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

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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: 8.9 out of 10 Reviews: 89
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Kevan Voce
The Gold Standard. This place simply cannot be bettered. Great location - secluded and very quiet. Select membership. Beautiful traditional clubhouse. Great ambience inside. Loved the exclusivity and the fact that visitors weren't allowed in the dining room. The course itself is top drawer. The front nine being the best I've played anywhere along with Royal County Down. Back 9 better than RCD but views not as good. Overall it edges RCD as my favourite. The condition of the course was exceptional, the staff and members very friendly and the two-ball policy as usual was very welcome. I played with my brother, father and grandfather and we had a terrific game of foursomes. The "oldies" beat us 3&2 after we couldn't get out of Bjorn's bunker. Best hole - 5th. High point was the glass of malt on the 5th tee...
October 13, 2009
10 / 10
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stephen voce
Proper golf. As good an atmosphere as i`ve sampled anywhere this place is pure class. As far removed from The Belfry, Celtic Manor, etc. as it is possible to get. The condition of the course was incredible,the bunkers perfect. Prefered the front 9. As a test of golf it was bang on .Links golf at its finest but it was the overall feel of the place and lack of crass modernism that places it fourth in my overall rankings. Superb.
October 10, 2009
10 / 10
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Cédric
Almost 3 years since I played here for the first time, and that might sound silly, but I had forgotten how good it really is. Is there a better collection of greens somewhere? Only RCD has the edge for me, RSG being T2 with Birkdale, Muirfield and Turnberry in my books. All holes have something to offer, something always outstanding. Played in a strong wind and my goodness it was tough! Already looking forward to seeing the Open there in 2 years. RSG is stuck back in time, no lady members here, and they only just recently put distances on the watering systems (which didn’t please the boy in the Pro shop too much!!). The formality of the place might put some people off. But I know I’ll be back sooner than later. Loved it!!
June 02, 2009
10 / 10
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Andrew Evans
July 21, 2009
Royal St George's is without doubt the finest course I have played. I have played all the Open courses and many, many of the Top 100 Courses but none compare to Royal St George's.
Anthony Daniels
September 05, 2009
I am booked to play RSG in March next year and cannot wait.
Anthony Daniels
March 30, 2010
Well, I've just got back from my visit here and I feel like I've done ten rounds with Tyson. The guy in the pro shop said that the 4-5 club wind was not unusual. It certainly made it fantastically difficult. What a place. What a course. The best I've ever played.
Ronan O'Driscoll
It doesn't get any better than this! Wow. RSG is jaw droppingly impressive. Almost every hole is spectacular and the layout means you are with the wind on one hole and against it next. THe final 4 holes are absolute beasts - I can't wait to see how the pro's get on in the run in at The Open in 2011. There are too many exceptional holes to highlight any, but getting successfully out of Thomas Bjorn's bunker was one my many pleasures on what was my best ever golfing day. We topped our day off off Pimm's on the lawn. Amazing. RSG is an experience not to be missed and my 19 pals all agreed this was the best-of-the-best.
May 26, 2009
10 / 10
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seveng
Tout simplement sublime. Avec le vent, on comprend vite pourquoi les cartes des pros ne sont pas si bonnes. L'ambiance y est excellente, les membres trés courtois et trés gentils, le parcours une merveille, ou chaque sortie dans le rough sera sanctionné...prenez le temps de regarder le ciel qui change tout le temps. J'y reviendrai !!!
May 25, 2009
10 / 10
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Keith Baxter
May 27, 2009
English translation of above review: Simply outstanding. With the wind, you quickly understand why even the Pros don't always score that well. The atmosphere was great and the members welcoming, the course is a marvel. Every venture into the rough will be punished. Take the time to watch the ever-changing sky. I'll be back!!
Christo
It took me a while to warm to St George's. The course is big and intimidating and difficult, the wind can really blow and it can wear you out if you're not on top of your game (by the time you reach the 14th green you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd played a full round). Now there are very few places I'd swap it for. You have to drive it well but there are enough tee boxes for you to find your range. The real key is the approach play, as whilst the greens are large, the landing areas are often very small, and the pin positions can be devilish. The 4th is a good example - a lot of people talk about the perilous drive, but the real difficulty is landing it on top of the huge slope in front of the green and keeping it on the small plateau any where near the flag. The same is true at holes like 2, 3, 8, 9, 11, 15, 18 (9 is just marvellous). The rebunkering is good, they are proper deep, difficult, shot taking bunkers that require planning to avoid. If I have a criticism its that the bunkers don't offer enough risk/reward balance, esp on holes like 5, 13 and 18 where there's no benefit to going near them. The The real joy is that you'll hit every club in the bag during the round. The key to good scoring is your long putting from 60-100 feet, as the slopes are treacherous. Great course to play in winter as the greens stay firm and true but receptive. As at April 2009 it needs a bit more rain to be in good shape as the greens are still a little uneven following hollow coring. If you appreciate it is an old fashioned links course that is bloody difficult but a wonderful challenge then you'll never stop enjoying it. Please make time to have lunch in the dining room as the roast beef is worth the trip alone (and the snack bar isn't up to the standard of the rest of the club).
