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5 miles N of Dover
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The Earl of Guildford donated the land for Prince’s to Sir Harry Mallaby-Deeley, who enlisted his friend Percy Montagu Lucas, honorary secretary at Cromer Golf Club, and 1902 Amateur Champion Charles Hutchings to set out the 18-hole course in 1904.
Lucas consulted three others during the construction of the links: Cecil Hutchinson and Mure Fergusson, both Scottish International players and Herbert Fowler, architect of the two excellent golfing layouts at Walton Heath.
The course was officially opened on 8th June 1907 by A. J. Balfour, the first Captain of the new club (who had been Prime Minister from 1902 to 1905) and he played the first shot in the inaugural Founder’s Gold Vase competition.
It wasn’t long before news of the new course spread throughout London, in the City and Parliament, and it was soon attracting societies such as the Bar Association, the Old Etonians’ Club and the Oxford and Cambridge University teams.
Unfortunately, the links was closed for the duration of World War I because it was used by a detachment of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as a coastal defence area and training ground.
It didn’t take long for the links to recover after the Great War and the Ladies’ Open was held at Prince’s in 1922, followed a decade later by the Open, which Gene Sarazen won by the impressive margin of five strokes, having led after each of the four rounds.
The course was used by the military again during World War II and it took until the late 1940s before Sir Aynsley Bridgland financed the restoration of the property, commissioning Sir Guy Campbell and John Morrison to redesign the layout.
When the links was finally re-opened in April of 1952, it was brought back into use as a 27-hole facility, featuring an 18-hole Championship Blue course and a Red 9-hole layout, with most of the original greens incorporated into the new design.
The modern day Himalayas holes 1 to 9 equate to holes 5 to 13 on the Blue. Compared to the course used for the Open in 1932, five of those original holes (7 to 11) played to greens on or close to today’s 1st, 8th, 3rd, 4th and 9th on the Himalayas.
Despite the high ranking of the Shore & Dunes, the Himalayas is a favourite circuit for many members because they can play a swift round on the shortest of the three nines, even though this loop contains the longest par five on the property at the 580-yard 6th, the hole lying closest to the coastline.
In a nod to old-fashioned course design, the 4th and 8th holes also share a double green. The final tee shot at the 9th is played towards a semi-blind fairway which leads to a home green that’s protected to the front left hand side by the famous Sarazen bunker.
In the summer of 2017, Prince’s announced the redevelopment of the Himalayas nine by architect Martin Ebert. The works included combining the current 2nd and 3rd holes to make a long par five, with a new 2nd tee located to the right of the existing 1st first fairway. A short par three 5th hole was then inserted, playing towards the sea after the existing 5th (new 4th) hole. The current 8th hole has become a short, drivable par four with permanent wetlands laid out on either side of the fairway. The the new holes opened in May 2018.
Over the last few years the Himalayas nine has had a major redevelopment and the results are superb. It has transformed what was viewed as the 'loop round the back' to one that holds its own with the other two. It is still my third favourite of the three nines but the gap is much closer than it was the last time I visited in 2013 and in truth that speaks more about how highly I rate the Shore and Dunes.
From the centre-line bunker at the first, to the new short par-three fifth, to the untouched 7th, to the driveable 8th, to the drive over the Himalayas on the 9th the list goes on and on of the highlights on this reimagined nine. The club, under the watchful eye of Mackenzie & Ebert, have created many sandy waste areas which not only help pace of play but give the golfer a variety of recovery shots should they find the scrubland. There are wetland areas to contend with too.
One of the constants at Prince's is the quality of turf around the greens, many of which are raised and have swales and hollows around them that sweep your ball away. The grass is exceptionally tight and mowed out a pleasingly long way which makes chipping (or in many cases putting) a real adventure and extremely fun. The number of options on how to play recovery shots around the greens is a real highlight at Prince's.
The long drive to the club, along the seemingly endless coastal road, is something that fills you with anticipation as you arrive and one that has a tinge of sadness when you depart, albeit with some fantastic memories and the knowledge that you simply must return one day.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Having played the renowned Shore & Dunes combo a few years ago, I was keen to return to play the Himalayas since its inclusion in the 2019 renewal of England’s Top 100. I had been a big fan of Shore & Dunes, so I was intrigued to see how the Himalayas compared and the justification of it’s inclusion as a 9 hole layout.
The fact that the Himalayas sits some 50 spots below its famous siblings led me to believe that it would be the poorer of the three 9 hole layouts, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Prince’s have done a great job at creating three excellent courses, that compliment each other, whilst each having their own unique characteristics. The Himalayas feels like a step back in time. It’s well maintained where it should be, but rough and rustic round the edges. Wetlands offer plenty of danger (especially when the wind is up) and most holes have natural bunkers set into the dunes that look as though they have been there since the dawn of time. Add to that a wooden propeller to represent a spitfire crash on the 3rd fairway and a naval battle set at “Bloody Point” in AD851, you feel as though you are playing golf through the ages.
