010.
The Hever estate also offers golfers the chance to experience an overnight stay in two of its historic buildings, either in its five-star luxury B&B in the Astor Wing and the Anne Boleyn Wing, an Edwardian wing attached to the Castle, or in its five-star, gold-rated cottage, Medley Court, which is ideal for a group or families.
Hever Castle itself offers visitors a rich and fascinating past, with the oldest parts of the Castle dating back to the 13th century. Later in the 1500s, it was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and it was here that Henry VIII first courted the young Anne, establishing the property’s royal connection. Later in its history, Henry’s fourth wife Anne of Cleves was the proud owner of Hever.
In 1903 it was purchased by William Waldorf Astor, one of the richest men in America at the time, who invested time, money and imagination into restoring the Castle and building the incredible Italian gardens and the ‘Tudor Village’ which is now known as the Astor Wing.
“We are very excited to partner the Visit Kent Golf Programme as we offer a unique golfing experience that combines good quality golf set against the backdrop of an incredibly historic setting that appeals to both local and international golfers,” said Jon Wittenberg, general manager at Hever Castle Golf Club.
“The new accommodation at the Castle provides a luxurious and atmospheric experience and is a perfect base from which to play a number of local Kent courses. This includes of course Hever Castle’s very own 18-hole championship Kings and Queens Courses that are complemented by the Princes nine-hole course. Our courses and the historic estate receive fantastic feedback from golfers and non-golfers alike, from those in the UK and from all around the world.”
Hever Castle joins a host of fine golf courses that form part of the Golf in Kent brand; the Open Championship links of Royal St George’s, Royal Cinque Ports and Prince’s, another links gem at Littlestone, the clifftop course at North Foreland, the Jack Nicklaus-designed London Golf Club, the David Steel course at the Marriott Tudor Park and the charming inland courses of Lullingstone, Boughton, Etchinghill, London Beach and Kings Hill that are set in the picturesque, rolling countryside of Kent.
Golf in Kent is also supported by a variety of accommodation providers; Shepherd Neame Coaching Inns & Hotels and Hand Picked Hotels, which have two hotels in Kent, Chilston Park Hotel and Brandshatch Place Hotel & Spa, and the Tudor Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club in Bearsted and now Hever Castle.
To add to this Kent has a plethora of off-course attractions in terms of history, heritage, ancient monuments, gardens and national parks all set within a natural and varied landscape. The county is also making a name for itself as a gastronomic destination to go with its long-standing tradition of producing local ales – Shepherd Neame is England’s oldest brewer – and its growing reputation as a producer of fine wines.
Hence Kent is regularly referred to as a golfer’s paradise in the ‘Garden of England’.
The Visit Kent Golf Partners group was originally set up by Visit Kent in 2009 when it launched a three-year campaign, timed to capitalise on the staging of The Open Championship at Royal St George’s in 2011, to develop the county into a credible golfing destination.