Royal St George's - Kent - England

Royal St George's Golf Club,
Sandwich,
Kent,
CT13 9PB,
England


  • +44 (0) 1304 613090


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Royal St George's

Royal St George’s was the first English course to host the Open Championship and is the fourth most used Open venue (host to 14 Opens) after St Andrews, Prestwick and Muirfield.

Date Winner Country
1894 John H.Taylor England
1899 Harry Vardon England
1904 Jack White Scotland
1911 Harry Vardon England
1922 Walter Hagen USA
1928 Walter Hagen USA
1934 Henry Cotton England
1938 Reg Whitcombe England
1949 Bobby Locke S Africa
1981 Bill Rogers USA
1985 Sandy Lyle Scotland
1993 Greg Norman Australia
2003 Ben Curtis USA
2011 Darren Clarke N Ireland
2020 TBC TBC

In 1885, Dr William Laidlaw Purves of Royal Wimbledon Golf Club, spotted from the vantage point of St Clement’s church a spectacular piece of undulating land with expansive sand dunes. Being a Scot and a keen scratch golfer, he decided that there was only one thing to do with this links land; create a golf course. In 1887, the course opened for play and was named 'St George’s' after the English patron saint.

"For a course that is still comparatively young," wrote Bernard Darwin in his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, "Sandwich has had more than its share of ups and downs. It was heralded with much blowing of trumpets and without undergoing any period of probation, burst full-fledged into fame."

After only seven years of play, in 1894, Sandwich hosted its first of fourteen Open Championships. This was the first Open to be played outside Scotland.

Royal patronage was granted in 1902 and the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) became club captain. Many celebrated people have been affiliated with the club; the great golf writer Bernard Darwin was president of Royal St George’s between 1952 and 1961.

The course is not a traditional out and back layout. In a similar style to Muirfield, each nine is broadly circular, a loose figure of eight. There is nothing artificial about Royal St George’s; there is a natural look and feel to the course that blends beautifully into the surroundings, with wild flowers, dune grasses and the sweet song of the lark. Commanding views over Pegwell Bay and the white cliffs of Dover ensure an engaging experience.

All the holes are very different and memorable, a true sign of a great golf course. Royal St George’s also has some unique features; thatched roof shelters, the red cross of St George on the flags, and that bunker on the 4th hole cut into a huge dune, the UK’s tallest and deepest bunker. If you can carry that famous bunker on this 470-yard par four, then you can enjoy the peace of the fairway beyond, called the 'Elysian Fields'.

The par three 6th is called the 'Maiden'. We’ll let Bernard Darwin explain why: “There stands the ‘Maiden’ steep, sandy and terrible, with her face scarred and seamed with black timbers, but alas! we no longer have to drive over her crown: we hardly do more than skirt the fringe of her garment.” 'Suez Canal' is the 14th, so called according to Darwin because; “many a second shot has found a watery grave”. The 15th is considered architecturally to be one of the most impressive in golf because the fairway bunkers are virtually symmetrical.

"After the strategic school of golf architecture started to dominate thinking in the early 20th century, it became fashionable to criticize Sandwich as a big hitter's paradise, with too many blind shots," wrote Tom Doak in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses. "After the First World War, some of the most famous holes were changed – the Maiden hole was re-oriented so one did not have to play up and over the famous dune, and greens like the 9th and 17th were moved from blind hollows to their present locations on grand plateaus, perhaps by Dr. MacKenzie himself."

In the mid 1970s, Frank Pennink was brought in to eliminate further blindness. Three new holes were built and tee changes were made to two other holes. Many, except for devout traditionalists, believe that these changes further improved the layout.

"Whatever petty criticisms have been leveled over the lack of visibility on some holes, or the need for good fortune to master its difficulties, Sandwich has the four prerequisites of great architecture, and it has them in spades," continues Tom Doak. "Challenging golf holes, beautifully crafted greens and bunkers, a character of its own, and stunning scenery."

Royal St George’s certainly represents one of the most difficult tests of golf, requiring courage, confidence and solid ball striking. Severely undulating fairways make good scoring very tough indeed. Often the tee shot will come to rest on an upslope or a down slope, then one needs to hit a long iron or fairway wood into the green from an uneven lie.

Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books, was a member here at Royal St George’s. The golf scenes from the film Goldfinger were filmed at Stoke Park, but Fleming called the course “Royal St Marks” in the film, no doubt inspired by his home club.

Sandwich is a classic links course, summed up nicely by Bernard Darwin: “My idea of heaven as is to be attained on an earthly links”. Darwin went on to become president of the club between 1952 and 1961.

