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: 65
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Tom Sleater
RCPGC is a fab course to test yourself on. The holes are varied and the greens wonderfully quick and testing. The terrain means that there is often not a flat lie and you really have to tune in to score well - and you can really get caught out here if you are not on your game. Warm your putter up, play sensibly out of the bunkers and score heavily on the front to make sure that when you turn you have a fighting chance. Loved the 14th and 16th particularly. All in all a great days golfing to be had and a wonderful clubhouse to go with it...cannot wait till my next visit in March.
December 14, 2009
10 / 10
Royal Cinque Ports
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Kevan Voce
This is a great neck of the wood for golf. Very few corporate types around and three terrific courses - St Georges is the best but this pushes it. The greens are really challenging with great testing runoff areas. We played with our county captain who plays off +1 and even his chipping was found wanting. Very bleak place but a traditionalist's delight. Shame about the wall blocking views of the sea though. Best hole - short 4th. Low point losing to a guy off 1 who prefers The Brabazon. Highlight of the day - seeing some Terry-Thomas lookalike getting into his DB5 convertible with racing goggles on!
October 13, 2009
10 / 10
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Lennie Scarrett
October 13, 2009
I understand the 'purists' liking these sort of quirky courses where one minute your hitting a 9 iron 200 yards and the next you are having to hit a driver to a 150 yard par 3, but much prefer places like The Brabazon, Celtic Manor, Vale of Glamorgan and the like. Guaranteed a well stocked Pro Shop / Golf Superstore, proper yardages on the fairways, holding greens and you can wear all the proper Poulter clobber without the locals turning their noses up! 4 Ryder Cups at the Belfry says it all. Got a trip to The K Club planned to sample another Ryder Cup classic, only €250 for a taste of history and €20 for a pint of the black stuff should keep the riff raff out.
stephen voce
October 15, 2009
Totally agree!! I was at this course when the secretary turfed out a couple of "White Van Men" for not booking!Reminded me of the old days of "Rabbit" up at Kirby Muxloe - marvellous!!
Mark Chaplin
October 16, 2009
I think the Belfry held 4 Ryder Cups due to cash and contracts rather than quality of golf
Mats
October 22, 2009
I´m a purist and I´m proud. I also prefer scotch over umbrella drinks.
dan h
October 25, 2009
Really enjoyed the course when I played it, very hard but great fun. They are definitely snooty - had to buy long socks to play in shorts but then had to eat lunch on the balcony. But this is a real golf course, not a "mudpile" (TM Old Tom Morris).
Cédric
Played Deal on a day when the wind was in the opposite direction of its prevailing direction, which I was told was a good way to set down a good score. And so it went… Despite playing into the wind, the front 9 was much easier. The back 9 didn’t cause troubles length wise, but the numerous semi blind tee shots can be a killer for the first timer like me. I ended up losing 3 balls after what I thought were perfect drives. It’s difficult to pick a signature hole there as all of them are strong but none of them is really top world class. Deal is definitely a big course and feels a big course straight on the first tee, despite not being as manicured as nearby RSG. Reminds me a little of Western Gailes. The greens are huge, undulating, fast and true. A real pleasure to put on. The very friendly staff in the Pro shop mentioned that they were next year putting some new tee boxes to lengthen the course. Is the Open thrill back into Deal’s board members?? Deal is highly recommended to all traditional links lovers. Cedric
June 02, 2009
8 / 10
Royal Cinque Ports
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Carl Tushingham
Was lucky to play here on a calm day, as I can imagine how tough it would be in windy conditions. This is a top links course with no weak holes so its hard to pick out the best, but the three par 5's are very special. The greens are fantastic, they run as true as you could hope for and that's in November!! Some massive undulations, that make you think about every putt. I thought this was a very test fair test of golf and the back 9 wasn't as hard as I had feared!! The only downside to my visit was a lack of course planners which made it interesting of the tee at times. It runs near neighbour Royal St George's close to being the best in the area.
