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
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Stefan Hindmarsh
Royal St George's has to be on every golfers list! I played it on the 31st March in near 40mph winds at times, and it even though at times I struggled to stand up and my ball was wobbling on the tee, let alone on the greens, it was simply amazing! The course is simply the best I have played! We started on the 10th tee and what a way to start! A great Par 4 with a raised green, which in the wind is incredibly hard to hit!! Then you move onto a cracking Par 3 of 242 yards! Then a great short hole, followed by three absolute brutes! Which combined total 1500 yards and they are two par 4's and a par 5! Then the beautiful Par 3 16th, and then the closing two holes which if I am honest I can't remember much of, but the 18th tee is certainly a very daunting tee shot bunkers line the fairway, and I certainly wouldn't want to have to par it to win the Open! The front nine though is in another league! The 1st with the thatched starters hut, and the dogleg 2nd, is about as 'gentle' as it gets. Then the 3rd is a brilliant Par 3. The green has two tiers and you play over 200 yards of rough to an island green surrounded by dunes and is the only par 3 on the Open rota without a bunker! Then you enter the teeth of the course! The fourth tee shot is the most daunting with the most viscous bunkers on the course, and there are plenty to chose from…. The 5th is a amazing dogleg par 4 where the approach is played through a gap between two dunes towards the sea. The 6th is possibly the finest Par 3 on the whole course, and then the 7th is a birdie opportunity par 5. And then the 8th is the hardest hole on the course, a semi-blind tee shot, followed by an approach of 150-175 yards to a green surrounded by dunes and bunkers. Then the 9th is a solid par 4 where hitting the green, as with most the other greens, is an absolute must! Then we ventured into the clubhouse, battered and bruised, and that was just the scorecard! However what a clubhouse! We had the best lunch imaginable in the dining room! In all I cannot help but think the only thing that prevents Royal St George's from being No.1 in England is perhaps the views beyond the course, but then again Birkdale is protected by dunes so there too views are limited. I will be back!
April 01, 2010
10 / 10
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Vorndron
Very good course and test of golf especially when the wind blows. Played here on a windy day in march and found the course in very good condition, greens true but not too fast. Front nine is more pleasing on the eye, through the dunes etc, as the back nine is a little flat but having said that is the stiffer test if the wind blows. Better than Hoylake but not in the same league as Birkdale. Excellent par 3's.
March 31, 2010
8 / 10
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Chezza
It has been almost a year to the day since I was fortunate enough this play this old English masterpiece, and I'm happy to admit to falling in love with it. So much so, that if I ever have trouble falling asleep, I will retrace my steps.

Like any good relationship it was not love at first sight. When on the practice ground, I was struck by the sparseness of the land. The dunes which become your playground on the front 9, were a distant but tempting view as a handful of members got underway. They turned out to be the only people that we saw that day, as myself and my playing partner spent a magical four and a half hours playing this wonderful links; pacing out yardages, stalking greens and generally treating the course as our own.

I'm tempted to say that the course starts slowly, but that's probably unfair on the 1st and 2nd, but the moment we stood on the par 3 3rd, the course really seemed to come alive. The run of holes which follows has so many highlights, it's like an episode of Match of the Day. My personal favorites were the par 4 5th, par 3 6th, the blind tee shot on the 7th. I could continue like this all the way to the brutal par 4 15th, which was playing into a slight crosswind which managed to stretch the hole even further.

I'm at pains to complain about the last 3 holes as I did really enjoy them and the challenge they provided, but I do feel that they suffer from the sparseness mentioned at the start of the review. However, when the stands are up, I'm certain that they would frame them better, helping to top off the holes which have gone before them. Whilst it's fair to say that the vistas beyond the course are not in the league of a Turnberry, the beauty within is simply stunning, and I found the lack of external 'eye candy' to be a positive, as it allowed me to focus on, what is in my eyes, a true 6 ball course.

Everything about my day here was more than I could have ever hoped it to be. The only negative being my concern that if I ever returned, how could I beat this experience? It's not for me to advise golfers to play here as I would presume it is on the list for 99% of golfers anyway. All I can say, is that I hope you enjoy it as much as myself and playing partner. One last thing, I would be interested to hear from people who have played here and Royal Birkdale, as RSG is lower than Royal Birkdale in the rankings. How much better is it, or are both courses in that top bracket, where truthfully the only thing separating them is a good honest debate over a pint?
March 31, 2010
10 / 10
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Joey Chase
I played in November and found the whole experience to be amazing. I would put it up there with the best links I've played hands down. Greens were in excellent shape and very true. Don't miss it!
December 12, 2009
10 / 10
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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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