I played Royal St. Georges on the 22nd April with my father, despite being a serious golfer for several years this was my first real test on a bona fide links course and I was extremely excited about testing my skills against an Open Championship course and the variety of shots I would need to play.
Firstly the weather was perfect, bright sunny day and merely a hint of a breeze, to be fair we played the course in very benign conditions so the challenge was nowhere near as demanding as it should have been as it’s my understanding the wind here can be fierce at times, not that I was complaining! The clubhouse is unassuming from the outside but once you walk in you get an immediate feel for the history of the club with gloriously high ceilinged rooms and walls etched with pictures, honours boards and memorabilia spanning the last hundred years and more. The locker rooms were surprisingly large with excellent changing facilities and the full English breakfast buffet was both plentiful and delicious.
The pro shop is suitably stocked and the range facilities are excellent as are the chipping and putting areas located just off the first tee. We were unable to play the course from the tips but this in no way lessened the challenge ahead, having not played the course before we were at times undecided about where our tee shots should be aimed. However, what is clear was that the course was playing completely differently to how it will do in The Open next year, for a start my tee shot went right on the first towards the place Tiger Woods lost his ball. The rough was very short so I found my ball first time (as I did many times after straying off the fairways) so I will be interested to see just how much more penal the rough will be next year for The Open as I don’t doubt I would have lost several balls during my round otherwise.
The greens had just been seeded and hollow tined so they weren’t playing at their best and were a little bumpy, we weren’t complaining as they were still relatively firm and true and the undulations on some greens made 2 putts extremely difficult. The overall conditioning of the course was excellent and the par 4 4th over ‘Hells Bunker’ is a lovely hole with hugely undulating fairways which looked amazing.
One thing that struck me was how fantastic all the par 3’s were, I loved all of them and the bunkering on each of them (no bunkers on par 3 3rd to be fair) was brilliant and really made you think about where to place your tee shot, I don’t think I have enjoyed playing par 3’s as much anywhere else.
This is definitely a drivers course though and it pays be to relatively straight although as mentioned earlier the rough wasn’t anywhere near as penal as it would be for The Open, you also need to be pretty handy with your long irons too. I loved RSG and there are so many holes I remember fondly, the welcome from the starter and pro shop was lovely and we pretty much had the course to ourselves too so we played at a pleasurable pace and we’re able to really take it all in. We have vowed to go back next year after The Open to play the course at it’s peak (along with hundreds of other people no doubt!) but also because we simply loved the place and it has given me a real enthusiasm to go and play as many links courses as I can now over the next few years.
RSG deserves its place in the top echelon of courses in this country, any serious golfer will appreciate the blind shots, the sometimes unfair bounces on the fairways, the deep faced bunkers and the undulating greens – it’s a proper test and one I can’t wait to repeat! I just wish I didn’t hit driver on the 18th as I ended up in the fairway cross bunkers 300 yards away and my Dad laid up and managed to halve our match, not that I am bitter of course!
Date: April 26, 2010