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Reviews for Royal St George's

Average Reviewers Score:
Description: There's nothing artificial about Royal St George’s Golf Club; there's a natural look and feel to the course that blends beautifully into its historical Sandwich surroundings. Rating: 8.9 out of 10 Reviews: 89
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AJ
What. A. Brute. I had the fortune of playing this beast in the recent South East of England Links Championship (2014), open to top amateur male golfers. Needless to say we played off the Championship tees each day (3 of 4 competitive rounds plus a practice round, so 4 rounds total) and it was a total test. Reviews below tell their own story but briefly: - Front nine is superior, in amongst and over the top of the dunes it is spectacular, whereas the back side is generally flatter and more open, but no less testing. - It is LONG! 7200 yards, par 70, it is a very difficult golf course so bring your 'A' game or play off the front tees. - Some of the fairways and entrances to greens are severely undulating - deal with it. You have to be 99% perfect around here to score well so if you can't play to that standard, it's your fault not the course's! - The club, it's staff and it's members are all very hospitable as long as you arrive with respect and deference to their traditions and expectations - not a lot to ask really. This is perhaps the most difficult course I can remember playing (along with Carnasty) and to boot the final 18 holes were played in winds approaching 60mph. The professionals would have been called in but us wee amateurs had to brave it. It was mentally exhausting and really did feel like being in a scrap. That said, I have fond memories. The first is a bland opener but the rest of the front 9 are all spectacular, with the 4th and 8th being my favourite holes. 12 is a cracker and 14 a strong 5, played into a bitter wind this is a proper 3-shotter. 15 is tough and hard to find definition with 16, 17 and 18 providing the sternest of finishing tests. Enjoy your local ale (served in a RstG tankard!) because you will have earned it. In my view, Royal Cinque Ports is a more enjoyable golfing experience only because it at least offers some respite and a few more birdie opportunities but that is not to say it's a superior course, just different. RSG is brutally difficult - especially in the strong wind so if you see the flags merely fluttering, enjoy it while you can.
May 12, 2014
8 / 10
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sam
Having read the reviews from 2012 about how grumpy and unfriendly everyone was I was a bit dubious about my visit. As a +3 handicapper (semi-pro) I felt it would be a great challenge to go down with a few friends to be challenged. I was welcomed out of my car and made to feel spectacularly welcome immediately. I assumed this was just a face they put on as I was expecting an unfriendly steward to come and punch me or something similar, judging from earlier reviews however I was made to feel nothing but welcome. The course is spectacular, I played it twice in a day from the medal tees and then from the championship tees and the back tees make this a truly world class course, harder than almost all of the golf clubs I have played around the world. The greens were true the fairways a challenge and the mental challenge the holes offer was substantial my favourites were the 5th, the 9th and the 13th. These are all worthy to be the best holes on any course in the world. The reviews from earlier I have to say seem to be horribly inaccurate and should not put anyone of playing this truly great course. If you ever have the chances do not pass up the chance to revel in one of the greatest course in the UK and the world. I can truly only say good things about this golf club.Truly spectacular and a shame not all people appreciate the true brilliance of this club. A club the average person can only dream of being a member of.
February 04, 2014
10 / 10
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AJ
May 12, 2014
How can you be a 'semi-pro' golfer? You are either an amateur or you are a professional, the distinction is quite clear.
Colin Jones
I came to this delightful course expecting a round in the high nineties (even off 12) but I was pleasantly surprised at how playable it was. Admittedly there was little or no wind, which I suspect would make it more challenging. Instead I encountered a fair and delightful course which rewarded straight hitting and avoidance of bunkers. The greens are large and contain the usual subtle borrows you'd expect. The fairways are generous and well kept. It helps to play with someone who has been there before as there are a few blind shots. The key is avoiding the bunkers as they are monsterous and a backward play is often the only way out. I did not rip the course up but played the last five holes in level par and enjoyed a great day. The club house is steeped in the traditions you'd expect and it does not disappoint. Beautiful place and a delight to play.
September 24, 2013
10 / 10
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Mitch kalcheim
RSG is an excellent course. I like the uneven lies and the undulation. I must also say the final four holes are very strong but it is not the best in England. But quite likely a top 10 course in any country
May 09, 2013
10 / 10
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Alex Wilkinson
Royal St. George's is a luxurious dream for all golfers who wish to play links golf. The undulations in the fairways that meander onto a perfectly cut green. Every whole is a joy to behold that is enhanced by a wonderful view over the large dunes that is Royal St. George's.
May 08, 2013
10 / 10
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Eddie Robinson
Played RSG in early November and found the course in great condition with the greens a good speed for November. The staff were very welcoming and the clubhouse is steeped in history. It was a privilege to play there. The course is simply stunning; I've played many links and this was right up there with some of my favourites around Britain (which include Turnberry, Saunton, Burnham and Berrow, Silloth and Royal Porthcawl). If I had to pick a trio of favourite holes they'd be 4, 8 and 14. I agree there are courses with better sets of par 3's but I also think there are no real weak holes on the course - on certain holes you think you've got the measure only to find there re dangers lurking near the green, or on the green with subtle borrows - all good features of a classic links. We played RCP the previous day .... good but not as good as RSG. Just a note: What I can't understand is why there are so many comments below concentrating on negative points. RSG is an old club and still full of old traditions so accept it, enjoy the atmosphere and play golf ... "When in Rome ..." or go and play somewhere else :)
November 15, 2012
10 / 10
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Patrick Slamin
April 27, 2019

