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
TaylorMade
W
This is a truly first class links and should certainly be ranked higher on any list. The course has a tremendous history of Open Championships and Amateur Championships and its fearsome reputation is well deserved. The front 9 isn't excessively long and it is here that you must try and make your score. My favourites were the 3rd and the 6th which at 325 yards is a hole that proves that length isn't everything! From the 12th the stakes are raised and the homeward stretch is absolutely brutal though great too!! 7 holes measuring almost 3000 yards and with a par 28, generally played straight into the wind. Let's hope your first 11 were good, cause now you have to try and hold a score together as you plot your way over some wonderfully undulating linksland and across some absolutely superb rolling greens with some terrific borrows. This is links golf of the highest calibre and the 15th, 16th and 17th wouldn't look out of place on any of the courses of the current Open Championship rota.Top class championship links golf at a reasonable price. Wonderful!
August 27, 2006
8 / 10
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mark
New tees and refurbishment of Deal's bunkers have really improved this great course. Tough but honest the club are really improving the condition of the course and but for a strange GM rating in the 100's, Deal should surely be higher in these ratings. Well worth a visit especially on a County Card making a great value day out.
March 17, 2006
8 / 10
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Carl Statham
I played this course back in the autumn and it is a great place to visit with lots of history. Although I must say when you arrive and stare out from the upstairs lounge it looks pretty un-inspiring. However after the first, a good hole in it's own right, things get more exciting. In effect the course is hour glass in shape and the bit in the middle is quite dramatic with fairways and greens draped over the dunes. It is also true as every says that the last six holes are a real challenge even with no breeze. (We followed a tip from a member and exited the course to have lunch in the local pub and it is very very good with some great fish dishes). There is a temptation to compare this with the other royal in Sandwich, however I think it is wrong to do that as they are subtely completly different courses. A really pleasant day out I'd recommend a trip down from the big smoke any day.
February 02, 2006
8 / 10
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Leighton Maurice
What a great experience at RCP, friendly people and a fabulous golf course with a brutal last six holes back to the clubhouse. Played dozens of the great links courses across the British Isles and this is in my top 5 for sheer condition and enjoyment.
January 23, 2006
8 / 10
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mark chaplin
Wow, links golf as it should be played. If you want towering dunes and scenic beauty forget Deal, however those students of links golf who thrive on tight lies, rolling fairways, deep rivetted bunkers and quick true greens will have a day to remember. This classic venue is true to the original values of the game, don't miss the experience.
August 26, 2005
8 / 10
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oneildunne
It may be tough, in fact when the wind is blowing, you will not find a harder back nine anywhere this side of Scotland. What lets it down is the condition, it can sometimes resemble a public course and it generally looks unloved. I must say that the new tees have done wonders to several of the holes but it needs something more if it is either going to get an Open or catch up with its more famous neighbour.
November 05, 2004
4 / 10
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Peter Lacey
What a fantastic golf course. Played at the Royal Cinque Ports in the first week of October this year and what a delight it was. Greens were in great shape and the overall condition was good. Fantastic elevated tee positions ensure great views towards the undulating fairway landing areas. With a little TLC this course could in my opinion host an "Open". Much more interesting that its near neighbour Royal St George's.
October 25, 2004
4 / 10
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Mark Jeffery
Playing on a bright and breezy day off the back-tees this course provided everything that you'd expect from a classic British links golf course, without maybe some of the aesthetic charm of some others that I have played. The back nine is a real test with a number of 400yd+ par-4's all playing into the prevailing wind. The course has serious rolling fairways and wonderful greens, however I was also somewhat disappointed that in a number of places the grass was patchy around tees and in certain places on the fairways. All in all a great fun though!
September 03, 2004
6 / 10
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Billy
Played it on a calm summer's day and first impressions are that RCP is stark and cheerless. Goodness only knows what this course is like in the middle of winter...scarey I reckon. Without doubt it's a great links course - the design is masterful...bunker placement cruel. The greens and the approaches to the greens are alarmingly undulating...dozens of elephants have surely been buried here. My only critisism is the condition...some of the fairways and tees were scabby on our visit, despite the fact that we've just had one of best grass growing summers ever.
August 31, 2004
6 / 10
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