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. Donald Steel was engaged in an advisory capacity at Royal Cinque Ports. His company is renowned for making sympathetic changes to traditional links courses. But it was Master Greenkeeper and course consultant Gordon Irvine, who appeared on the award-winning BBC programme Coast, who spearheaded the recent transformation of Deal, returning the course once more to a world-class championship links.

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: 8.7 out of 10 Reviews: 68
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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
Royal Cinque Ports
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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
Royal Cinque Ports
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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
Royal Cinque Ports
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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
Royal Cinque Ports
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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
Royal Cinque Ports
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paul
Had wanted to play this for a while and managed to get there in Aug 10 via a scratch 'open competition' which got me 36 holes golf off the back tees for only £50 - what a bargain !! but more importantly what an experience !! if there's any weaknesses in your game that you can cover up elsewhere on other courses - RCP's will find it out. the greens are brutal, hitting the greens in regulation on this course by no means guarantee you a par/ or even a bogey, and there are some putts that you could look at all day and still never be quite sure what line to set it off at. the wind direction was more favourable than usual with the 'brutal back nine' playing cross wind rather than straight into it. its the closest i've been to what i can imagine proper links courses/and golf to be like without playing one of the prized 'open venue' courses. the bunkers and rough are a card wrecker with the x2 fairway bunkers i visited resulting in shots out sideways as the only means of getting out - accuracy is the key here, go off track and your score card won't make nice reading, don't be fooled by the gentle starting holes - it gets harder the further you go ... its a course i'd like to play a few times a year, but at over £100 a round in peak season it does feel a little over-priced - its better than Prince's and Littlestone though so in terms of price its probably where it should be considering what they also charge..
March 30, 2011
10 / 10
Royal Cinque Ports
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Smythp
I missed out on playing here a couple of years ago due to lightning so I’ve been eagerly awaiting a chance to get back. And I have to say that the wait has been worth it. What a gem of a course and IMHO it is the best links course in the south-east (not that there are many). I played Royal St George's on a previous trip but never got to like it that much but I fell in love with RCPGC very quickly. This is raw golf as it was meant to be played. The club is over 100 years old and everything about the place reeks of history. Yes you can get some unappetising lies on the fairway but that’s how the course was designed. The fairway undulations, the penalising bunkers that can scoop up rolling balls, the fast greens and the occasional blind shot are all the things that make this place a gem. Little seems to have changed here over the last 100 years. This course will test all your shots and more, particularly if the wind is blowing. This is a great place to take visitors to give them a real sense of the origins of golf. Most new courses these days are manicured to within an inch of their lives but RCPGC has stood the test of time and still knocks spots off the modern courses.
August 24, 2010
10 / 10
Royal Cinque Ports
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Ben McDonald
I played this course back in August 2008 and have to say that this rates up there in my top 5 courses in the UK. 2 days prior we played at Royal St George's and Deal is a far better course in my opinion. Yes it could be longer if it wants to again host The Open but that doesn't detract from what is a fantastic links course. If holes 1 and 2 are a little tame then the 3rd played as a par 4 is pure design genius. A long tee shot required followed by a long iron to a sunken green where you can only hope you have made the putting surface. As most other reviews have stated its a brute from the 12th onwards (18 being a weak finish in comparison to the likes of 16 and 17) however I found the front 9 to be full of character and tough around the greens. We played 36 holes in the day and although I didn't quite play to my H Cap I felt I was 2 or 3 under due to the experience. Clubhouse was great, staff friendly and when I am back in the UK this summer will try and get another 18 down there. For those who have not payed Deal or Royal St Georges I recommend Deal. Cheaper, more friendly and a better layout. Enjoy
July 05, 2010
10 / 10
Royal Cinque Ports
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paulmardon
What links golf should be! Wind, hard running fairways, punishing rough, natural hard undulatinging greens (non of this USPGA standard greens), bunkers that cost you a shot need I go on; just perfect! Oh and the Clubhouse is to die for, nothing fancy just tradition, great views and wonderful panneled winners boards. This is a great golfing experience. There is only one negitive comment I would make and that is the green fee; £110 a round/£140 a day! That is to say it is not worth it when you look at other courses of such quality are charging the same, if not more, but hey guys (and that is to all courses who charge over £100 per day/round) us golfers who want to visit you just do not have the spare money at the moment; I and others are cutting our cloth so why can you not give us some slack.
July 02, 2010
8 / 10
Royal Cinque Ports
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Jon Wilkinson
We played Deal recently in a force 6 - 7 Northerly, so I have a wry smile at the many comments on the 'ease' of the front nine. In this wind the homeward holes could be reached with a short to mid iron, but the outward holes were brutal. I hadn't played here for 40 years, but it has changed little, a true test of all aspects of the game, quirky but very fair. The pro shop and clubhouse staff were very friendly, and I think only someone with a major chip on their shoulder would find the club stuffy.I do have to say that the fairways and greens were not in great condition, maybe due to lack of rain.Deal should be on any keen golfer's 'must play' list.
June 18, 2010
10 / 10
Royal Cinque Ports
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