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: 69
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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
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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
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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
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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.
fryer
Played this great course last week greens are in fantastic condition running at about 11. Course was in fantastic shape, new bunkers are being added to make it the ultimate test. I recommend this highly and is definately worth a visit.
March 08, 2008
8 / 10
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I regularly play RCP and find it a challenging course, with long par 4's( the 3rd is brutal in a left to right wind with a blind second to a tough green) and good par 3's. The greens are normally in good condition, running true, but the pot bukers in the fairways make it hard to reach the green. The last seven holes are a challenge to good players, where you are looking to keep the score made on the front 9. The 6th hole is tough downwind if a short teeshot is made because of the elevation of the green(about 15ft). It is a short hole but good none the less. It is much tighter and more challenging off the backs than the neighbour Royal St George's, which has a lot of room and quite generous fairways. If RCP does get to hold the Open, and with a bit more yardage it will be a tough test even for the best in the world.
October 28, 2007
8 / 10
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Kirkus
I have played many links courses throughout the British Isles and I have to rate RCP in my top 3 after Kingsbarns and Royal Dornoch. The layout is exceptional and feels very natural, the holes are all pretty tough, but fair with cleverly positioned bunkers and the par 3s are all gems. I played it in May 2007 and the greens and tees were in excellent nick with the fairways being very typical hard links tracks. I would thoroughly recommend this course to any lover of links golf.
June 25, 2007
10 / 10
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Jim Hirsch
I am over in the UK on business. Since this was my first time here I was going to go play St Andrews or Kingsbarns but my schedule did not allow it. I was then going to play Royal Lytham St Annes or Royal St George's but could not get on either. I then saw and read about Royal Cinque Ports. The staff were very friendly and I ended up having a nice discussion with the assistant professional. The first few holes were rough and I didn't think much of the holes but something happened around about the 4th hole and all of the sudden I got it. I thouroughly enjoyed the rest of the round after I stopped trying to play American target golf and let the course dictate what shots I could play. The wind was blowing at about 40MPH and the back nine was brutal. My best hole was the par 3 14th playing 222 into the wind. I played the shot about 30 yards right of the green at the set of bunkers and let the wind bring it back with a hybrid. The ball hit the stick and I had a 20 foot putt for birdie. The greens looked furry but putted fast and true. The course was in great shape and was fast even though there had been rain lately. The clubhouse is nothing to write home about but your not playing this type of a course for its new bathrooms. Make the drive and go play Royal Cinque Ports. There is talk of the course getting The Open and I hope it does. There is plenty of room and if they need to they can add length through new tees.
May 19, 2007
8 / 10
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Andy
Returned here recently after about five years and although the weather was typical January, the changes to the course are really noticeable. I believe that they are into a five year plan to bring the course back to the links quality of days gone by. The new bunkers are starting to look really good and the best example is probably at the short 8th, where the green is now more or less surrounded by revetted bunkers - looks good. Love the 6th hole - pretty short but very hard...Nice people at RCP all doing their best to give a warm welcome to visitors (much needed in January).
January 25, 2007
8 / 10
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simon smith
Played this course the first weekend in sept and really liked it. As others have said it is a classic links course. Would recommend everyone playing it and rate it as 8/10. We paid £100 for a day ticket and played 2 rounds without any hassle in glorious sept weather. The course has been improved of late which is why we found it more enjoyable than others in the past. The course is preparing itself for hosting the 2008 Seniors open so it should be even better next year (i.e. 2007).No weak holes only good and very good holes. Would not hesitate to play it again. Enjoy !!
September 27, 2006
8 / 10
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