After a strong opening hole, the course is filled with a variety of challenges. From long Par 5s to reachable risk/reward Par 4s. All the Par 3s are also excellent here, but the standout is the Par 3 5th playing out to sea. Completely wind exposed, short and tactical. Everything you could wish for from a Linksland one shotter. I also loved the 9th to finish. A drive from an elevated tee box, with a greensite defended by pot bunkers and the ominous Sarazen Bunker, makes for an excellent crescendo.
Finally it would be remiss of me not to mention the welcome and the hospitality we received at Prince’s. The staff could not have been more friendly and welcoming if they tried. They are clearly proud of their courses and made our stay one to remember and we would be heading back at the end of the summer for more. 27 holes at Prince’s really is a fantastic day out.
For all photos of reviews, please follow Chris’ Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/top.100.golf/
I had played here a number of times pre-refurb, and I found the Himalayas to be a little under-rated. Although definitely the weaker of the three loops at Prince's, it had some clear highlights which were worthy of a top 100 course.
Fast forward to 2019, and I was pleased to discover that all the highlights had been retained and even enhanced post-refurb. The double green at 3/8 is still fun. The looong par 5 6th hole has been enhanced by a water hazard down the right side. The demanding par 3 7th to an elevated green with run offs is still bunkerless, but cosmetic changes to the dead ground between the tee and the green make this much more attractive.
The best thing about the renovation has been the strengthening of the weaker holes. A few pot bunkers in the fairway has made the 1st so much more interesting, the new short par 3 5th tests control not power, and plays at right angles to the other holes in the loop so introduces a different perspective. The 8th is now more of a risk / reward hole - potentially it is easier but it will tempt many into making errors (me included).
The Himalayas feels much more strategic than previously, and visually it's more attractive. It probably needs a few years for all the changes to bed in, but Prince's as a whole seems to be moving in the right direction. It's difficult to rate Prince's now, because arguably all three loops are of an equivalent standard so there is no premier combination. Covid scuppered plans to play here in 2020, I'm looking forward to returning in 2021!
Apparently, a "bloody and vicious" battle took place in 851 on what is now Prince's Golf Club's links. Well, 1,169 years later a rather friendlier fight was won by the elements and, thankfully, no red stuff was spilt.
Prince's wears its history proudly on its sleeve - the entrance to its modern clubhouse tell tales of past heroes while plaques on the course reveal stories of amazing fighter pilot courage, the aforementioned skirmish and the wonders performed in a bunker by Gene Sarazen in the 1932 Open.
Nowadays, the top tournaments are played at its esteemed neighbour, Royal St George's, but, as I can testify, Prince's - and Himalayas in particular - are a very stern test indeed.
I played in a competition which linked the nine holes with The Shore rather than The Dunes, the third nine on this 27-hole complex.
But, as those two nines are listed elsewhere in England's top 100 list, I shall relate only how my round succumbed to the fierce wind and driving rain of the beautiful but treacherous Himalayas.
From the beginning, it demands accuracy and driving strength. There is a significant carry on almost every hole and strategic bunkers which are deep enough to be card-wreckers.
The first two holes lull players into wondering how this nine-hole track developed is tough reputation.
Frankly, neither is especially long and decent tee shots can lead to comfortable pars. However, a turn into the prevailing wind for the third changed any notion of an easy day out.
I did manage a birdie on the short fifth by blasting my tee shot way out to the right and allowing the wind to blow the ball back so far that I was only just outside the nearest the pin winner.
Then came the trauma of the par-five sixth, straight into the ever-strengthening driving wind and rain. Suffice to say i failed to score despite Herculean efforts.
Such were the conditions that I required a driver for the 192-year seventh - described by Tony Jacklin as the best par three without a bunker.
I didn't quite reach it but managed a four - the best of our group which included a six-handicapper who found himself trapped at the right side of the green and found it impossible to lift his ball onto the plateaued green without it rolling back to his feet.
The eight is with the wind but please be more circumspect than I was in driving over the water hazard. Yep - I found it.
The ninth - Sarazen's famous hole- was actually more doable than I expected given its reputation - I surprisingly reached the par-four in three.
Himalayas was a chastening experience which continued on The Shore. However, I want to go back and see its beauty in the sunlight and be able to admire views which were very restricted on the day when we battled against it and lost comprehensively.
