In the last edition of The Looker we published an article about how local tennis players had been locked out of the courts at Littlestone Warren Golf Club.
After the article was published, we were contacted by the Golf Club to explain the reasoning in greater details and also to expand about the future plans for the clubs.
The Looker reported that a petition with more than 200 signatures was handed in to Folkestone & Hythe District Council, stating that the Littlestone Warren club house and
adjacent tennis courts were an ‘Asset of Community Value’ .
When The Looker went to meet with Sarah Saunders the Sales and Marketing Manager at Littlestone Golf Club, she was keen to expand on the whole story rather than just the “sensational headline” she said, “The Littlestone Warren Golf Club is owned by Littlestone Golf Club Ltd and the tennis courts are available for use by the members of both Clubs in accordance with our articles and rules Until recently, the club had allowed non-members to use the facility on a pay as you play basis however, with the threat of an ACV, the clubs’ officials took professional advice in regard to the tennis courts and were thus advised to close them to all butthe golf club members in line with the rules of the club.
Sarah went on to explain, “Membership as a social or house membership is available to anyone who wants to apply.” She then went on to talk about the exciting plans the GolfClub has forthe future expansion of its facilities, explaining that until four years ago the club was losing money. But with the new leadership team that is in place working alongside the elected Membership committee, the club which was formed in 1888 is now rated in the top 100 courses in the country and has a waiting list for some of the membership categories.
Sarah explained that last year with the excellent weather, the club was able to operate almost to full capacity, but with the fear of a hosepipe ban the club needs to look at alternative ways to irrigate the courses and their famous immaculate greens. She said that at the height of the summer, the club was spending over £6,000 a month on
water bills alone. Not a sustainable option either financially of ecologically Working with a forward planning group within the membership, it was decided that to bring the club into the 21st century it was agreed that it needed a major investment to secure the future of both clubs. Sarah pointed out that although the Warren Club is a separate membership both the Warren and the renowned Championship Links are all part of the parent Club. And the practicalities of running two club houses within a few metres of each other was a major financial burden, that could result in both clubs suffering.
They teamed up with award winning local based architects’ Guy Holloway to come up with a practical and exciting vision for the new club house, which would join the two
memberships under one roof, not only making a huge saving on the running of two buildings but also giving both shared use of the facilities whilst regaining their own areas
within one building.
The club has worked alongside agencies including Natural England, The Environment Agency and officers of Folkestone & Hythe District Council, to ensure that the courses, of which the majority of the land has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest(sssi) not only meets planning expectation, but actually exceeds it.
Part of the clubs’ proposed planning application includes the construction of a large water reservoir to enable the greens and fairways to use the winter and spring rain fall and this feature would also be a major boost to the plentiful wildlife already on the courses.
With the course being so popular with societies using it for golfing holidays, part of the proposal would include a number of rentable ‘Dorma’type accommodation units
sleeping up to 12 people. Sarah explained, “The club already employs over 20 full time staff along with many in a part time position and with the new improved clubhouse and
dormy house, we would be offering more local employment.”
Many ofthe local residents have complaine in the past that when the club is busy, parking outside on the road has caused issues, with one resident (who asked us not to publish his name) saying, “Sometimes, St. Andrews Road is blocked with cars parked over driveways and on grass verges and having seen the plans, I am very much in
favour as the new facilities allows for more on-course parking.” The club explained that some people in the past thought of the club as being elitist and quite snobby, but when The Looker sat down for a coffee with some of the members, we found it to be far from it. As Sarah explained, “Many golf clubs have been tagged with this dated idea. However, at Littlestone we have a vast selection of members from working tradesmen and women through to Lords and Ladies, but everyone is treated the same. We want to
make the club a place where people can enjoy a fantastic challenging game of golf and then relax in a warm and friendly Clubhouse.”
Within the plans, the club hopes to build a large bar and restaurant and function suite, which would be made available for not onlymembers but local residents to use as well.
The future certainly does look bright for the club. In previous years the club has hosted the Open Qualifying rounds when the championship came to Royal St. Georges
and in 2020, Littlestone is hosting the R & A 2020 Junior Championship which sees 120 junior golfers from all over the world compete on the championship links. “ It is an
enormous privilege for Littlestone to be selected for this prestigious event and our selection is testament on how well the club is reviewed by golf’s governing bodies “
Sarah finished off by saying, “We are all incredibly proud about how we have turned the club around overthe last four years, with many people who travel to play here using
local guest houses and other accommodation. Not only are we keen to promote the district and support local business, but we want to offer our membership the best facility in the South East.