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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cjfoster
Played this on a windy late October Day. Fantastic experience but very difficult for mere mortal mid handicap golfers like myself. 4 holes - no points then suddently I began to hit the ball properly and four pars in a row! Bunkers rae a major defense on most holes (take your medicine in the fairways) and only one flat lie all day. In the end Iwas somewhatw eather beaten and battered but 28 points and the pure history of the place made the (very) expensive green fee worth it. The facilities generally are just OK (its an old fashioned club- proud of its traditions) - remeber a jacket and tie if yo want to explore. Pro and Caddie master very friendly. If your in Kent (I was on a family holiday nearby) any keen golfer would would regret missing the opportunity - if you can afford it!
October 28, 2007
8 / 10
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kelly conway
I recently played RSG for the 2nd time and I came away with a very similar perception as I had from my previous visit.It has a very nice, old world ambience: Very nice clubhouse and many tasteful rewminders ofits Open Championship heritage.The setting is however mixed: the initial holes that play away from the power plant are pleasant; however the views back towards the power plant and the pfizer faciilty border on being ugly.The course itself opens well and has many outstanding and very difficult holes. I found the close (17 & 18) weak and somewhat of a let down.
July 21, 2007
6 / 10
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Carl
February 25, 2008
Relief is how I'd describe 17 and 18.
Anthony Daniels
April 02, 2010
I would say that 17 or 18 are neither a let down nor a relief. 17 is a brute when played into the wind, as it generally is, and it has probably the smallest green on the course which is also a raised target. 18 is a little easier but you must still be long and straight. As another reviewer has said, I wouldn't fancy needing a par down here to win the Open. Fair play to the man that manages that.
faisal
It took me weeks after playing it to fully appreciate it. The greens were large and true but very subtle. The bunkers would eat up your balls. The fairways meandered between mounds and at times you coudn't tell where u were going. its one hell of a test and a must play course.
July 17, 2007
10 / 10
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Neil
I played RSG in a howling gale. The front nine were not too exposed and I was 4 over, the back nine were mercilessly wind swept ... 12 over. The course is however magnificent and even in winter plays off full tees and greens. The greens were quick and true and beautifully kept. For such a prestigious and rather exclusive club the officials and green staff I met during the day were very friendly and welcoming. I have played some of the great links course in the UK including the Old Course at St Andrews and this is right up there with the best. It's pot luck whether you get to play in the wind or not but even though conditions were tough it was a day to remember.
April 03, 2007
8 / 10
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Adrian Gaspar
Played today in pretty strong winds, and it was good old fashioned tough links golf. I think handicaps go out the window when one of your party (of 7) who plays off a solid 4 handicap can’t reach a 500 yard par 5 with Driver, Driver and 5 iron!. I know some will say that you also have the wind with you, but I think RSG is cleverly laid out because I felt you played more holes in to the wind than with. We all agreed a very solid test of golf, and good value at the winter rate of £65 a head. Greens were very true and in good condition. The Pro and Caddiemaster were very friendly and welcoming, yes the club has rules, but hey ho, it’s the members club and if you don’t like some of their rules don’t play their course. Only my opinion but I didn’t find it stuffy or pompous at all. As for the overall rating I would have to say it is very solid and ticks all the boxes but has no wow factor like some of my favourites – RCD, Turnberry, Portrush and Kingsbarns. Also it is not as much fun as say North Berwick and I have to say, and some people may ask me to wash my mouth out with soap and water, I didn’t think it was as good as Tralee. Certainly doesn’t make my personal top 10. Also makes you realise how much of a factor aesthetics can be – maybe they shouldn’t I don’t know – but on a grey February day RSG is pretty grim compared to some of the courses mentioned above.
February 27, 2007
6 / 10
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michael ball
having been at sandwich for the 1993 open i always wanted to play it and got to do that in may and thought the price was a bit steep but didnt care, i just wanted to hit a drive over the 4th and monster bunkers, the course was totally different to anything i had played and was impressed with the layout and condition, the greens didnt look great but boy did they roll well and the bunkers were very hard to get out off. the 10th is probably the hardest par 4 on the course and the conditions didnt help and the rough was savage, lost some brand new balls. clubhouse and lockers were first class and when my girlfriend walked into a lady free zone they were very nice to her, even if there was no one in the room!
September 10, 2006
8 / 10
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Paul Thornley
Dreary, Pompous and Dull. