Royal Cinque Ports - Kent - England

Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club,
Golf Road,
Deal,
Kent,
CT14 6RF,
England


  • +44 (0)1304 374007

  • Golf Club Website

  • 5 miles S of Sandwich

  • Contact in advance – Not Wed am or at weekend

Royal Cinque Ports was the third English course after Royal St George’s and Royal Liverpool to host the Open Championship but only Royal Portrush and Prince’s have hosted fewer Opens.

Date Winner Country
1909 John H.Taylor England
1920 George Duncan Scotland

Royal Cinque Ports, or Deal as it is more commonly known, was founded in February 1892. Henry Hunter, Deal’s first green keeper was appointed shortly afterwards and three months later, a nine-hole course was ready for play. A second nine was soon added.

The First and Second World Wars did their level best to obliterate the links, but James Braid restored the course and it reopened in 1919. Sir Guy Campbell later performed a similar role and once again, in 1946, the course reopened.

Deal is an absolute brute of a links course. Its back nine, or rather the last seven holes, are relentless, invariably playing directly into the teeth of the prevailing south westerly wind. The layout is stark and cheerless – only the sandhills and wild dune grasses provide this narrow out-and-back layout with any real definition. You can expect tight and hanging lies from the fairways, making stances awkward. Let’s make no bones about it – this is a tough course. Make your score on the front nine, otherwise Deal can make even the very best golfers look like weekend duffers.

In 1909, J. H. Taylor – one of the Great Triumvirate – proudly won the first Open ever played at Royal Cinque Ports. The Open returned to Deal in 1920 and made Walter Hagen look decidedly useless. In the lead-up to the Open, Hagen had boasted that he was unbeatable. He eventually ended up in 55th place! The real story behind the 1920 Open focused on two Brits, Abe Mitchell and George Duncan. It’s a story that is beautifully documented by Bernard Darwin in his book Golf Between Two Wars.

In those days, the Open was played over two days with 36 holes played each day. After the first day, Mitchell had a six shot lead over his closest pursuer; Duncan was even further adrift, a massive 13 strokes behind. The first round of the final day saw Duncan card a 71 while Mitchell could only manage an 84. Darwin wrote: “His lead had vanished like a puff of smoke”. In the final afternoon round, Duncan consolidated his 71 with a 72, Mitchell could only manage a 76. Darwin’s moral of this story is “that the man to back on the last day of a championship is he who gets his blow in first”.

1920 was the last Open to be held at Deal, despite the fact that it was planned to return in 1949, but sadly the sea breached its defences and flooded the course forcing the 1949 Open to be played at Royal St George's.

We’ll let Darwin close this passage: “Golf at Deal is very good indeed – fine, straight-ahead, long hitting golf wherein the fives are likely to be many and the fours few”.

Let’s fast-forward one hundred years… Golf at Deal is still very good indeed. In fact, the course is continuing to improve by dint of ongoing investment, hard work and Martin Ebert’s guidance. Even the critical golf course architecture cognoscenti agree.

One recent (2019) change can be savoured at the much-improved 16th which is now a par five with a split fairway. As a par four it was hard for the single digit golfer to approach this green with a long iron, and almost impossible to hold the green. Played as a three-shot hole, #16 now offers some respite when heading home into the prevailing wind.

For the latest course and turfgrass updates, visit Royal Cinque Ports greenkeeping blog.

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Reviews for Royal Cinque Ports

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Description: Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club, or Deal as it is somtimes called, is an absolute brute of a links course. Its back nine, or rather the last seven holes, are relentless... Rating: 8.8 out of 10 Reviews: 73
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Jim McCann

Described above in the RCP course article as “an absolute brute of a links course,” I can assure you that, in relation to its Royal neighbour next door, this course is a cuddly pussy cat in comparison. Not to say that it’s easy, because it’s not (especially considering it has a standard scratch score rating of one over par from the regular gents tees).

The landscape’s rather stark, slightly dominated by what looks to be a man-made shingle bank Royal Cinque Ports Golf Course - Photo by reviewerrunning the length of the course, presumably to keep the English Channel at bay on the other side.

I loved the old-fashioned routing, reminiscent of Western Gailes, with holes 2 to 11 running along the shoreline before turning for home at the 12th.

The green of the 6th hole sits behind a huge dune and it’s probably one of the tougher short par fours that you might ever play, even with the wind at your back.