April 09, 2009
10 / 10
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Sandy Ritchie
I played here on an overcast and fairly windy day in mid March eagerly anticipating the test ahead and I must say I was not disappointed. Off the medal tees and with a 2-3 club wind blowing this is one of the most testing courses I have ever played. There is a good variety to the holes with some interesting short par 4’s, classic par 3’s with penal bunkering and the par 5 “Suez Canal” poses a plethora of challenges to anyone who is anything short of being a pure ball striker. Enjoyably most holes are played in what feels like isolation to the rest and the large greens (although still early in the season) seemed true and should be of great speed in the summer months. Highlights include watching your drive soar over the gargantuan bunkering on the 4th and the split fairway, par 4 eighth. I think I will have to play in the summer to get a true feel for the place as there was no definition of the rough and many bunkers were still G.U.R but in spite of this and the fact that the surrounding scenery is not in the same league as say Kingsbarns, it was still a fascinating test of golf. The pro’s will not get it easy here in 2011!
March 27, 2009
8 / 10
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wesley
Played this on Friday 27th February for £70 winter fee16 degrees c and not a drop of water on the course, best day of the year and i got a winter rate too!!When i got there i was hit by the charm and sense of occassion that this course exudes.Very good service from the caddiemaster and i was directed to the driving range to warm up.The driving range was immaculate and you can tell immediately that you are at a class golf course, it was like hitting off Greens!I started off on the tenth hole and did not have anyone infront of me all-round.The course was immaculate there was alot of work going on with the bunkers, to see the effort they are putting into these for the forthcoming open they are hosting really shows their commitment to making this a great course. Some of these bunkers are monsters!My favourite holes were the 10th, 14th, 15th & 16th; the 16th has to be the best par 3 i have ever seen.As briefly stated before this course is an amazing layout; the quality of the course makes it in a league of its own; the greens; whilst recently hollow tined were very true and very fast, i can only imagine how tough they can be in the height of summer!!Rough was tough and long but not as bad as i expected in places, so long as you stick to the fairways you wont lose a ball! There are some blind shots and some real risk and reward shot options on lots of holes. There was only a slight breeze; i was lucky- no doubt that if there is a real wind, this course will be the toughest out there.All in all i am overwhelmed at my time at this course and will re-visit to really enjoy it now knowing the layout.
March 01, 2009
10 / 10
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Max Monroe
RSG is an excellent Links course even if the British Open weren't played here it would still be one of the best examples of Links golf. RSG has sand dunes, rough, (rough and rough), deep bunkers, blind shots, strategic play is required, the bump and run into greens is almost always an option and you will find the short grass a true "fairway" with lots of bounces where some bounces better than others. There is a good practice area to warm up or practice the deep bunker recovery. The club itself is understated (which you hardly see in the United States these days). On a busy day you might see 15 autos in the car park it isn't a place of the tour busses and crazed tourists this is a traditional, classic club just as you would want to experience. The clubhouse is nice and the mens locker room is one of the most posh you will find in GB&I. Once you see the locker room you will understand it was built for the pro's. The lunches in the spike bar need some help for a club this nice they should offer something tastier, I can't speak for the dining room however I didn't bring my jacket and tie. The Starter is a character he drew me a map on the score card of where to walk and where to aim my shots it was very helpful as you can get lost amongst the dunes (not many English links play amongst sand dunes as you would expect which make this course stand out). The pro shop is well stocked with goodies to take home. But none the less the course is why you will visit and it is a real championship test. Bring lots of balls as the rough is deep and you won't find them strayed tee shots (at least during certain times of the year).
February 27, 2009
10 / 10
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Tim Gorman
A no-arguments "Cathedral of Golf." I have played this every year for the last 7 years (and Harry, please get booking for 2009). Usually we play in April but in 08 we played in mid-June. What a difference. The rough was punishing for having 2 more months to grow. But nothing can take the shine off this course. Every time I play there I love it a little bit more. Every hole has its own distinctive character. I have finally figured out how to play the 4th without being intimidated by the Himalayan bunkering facing you from the tee. But holes 4,5,8,10,13,15 & 17 are just tough links holes without contrived trickery. The course feels as if it was gently carved out of its enviroment. If it had the views of RCD or Tralee it would be impossible to fault. Top-notch...Tim Gorman
February 25, 2009
10 / 10
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Tim Gorman
February 25, 2009
I know this is probably not the done thing, but I forgot to mention the food in the dining room. Yes it is a pain putting on the jacket and tie, but the food that you will be rewarded with is worth the effort - better than anywhere else, Muirfield and Rye included!