After playing the shore and the dunes I was left slightly saddened that I wasn't able to also play the Himalayas as I'd heard a lot of great things about it's renovation and the 9 itself being the funnest of the 3. I was determined to play it and during a heat spell I thought it would be a great time to venture back and play the himalayas which turned out to be a great decision.
The par 3s are absolutely fantastic with the 5th being the clear standout hole. A lovely par 3 playing over the wastelands and out towards the sea, a real test of a golf hole when the wind is up. The layout at princes is absolutely superb, the course was in great condition when we played and the place is awesome and extremely friendly. Would highly recommend having a knock round the Himalayas and a 27 hole day there would be nothing short of a great day.
I have been to Princes a number of times, normally in the middle of a wet winter when my local courses are unplayable and the links land offers a welcome change. Until now I’ve played Shores and Dunes each time. The people at Princes are always welcoming and friendly and the course is fantastic.
This time I came back in the summer and played the Dunes & Himalayas. What a 9 holes! It has everything from sea views to moments of history with the Spitfire crash landing and the viking naval battle.
Many of the tee shots are tight and will make you think. You definitely don’t want to follow Laddie Lucas & his Spitfire by missing the fairways. The two par 3s are excellent, the long 7th playing straight into the wind on the day and the 5th being well protected and no less difficult to hit despite being only 135 yards. The risk reward 8th is a lot tighter off the tee than it looks (be warned!) and the 9th played really tough back into the wind to finish. A great par 4.
The rave reviews are here for a reason. This is a fantastic 9 holes.
A great challenge that compliments the other two tracks. Really worth a weekend a way to play a few rounds on these 3 loops of 9.
I remember playing the Himalayas nine in previous years and finding it an uncomfortable hybrid of a course that transitioned between links and woodland, one that perhaps struggled to find a true identity. But now, and I hold my hands up at maybe being a little late to the party here, under the careful guidance of Martin Ebert, the Himalayas nine has been completely transformed. Standing alone on this website as a nine hole course, I had questioned the rationale behind a nine holer sneaking its way into the England Top 100 at the latest rankings’ revision, but having now seen the course for myself, it’s a decision that I’d support.
A huge amount of trees have been removed to return this nine back to its links characteristics whilst raggidy waste bunkering with rustic style, torn edges are introduced throughout. And aside from the tree removal and sand scrapes, two of the holes are completely new. The old par four 2nd and par three 3rd holes have been adjoined and converted into one long par five, stretching to over 600 yards from the tips. The isolated tree to aim at on the corner of the fairway adds a nice little visual touch too and something to aim at for your drive. The rest of the course is funky, and I mean that as a positive for it’s full of interest and quirk which ticks my boxes. The shared green across 3 and 8 is a feature that I’d like to see more used in links golf, for it’s a lovely nod back to the home of this glorious game. The Sarazen bunker still stands as a prominent feature on the last hole with its shored-up bunker face, and through careful landscaping, the sea has been now been brought into view on some of the holes too, something that had previously been missing from the course. But it’s the new 5th, ‘Bloody Point’ that is the hole that grabs the headlines for me and I make no apologies in upping the hype around this hole. Converted from what was previously flat waste grasslands, they’ve created one of the finest short holes in the UK links golf. This hole is now a triumph, protected by a solitary revetted bunker on the front left, with a raised green sitting behind a large waste area to the side of the tee, the fall-offs from this green are treacherous. The wind was subdued when I played it, but it must be a hole that causes all sorts of havoc in a strong cross-wind.
I’m quite the admirer of the work that’s been done on the Himalayas nine. It’s now a unique links that holds a character of its own, and with the large wetland areas is quite distinctive from most typical links layouts. I could even argue that this nine is marginally more interesting and diverse than the Shore nine, albeit the Shore remains probably the more pure and traditional links experience. 27 holes combined with a stay in the Lodge would be a great day away so if you’re a first time visitor to Prince’s, don’t skip the Himalayas or you’ll be left wondering about that nine hole stretch that you missed.
The Himalayas is a nice and quirky 9 holes that shouldn't be missed if you're playing at Princes. There are some really good holes, and a cool story of a war pilot landing his plane on the 4th fairway.
Not sure it's deserving of a place in England's top 100, but worth playing whilst you're there.
As a well traveled golfer & having played 90% of Open venues I find Princes to be the most welcoming & accessible of all.
A recent addition to the Princes experience is the reimagined Himalayas course. I must comment that this is a pure test of golf, offering everything from drivable Par 4’s & challenging Par 5’s, to picturesque Par 3’s. A real gem which will only get better with time & tide.
I would also recommend staying at The Lodge onsite, menu is exquisite (this also allows you more time to enjoy the 27 holes available to play. 4 balls - no problem, on a links course!?!).