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 Cancelled Cancelled
2021 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

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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: 9 out of 10 Reviews: 93
TaylorMade
David Davis
For me Royal St. George’s is perhaps the ultimate championship course. We met it in high winds and is it ever a challenge, in fact perhaps I would even call it a beast in those circumstance. One excellent hole after another but very exacting and the rough was up and presented considerable challenge. I would advise anyone playing for the first time to make sure and take a caddy or at the very least invest in a caddybook and bring your map reading skills. We had not reserved one in advance and were too early to get one sorted. While it was ok, we often felt the challenge of trying to figure out the correct line to play on was too tough not knowing the course.

Royal St. George’s amazes me, as standing on the first tee you wonder if this site is not too flat to delivery a really interesting links experience however, this is nothing more than an optical illusion as seemingly out of nowhere come strong undulations and dunes, yet it still feels like when they start the level of the dunes descends below sea level as much as it rises above it. This too could be a bit of a visual trick but once on the course you certainly don’t have the feeling of being on a flat site. When the 4th hole arrives you are met with a massive bunker right of the fairway and a mostly blind drive. This famous hole is certainly my favorite on the course, not only spectacular off the tee but also one of the most dramatic greens you may ever see with a huge elevation change from front to back and a very steep ridge that seems like a false front and may well be but it’s mowed out as green so it left me wondering if they ever place the pin left front. In any case the approach is very challenging to a middle or back right pin position.

The par 4, 5th hole is also an excellent hole with a semi blind approach over dunes to a large lightly undulated green, another one of my favorites. My next favorite hole would be the par 4, 11th playing uphill to a plateau green and straight into the wind on our day. Called Himalayas it’s become a classic hole that’s often copied. A day at Royal St. George’s is not complete without partaking in the lunch festivities, dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s on a perfect classic links experience.
September 28, 2014
10 / 10
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Michael Frankel
I'm a golf freak who's played all over the world. My first visit in many years, I had forgotten how great this multiple Open is. Absolutely majestic. Top condition, very warm welcome, comfortable Dormy house, great staff. Can't wait to return.
July 02, 2014
10 / 10
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2 people found this review helpful

Jim McCann

There are plenty of excellent hole by hole accounts below of what it’s like to play at RSG so I’m not going to repeat any of those. What I will say is this: for those who’ve played the Championship course at Carnoustie and think it’s a tough track, they really need to undergo a golfing reality check by playing at Royal St George’s because it’s an Royal St George's Golf Course - Photo by reviewerabsolute beast in comparison to its Scottish cousin – even when there’s only a slight breeze blowing.

After the first five holes, the course routing became a bit random for me over the next half a dozen holes and I found this disorientation amongst the sand hills to be most disconcerting – a fact endorsed by the lowly Stableford scores in my scorecard over that stretch of holes!

Stray just a little from the fairways and you can forget about finding your ball; keeping the ball in play is essential, which is not an easy thing to do when playing blind shots at a number of the holes.

God knows how difficult it must be to get around here when the wind is up – let’s just say I’m glad I had only a light breeze to contend with last week. RSG is a must play for serious golfers of whatever handicap but don’t expect to find many, if any, favours on a very demanding layout that I’d classify as a “matchplay course” rather than a “strokeplay course” for the average amateur player like myself.

Jim McCann

June 09, 2014
8 / 10
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David Shepherd
Recently played Royal St. George's while visiting wife's family in the UK. Such a great environment for a golf course... like Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights out on the moors. Having a caddy a definite plus as it's easy to get confused on where to go next. Course was in pretty good shape, but don't expect it to be perfectly manicured, that's part of the charm. On hole #7 follow your caddie's advice and don't drive it left! Nothing like this is the states. Great experience. Will definitely return.
May 14, 2014
10 / 10
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Archie
July 11, 2014
Well done you. I would add that few courses require control of flight as much at RStG. There are those who complain that good shots at Sandwich kick off humps and hollows into the rough, but if one can move the ball both ways every fairway is accessible. For example, the 17th demands a flat draw off the tee. And, although there are fewer blind shots than some commentators have claimed, it is not an easy course on which to score well first time round. It takes time there to learn where to hit it. Who on first acquaintance could see an eight foot borrow on the ninth green, or that what looks from the 12th tee like the left hand bunker is actually in the middle of the fairway?
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.