November 04, 2008
10 / 10
Royal Cinque Ports
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Brian
I think I read once that Cinque Ports was possibly the world's best "ugly" golf course. I think I now understand. Played it last year and was unimpressed, seemed rather dreary and dull. Played it again recently and now regard it as a gem. True the sun was shining and I had a better day, but it is a course, much like the Old Course, that takes a few rounds to really see the quality. Doesn't get the same accolades as Sandwich, which I think is unfair - maybe not the grand canvas, but a harder course and among the most sophisticated greens in the world.
October 20, 2008
8 / 10
Royal Cinque Ports
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J Barber
Deal is a great course and in excellent condition. I'm not a big fan of the first couple of holes which play close to the road and public footpath, but after that there are some terrific holes, especially the famous back nine.
October 18, 2008
10 / 10
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Kem Westdyk
Having played links golf in Scotland I was looking forward to my first links experience in England. Must say that I was a tad dissapointed. This is a good but not a great course, if compared to Scottish gems like North Brewick, Machrihanish and the Machrie. The third to fifth holes at Deal are very good, but the rest are a bit bland, and although the finishing holes are as tough as everyone says, they are all a bit similar. All in all a good day out though! Kem Westdyk, South Africa
October 17, 2008
6 / 10
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mark w
I am lucky enough to be a memeber of this course but unlucky in that my work means i live in America. Its not that i don't like american but after family this course is the one thing i miss most about living away from England. The air is always so clean and crisp and the welcome warm. I would recommend it to anybody. Yes i am biased and i am happy to admit that but will be surprised if you go and don't enjoy it. The last 7 holes are the hardest 7 holes in a row i have ever played and yet still very very enjoyable regardless of the wind! The greens are in great condition, perfectly sculpted and a real test. You walk into the clubhouse at the end knowing it was a stern and yet fair test and whatever the score it is fun.
October 02, 2008
8 / 10
Royal Cinque Ports
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Richard Smith
I have wanted to play Deal for a long time and it was worth the wait. This is a championship quality links. The greens are very tricky and well designed, and the course offers up an infinite variety of challenges. The first hole is reminiscent of the first at the Old Course in St. Andrews, with a burn adjacent to the front to the green. We played the third as a 453 par 4, which was quite a challenge with a front pin and the steep slope in the front of the green. The 6th is a driveable par 4 for the the bold at heart, and 9, 10 and 11 are beautiful gentle dog-leg par 4's. The heart of the matter starts at 12, especially when you turn into the prevailing wind as we did. Par's are hard fought coming in, even on my favorite inward hole, the par 5 16th, which demanded an accurate drive and then an approach over a steep bank to a rolling green. This was great links golf. To top off the day the secretary kept the bar open late to allow us a pint after the round. Apparently there are plans to stretch Deal out to 7300 yards, and there is plenty of room to do this. Could an Open championship return after a 90 year absence? I believe a lengthened Deal would be worthy of consideration. This is a great course that any lover of links golf needs to play. Richard Smith, Knoxville, Tennessee
August 08, 2008
10 / 10
Royal Cinque Ports
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Stuart
Please tell me what the fuss is about Sandwich?? Played Royal St George's one day and Deal the next and Deal won by a country mile and that is not because I played better - actually played worse Stark and cheerless it may be, but my heavens what a course - long and brutal, but oh so interesting, epecially around the greens which leave the St George's green complexes in their dust. And to cap it off a far friendlier and more welcoming place that actually recognises the existance of women. Why is the Open not being played here???
June 27, 2008
10 / 10
Royal Cinque Ports
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David Dean
September 12, 2008
Couldn't agree more - played there last Friday in horizontal rain but as you say what a course especially around the greens - Royal St George's is tame by comparison - Deal is like a cross between St George's and Ballybunion in that it is more sculptured than St George's.