One of the oldest links courses around and the the only links in Sussex, Littlehampton has been my home course for nearly 15 years. I’ve been a member for many of those only having breaks for Uni, house moves and breaks from golf.
I play off 8 currently and I hit a reasonable ball, so here is my hole by hole review of what we call ‘LA’ and how I think you should play each hole.
Hole 1. A cracking opening hole, probably one of the toughest in Sussex. Big hitters need to be very straight if they don’t want to find trouble over the ridge which sits at 250 yards. Right or left over the ridge often spells lost ball. Shorter than the ridge lies a bunker on the right to catch the 220′s.
I generally play a 3 wood off the tee to just short of the ridge or on a good day just over. This leaves anything from an 8 iron right through to a hydrid into the tough green protected heavily by two pot bunkers 40 yards short and another to the right hand side of the green. Going in them almost always spells blob. So decision to be made with the second shot. Lay up for a bump and run onto the green, or fly it all the way.
Take your shot here if you get one and be happy with a solid 5 or a one put par.
Hole 2. Changed recently there have been two pot bunkers added to protect this reasonably short par 4. A long drive will make par easy but the bunkers at about 230 and 250 will catch you and penalise if you are not perfectly straight. I hit a 3 wood again, or if I’m feeling loose a driver. Leaving anything between 80-140 yards. Fairly simple approach but don’t leak it right or pull it into the rough on the left. Long tricky green means there are not too many birdies, but take a par and you’ll happily stroll to 3.
Hole 3. Shortish par 3 playing anything between 150 and 190. Green well protected right and left. The wind is a major factor here, I’ve hit anything from a pitching wedge to a driver into this hole. Very high stroke index but often one of the toughest holes on comp day. Escape with a par and a smile.
Hole 4. Par 5 where the white tees add another 50 yards and a tough tee shot for the shorter hitters or beginners. Play from the yellows makes it a birdie hole but from the tips you need a solid drive followed by a good second to give you a chance of sticking a short iron into this green. A few bunkers line the fairway and two round the green catch those who try and hit the green n two. Driver, hybrid and short iron, one putt birdie or two putt par and you’ll rack a few points up on the way to the 5th tee.
Hole 5. Lovely par 5 this. Longer hitters can get home in two but the rife which winds it way down the right and across the hole catches more balls than you’d ever imagine. Keep the ball left side and the rife will not worry you. If you are far enough up the fairway to have a go then go for it, but stay left. If you are not then take your medicine. Hit a ball to the corner or over it with a medium iron and play a short iron in from there. The pin on this green can make a big difference. Undulating ridges make hitting the correct portion of the green key to a birdie chance.
Hole 6. Decent par 3 this. Often into a strong breeze into and from the right or left. Can be as much as a 3wood here. More often a hybrid into the wind and anything like a 8/9 iron with it. Avoid the bunkers and either aim to lay up at the front of its a short flag, or fly all the way if its a white flag. Fairly flat green but the hole thing slopes towards the tee so putting right back down the slope in the summer can be like glass. Par is a great score here.
Hole 7. Short par 4 and your first taste of a high tee on the dunes. A bunker left will catch shorter drivers and anything sprayed right makes the second shot in longer than you’d like. But bigger hitters can smash there way down this hole leaving a short bump from the fairway or the rough. The green is well protected right and left but the flat surface makes this hole a birdie chance.
Hole 8. Somewhere between a pitching wedge and a hybrid, wind, weather and flag position make this hole very different week to week. Back right flag and you’ve got a nice bowl to aim at. Front flag is not too bad but landing area is almost non existent. Back left and you’ve gotta hit a perfect tee shot to be in with a birdie chance. Once again, like the previous 2 par threes, take your par and run.
Hole 9. Nice end to the front nine, another elevated tee, don’t push your tee shot as shorter hitters will find a bunker and longer hitters will lose the ball. A slight draw is perfect but a low pull isn’t actually too bad, so the draw down the left is the right shot. A shortish second shot is the result for those who go left side. Green is protected right left and long left, so hit the right portion and you’ve got a chance of par or better, don’t go long.
Hole 10. Slight dogleg left around 360 yards. Believe it or not, in the summer a longer hitter can draw this round to the green. (I know, i’ve done it – but missed the eagle). Any tee shot hugging the left will be fine, but too far left and you are in the dunes. Too far right and a hillock will get in the way and a possible bunker. Over that same bunker is a thick grass rough area which makes hitting the green tough, especially with the bunker left, front right and side right of the green. Aim left and the ball will filter down to the green. A front pin is easiest here, a back right the toughest. If its back right, dont get sucked in, long and right makes par very tough.