It’s a review - they are expressing their opinion of the course. Which is, you know, the point of writing it.

Tony White
I must have missed something here, I really didn't rate it that highly, shame as I was so looking forward to it. The 4th, 8th, 14th are world class holes but the rest are just pleasant links holes. Probably the weakest set of par 3's for an Open course, Burnham and Berrow has got the best set of par 3's of any Championship links course in England. Don't mind the clubhouse rules and members etc : That is what makes golf great. 3 low handicappers playing off white tees all managed to comfortably break 80, none of us broke 80 at Weston Super Mare and one shot 91 Someone please reply and tell me what it is I missed, thank you.
September 26, 2012
8 / 10
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John
September 26, 2012
Just an asinine review. The fact that you appear to be marking the course down because it afforded you the pleasure of breaking 80 tells me what I need to know about your values when analysing golf courses.
Harry
September 27, 2012
Dear John I thought my review was a fair one, RSG is the top rated Club on this website and we visit many Clubs in the Top 100 and we did not get anywhere near the Wow factor here, I still gave it 5 stars. To me, you have to be totally challenged mentally( I know what you're thinking, lets not go there) and for an Open venue it was all too easy. We always get supremely challenged at Saunton, Burn & Berr, I even thought West Lancs had a lot more to offer. We look for enjoyment, fun and then challenge, we all felt it failed to deliver as the No 1 Golf Club in England. Thank you for your response.
LarsX
We played this course on a weekday in June 2012 and the course was in good condition and we played from the medal tees. The greens where very true, but surprisingly slow. The course itself is very interesting with a variety of very good and sometimes exciting challenges, but visually much less appealing than Waterville, Ballybunion or Lahinch. The finishing holes (16-18) unfortunately are quite boring and a bit of a let down. The staff in the club house was not unfriendly, but very un-welcoming. The bar closes at 3pm so there is no way to have an afternoon snack unless you want to get a full dinner in the restaurant with jacket and tie. It is the only clubhouse where you have to ring a bell to enter. The Pro was really rude - only his assistant tried to be helpful. After making a huge fuss about reservations beforehand, the course was not full at all. I am happy to have played the course, but for a whopping 175 GBP Green fee I do expect a more welcoming environment. They probably don’t care as they assume that most visitors will only come once anyway. Play there if you don’t care about hospitality and look for better packages. We lived in the Bell Hotel in Sandwich which really get a high recommendation – nice rooms, good food and a very friendly staff.
June 12, 2012
4 / 10
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Claudio
August 31, 2012
Played the course on Aug 2 and have to partially disagree with this review, especially regarding the hospitality. It was very easy to make reservations and to change the tee times. The Secretary of the club has spent with us some time for welcoming us and tell us about the course. The green fee is definitely a little expensive but I guess that is the same for any British Open course. As far as the course is concerned it was fun and enjoyable even though I must admit that courses such as Dornoch, Turnberry, Ballybunion, Lahinch, Waterville are definitely more spectacular.
Simon
I played this course in Arpil 2012 and the condition was excellent. The design of the holes is nothing short of fantastic and I can't think of any two holes the same. You'll need to execute a huge variety of tee shots, approach shots and chip shots to make a good score on this course, and creativity and imagination are a must on the putting surfaces. Every club in your bag is likely to see some action with most of the par 4's requiring at least a mid iron approach. Watch out for the par 5 14th, the water hazzard is reachable with a driver off the white tees! I have been fortunate enough to play here 5 times and each time it becomes more enjoyable.
May 10, 2012
10 / 10
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Dominic Trigg
I played RSG this week which is the 6th open championship venue I have played within the past year. The weather was wonderful as was the course and contrary to other reviews, we were made to feel welcome by the club and the members. My favourite holes were the 4th, 14th and 18th and the condition of the course was perfect. Although not my favourite open course (Turnberry and Lytham are my favourites) I cannot wait to go back!
March 25, 2012
8 / 10
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