The first is a formidable opener with fairway bunkers to initially avoid down the right but it is the green setting that makes this such an engaging starting hole.
It sits beyond a ridge that houses two deep bunkers with a further hazard eating into the putting surface short and right. The hole climbs from tee to green gradually and has a real air of quality about it.
The second doesn’t quite have the grandeur of the first but makes up for that with the options it presents from the tee; a gathering bunker at around 230 yards, in a shallow gully down the left side of the fairway, is the key to this hole. It can be skirted down the right on higher ground but only the purest of shots will achieve this and there is also a bunker to navigate there too. The shelf green sits on the hillside beneath dunes with a steep drop off to the right and a very deep bunker waiting for anything leaked to that side. And with this hole running alongside the shore it is prone to crosswinds too, making the challenge even harder.
There’s no way a course could maintain this high standard for the remainder of the round and Littlehampton inevitably doesn’t but there are enough holes throughout to make this a worthwhile visit, especially for those seeking links golf on the south coast, an area not rich in this style of golf. Indeed until you reach the delights of Kent you have only Hayling to the west and Rye to the east. Littlehampton, founded in 1889, sits nicely between these two classics and is not only the oldest golf club to be found in West Sussex but also the only true links.
The short holes are particularly enjoyable with the eighth being a standout. It’s nicely bunkered but has the most wonderful green complex with a multitude of fascinating pin locations. The greens and their surrounds in general are impressive at Littlehampton with subtlety being the watchword.
From the seventh tee one should take a brief moment to enjoy views across Climping beach, the harbour skyline and the famous South Downs away in the distance. It’s one of the few glimpses of the sea you get at this links course because for the most part it is hidden from sight by a large bank of dunes that run along the coastline.
Between the ninth and 14th you will face a series of good par fours that ask different questions and are varied in length. The short but taxing 11th also falls within this run of holes where the strength and direction of the wind will likely dictate the way they are played.
The course loses a little bit of its linksy feel between the 15th and 17th but these holes, located furthest away from the coast and more marshland in nature, still don’t disappoint and the round concludes in strong fashion with a fine finishing hole that asks the golfer how much of the dog-leg he wishes to bite off in order to set up a shorter approach to a lovely green.
On our visit in July 2014 Littlehampton produced fast running links golf and called for a variety of shots over its natural yet relatively flat and easy-walking terrain. The opening two holes were head and shoulders above any of the other three courses we played on the same trip, all of which feature in the top 100 rankings.
Following a 4:00am alarm call we’d already driven for more than six hours and covered over 350 road miles before boarding a ferry at Oban sailing to Lochboisdale.
The Halifax Golf Club, often better known as Ogden, is a course that divides opinion.