Hole 11. In my opinion the easiest hole out there. Playing anywhere from 125 to 160 a short iron needs to fly all the way to eliminate the nasty bunker front left. Fly that bunker and another one is left of the green to catch your ball. Right hand bunker is a tough one too, but the mounds either side often provide a nice friendly bounce towards the green. Real birdie hole this one – especially with a front flag. Grab your ball and focus on the drive on 12.
Hole 12. Stroke index one. This hole really is all about the drive. Get 250+ and you have a shortish iron in which makes a par a possibility. A bunker about 200 off the tee catches a lot of balls and anything under 250 means you are trying to thread a long shot between two humps, past the rife on one side, the reeds on the other. Then the green has two bunkers and some horrid pin positions. A real rewarding hole if you get it right, but one where a 10+ is possible if you hook the ball a couple of times. Take a par and smile.
Hole 13. Great little par four. The rife cuts across the fairway from the left catching any ball short and left. Then it loops back left and runs the length of the hole. Long hitters should consider a 3-5wood here. Anything too long and down the left can end up beside the water or in the scrub which lines the waters edge. Much like the right hand side of 12, the right rough can easily mean a lost ball in the summer, even if you find it, getting it out needs forearms like Casey. The green is a severe slope up front to back. A back flag brings greenside right bunkers into play. Getting off the tee and into position will yield a birdie chance.
Hole 14. Probably my favourite hole out there. Expansive undulating fairway, but water across at 150 and all the way down the right coupled with a horrible left hand side mean that something gets in your head and the wide fairway looks way smaller than it is. A big drive means you’ve got a decent chance of a short iron in. Flying a short iron at this green is far safer than hitting a long iron or hybrid from further back as they bring the fairway bunker into play. The bunker is a deceiving 50+ yards from the green so fly that and let the ball bounce and roll towards the green. Front right and left have bunkers that will hurt your par chance, so avoid them. A well threaded second shot will give you a decent birdie chance on this reasonably simple green. Miss the green and it becomes a different beast.
Hole 15. Recently adjusted this is a short par four with plenty of trouble. Long hitters can take a 4-5 iron and then a 7-8 in, or a hybrid followed by a wedge. Short / medium hitters can hit a driver leaving them a short club in and a birdie chance. Real big boys can have a go at it but it is troublesome. The right hand side has been opened up, but anything longer than about 230 down the right can go straight into the water. Two pot bunkers on the left replace a ‘M’ shaped bunker and then three greenside pot bunkers protect a pretty flat green. Plot your way down here for a decent birdie chance or simple par and move on.
Hole 16. Short simple 115 yards to middle from the yellows, but the whites add a different dimension. Cross the footpath and stream and tee up at about 150 from the middle of the green. The rife crosses at about 120 ready to catch any fat or short shots and then bunkers right, left and almost all the way across the back catch anything not hitting the green. Hit a solid shot here cross the stream and the rife and try and make a birdie on this pretty flat green. If the flag is right don’t get to drawn in as the bunkers will get you, but your birdie putt will be tough unless you are pretty close. Towards the end of your round a 3 here is fine, a chance should come up 17.
Hole 17. Just over 500 yards down wind this can be got in two for the longer players. Into the wind, just accept its a three shotter and get your big stick out and first of all find the fairway. There are hillocks about 100 from the tee catching any topped tee shots and causing you real trouble. A few hollows down the right along with 2 well placed bushes can catch the short / medium and long drives if they go right. The left hand side is rough and contains some heather. Avoid the fairway bunker with the second shot and play the ball to somewhere around 100 yards from the green. Pitch on from there and hope you make 4, or a simple 2 putt 5. If you have boomed one, you have a decision to make, go at it and risk pushing the ball into the hazard on the right or pull it and find one of 3 bunkers left of the green. Laying up to 100 is the shot here most of the time.
Hole 18. A cracker to finish, a decent drive makes this far nicer. A horrible bunker short and right will take your par chance away and anything left will be a struggle to find. Keep it straight and then for your second avoid the two large / deep bunkers either side of the green. A watching gallery or a selection of players on the first tee and putting green can get in your head here. But drop your second shot on the green and walk with your head held high to the undulating long green. Two putts is often the norm here, three putts are not uncommon if you’ve hit the wrong portion of the green with your approach.
Reflect on your round with a nice drink in the clubhouse afterwards. Dont think too much about what you are going to do from those positions next time you play. Because when you arrive at Littlehampton for your next round you can guarantee the wind will make everything different. Play it a hundred times and you may get 5 rounds without the wind.
Why not come visit Littlehampton – we’d love you to!!