Royal St George's - Kent - England

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


  • +44 (0) 1304 613090


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: 96
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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 08, 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 07, 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 25, 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 11, 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 Bale
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 09, 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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Niall
I played RSG but in December last year. Anybody from the UK should know that the condition of any UK golf course will be worse in the winter than the summer. I experienced true greens (not fast but OK) and a course that was presented as well as I would have expected for the time of year. We paid £90 with lunch and we experienced a three club wind and lovely winter’s day. The members we met were friendly and even one came and chatted to us at our lunch table. It was an experience that I will hold dearly as I hadn’t played RSG before but have played RCP and Prince’s. Even in the winter with average course conditions, RSG is a class up from RCP and perhaps two up from Prince’s. I could write an essay on how memorable the playing experience was at RSG but dozens of people have already done that before me. RSG is not my favourite links course in Britain, I’d have to give that award to Royal Dornoch followed by Muirfield. In Ireland I prefer Ballybunion (Old), primarily because it has more drama from a landscape perspective. I’ve just counted up and have now played 34 courses in the current World Top 100 listed on this site and RSG is in my Top 10 on winter merit. I think the comments made by the previous reviewer are juvenile.
February 15, 2012
8 / 10
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Edward
I played the course in November with a colleague. Having used this website successfully in the past, I trust the majority of the reviews. I have to agree with the reviewer below that gave an average rating. The staff and members are incredibly unfriendly which set the tone for the day. As a member of one of the oldest 'members' courses I appreciate that the club is owned by the members. However, if the club elects to allow visitors to play, they should treat them with respect, particularly if you are charging in excess of £100 for the privilege. The course was in very average condition and for links greens that normally stand up well in winter, they were incredibly bobbly. There are some very strong holes yet several very unmemorable ones. On returning to the clubhouse, the reception was so unwelcoming, we drove to Sandwich for lunch.Perhaps St George's rests on it's laurels and Open history, but I will not be returning in a hurry and agree that Royal Cinque Ports is a far more enjoyable and equally challenging experience. The fool below who commented on ringing a bell to enter someone's house should be blacklisted. Comparing paying up to £180 for a round of golf to entering a stranger's house is simply idiotic!
February 14, 2012
4 / 10
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El Gringo
February 15, 2012
It is reviews such as this and the one dated 22 March 2011 which do this site no favours. It would be far better to direct the main focus of a review on the course rather than club rules and unfriendly members.
Hugh
February 15, 2012
I agree with El Gringo some people just live to gripe. At least RSG is open for visitors. Perhaps the whinging reviewer would prefer RSG to have a closed visitor policy like Loch Lomond or Queenwood? RSG is a links course from the very top drawer of links anywhere in the world and I think it's a privilege to play it and we should be grateful to expereince the opportunity.
Mick Valerio
played it yesterday [29th March] in perfect conditions - not bad but certainly not 'great' - if you've been around Ballybunion, Birkdale and County Down [my top 3, in no particular order] then this is a huge let down and not fit to be mentioned in the same breath - front 9 has a nice pure linksy feel to it but the back 9 is lacklustre, with too few truly memorable holes - what really stuck in my throat was that we're still 4 months away from the Open and, already, 75% of the bunkers are out of play as GUR - how long does it take to prepare a bunker?! - worth a visit, but only because the big boys will be there in July...it doesn't, however, merit its ranking as 2nd among the English courses...I've played far better, but then that's just my opinion!
March 29, 2011
8 / 10
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Joey
July 19, 2011
I must disagree with the reviewer here. I find Sandwich to be the most fun course to play. I loved all of your mentioned top three but found they lacked imagination. County Down has the flatest greens I've played for a top links. Birkdale plays between the valley's of grand dunes. Ballybunion... well we all must love it!!! I just find the green complexes to be very interesting and, although the fairways are a bit severe, they are very fun to play from. They never offer a flat lie creating even more challenge. The front nine alone is worth the greens fee. Also, it takes a great amount of effort and time to create a reveted bunker. Especially with the size of some of those bunkers! I do wish everyone could understand how difficult it is to make them look that good. After playing Birkdale I felt the same way as the reviewer above. Lackluster, just because it's in the Open Rota doesn't merit a number one in England. Although I love them all and would love them the most after a round on any of them!