On the closing stretch, the three slight doglegged holes at 13, 15 and 16 are more than capable of humbling the most accomplished golfer. I must mention the half way hut, manned by a couple of Artisan members when I played the course last week. What a great pit stop to make half way through a round, with staff more than willing to talk all things connected to golf with visitors.

The clubhouse was just as welcoming, though food service had ended when we finished our round in the early evening. I’d love to come back and play here again sometime, which is as good an endorsement as I can give to Royal Cinque Ports.

Jim McCann.

June 09, 2014
10 / 10
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David
The course was in fantastic condition when we played RCP! Greens rolled fantastically well and all in the course was great! Very glad I went to RCP as almost didn't. Had a very poor experience with the booking office but everything else was fantastic! The reception we had from the Pro Shop boys was brilliant, best stocked shop in the whole world I would say. After the round the bar staff were very helpful and great hosts and even told us about the history of the club! The food hit the spot. The clubhouse is still old style in places but at the same time modern in other areas which worked very well. Overall we left with a great feeling about a true links golf course! We'll worth a visit to the south east Coast for this under rated hidden gem. Would of been full marks if the booking process was easier and more pleasant!
June 01, 2014
8 / 10
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Mike
RCP is total underrate. I have played all British Open venues and from my point of view is the best one, design (real Link design 9 front and 9 back) the end is brutal, views from back tees 7th or 11th are really nice, maintenance professional , great greens, excelent bunkering, and the most important thing you feel like at home, friendly members, staff always helping you (Nieves,James,Laura...)...this course should rated in the top ten of Britain & Ireland....I was there during the amateur and really impressed about the organization and commitment of the members .....looking forward to come back soon....this course deserve much more that the current rate....
October 29, 2013
10 / 10
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Gustav
Had a marvellous experience at Deal in late April. Having played RSG many more times, RCP comes ever closer in terms of the whole experience, on and off course. As some reviewers remark, the price tag reflects that, but ranking does not, yet. Let's see what happens after the Amateur this year...
May 16, 2013
10 / 10
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Eddie Robinson
Played RCP in early November and really enjoyed it. The staff were very friendly, the greens in good condition and the closing 7 holes are extremely demanding but enjoyable classic links. I'm not in the habit of giving 6-ball reviews and RCP just missed out (unlike RSG where we played the next day). Don't get me wrong, it was good (some classic and enjoyable holes) but the overall feeling was lacking the wow factor - e.g the opening 2 holes were simply warm-up holes, and the views & surrounds were good but not spectacular (it was a shame that you play next to the sea but you don't see the sea due to the sea-defence!). In our opinion over-priced.
November 15, 2012
8 / 10
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paul
Played this course back in Summer 2010 in a 36 hole scracth comp - hoping to again this October. What a place. i think we benefited from a slightly different wind direction that day so the back nine played a little easier but can well imagine what a 'brute' that is into the wind - those hole yardages are relentless. Course was set up immaculate and from the back tees its a great challenge. the fairway bunkers really do cost you a shot, with me at least once having to come out sideways just to get out. The danger doesn't stop when you get to the greens either, the greens were faultless but very quick and quite possibly some of the most undulating links greens i've ever played on, if your puttings not on song you'll struggle on these greens with most of my group three putting at least a handful of times ... plus the occasional 4 putt !! Its not as 'pretty' as some links eg... Turnberry; but the desolete nature of the surroundings only add to the challenge and foreboding nature of the place ... the welcome was friendly enough as well especially in the pro shop and good practice facilties to warm up before you go out to battle with the elements. Well worth a trip, even if the green fee is a little expensive ...
October 08, 2012
10 / 10
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malcolm roberts
A real old fashioned links, undulating fairways and greens, rivetted bunkers and fierce rough a treat for those who love this style of golf. Last 6 holes into prevailing wind a real test, greens fast and difficult to read. Playing 2 balls thankfully means that the game does not take all day, many clubs could learn from this. Not cheap at £130 but great value for money. Pro shop and clubhouse staff very friendly, nice pint of Doombar and good choice of food. Do not miss a stop at the halfway house, great sausage rolls and mugs of tea. Leave them a ball marker from your own club for their collection. I put this place on a par with Brancaster, the highest praise that I could give it.
June 23, 2012
10 / 10
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John Norman
Deal is a truly spectacular golfing experience. Andrew and his staff at the pro-shop are incredibly welcoming and accomodating. The course is always in excellent condition and is a true test of links golf. Holes 2-10 play along the sea wall often with a prevailing wind. You turn for home on hole 11 and the last 8 can be brutal if the wind is blowing. 18 memorable golf holes that will challenge all standards of golfer. My favourite out of the Royal St George's, Princes, Cinque Ports trio. On return to the club, you are welcomed by the members and staff alike. You can opt for an informal sandwich or a full meal in the restaurant. An absolute gem that is well worth the trip and green fee to experience.
March 14, 2012
10 / 10
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James
I have just returned from the mens mid age open. The course was in superb condition and we played it in benign conditions, just a breeze. It was still very, very tough! there are many great holes and they are all punishingly bunkered. you can think that things are going quite well and then bleed shots by missing by fractions. A very nice course but not epic. Not worth £135 by any stretch. Not worth the double the price of last year £100 for the mens open either. Very poor off course facilities, arrogant members and no meal provided after 36 holes. After 10 hours on this brutal course it would not have been too much to ask. every other club manages it. The unctious pro staff pointed out that no short socks with shorts are allowed either.It was blisteringly hot today. Come on Cinque Ports! It's the 21st century now They are one of those clubs that are anachronistic fuddy duddys. It took the shine off the day for me and those I spoke to who had visited felt the same. As guests you get pretty shabby treatment. All the negative perceptions of Golf Clubs are alive and well here. What a pity.
August 05, 2011
8 / 10
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Response
HarryC
November 17, 2011
I think you happened to meet the only members who aren't extremely welcoming and pleasant-of which there are few. I have played here on several occasions and the staff were extremely grateful to have me.Once they let myself and a friend play despite my friend having a handicap which was technically too high to play there. Also, on my last visit, the pro let us return back out onto the golf course for free after finishing our round in 3 hours, we managed another 18 holes for free- i have never come across members such as the ones which you have mentioned, although i'm sure they are there- every course has them but from my personal experience i know that Deal has fewer than most.
chris
November 27, 2011
i was made aware of the long sock thing before we went, found all members very friendly, the course loved it well bunkerd and up to Carnoustie standard, tough finish into wind, greens well they're another game when you get to them.
simonc
November 29, 2011
What guff! Clearly his golf failed to stand the stern test of what is one of the greatest links courses in the country and that put him in an ill humour! In 10 years as a Public School member I have had nothing but unfailing courtesy from the staff in the club house, the hut and the pro shop - Andrew Reynolds' welcome is legendary. I have yet to meet a member who has not been most affable both on and off the course. Food is available at the usual times and when it is not, good grub is to be had at the Chequers and many charming hostelries in Deal. The RCPGC is first and foremost about Golf and its traditions and a thoroughly welcoming place.
Carl
May 17, 2012
This is silly. There are a few courses who want to keep their history this is one of them. Princes doesn't and is a wonderful place as well. I have never had anything but a great welcome there.
Mark Chaplin
September 29, 2012
36 holes, lunch and a chance to win prizes for £100. What more do you want??
James CB Lay
October 01, 2012
Well guys I posted this review a year ago and I guess it has caused a bit of a stir. Firstly, I came fourth in the mens open and played pretty well if memory serves me well. There were quite a few discussions in the clubhouse about this on that particualar day about that particular event. The course was in retrospect a fabulous challenge and I look forward to playing it again. I dont think that I emphasised how highly I rate this course enough but I did give it five balls, If you want to enter the mens open this year it is on Monday 15th October and I believe is less than £100 this year. I play in many mens opens and the attitude of many clubs is that the entry fee goes on the catering and the prizes and courtesy of the course is given for the day to the players. I remember at RCP being treated like I was lucky to be there and I should be grateful enough for that. It was like a members double medal with a few people from outside to spice it up a bit for them. I am sure all of the above responses are equally valid for their experiences. I like old clubhouses as much as the next golfer BTW. 
James CB Lay
October 01, 2012
Mark, Most courses give courtesy of the course to the players for the day, The entry goes on food and prizes. If they cant put on a mens open properly then why bother? I commented about that paricular event on that particular day, I am sure the rest of the time it is just splendid. The mens open this year is on Monday 15th October and is less than £100.I should emphasise I gave the course 5 balls, its a cracking course. You should play it if you think £130+ for 18 holes is good value.
mark c
December 17, 2013
James CB Lay - I'm a member so know exactly how the course plays.
Max Monroe
This is what Links golf should be, it's almost (maybe) more enjoyable than Royal St George's. Extremely difficult inward nine when the wind is up. The course is fair, it gives you a chance to recover from misses and to score well. Really good holes everywhere you look. Make RCP a must play.
July 24, 2011
8 / 10
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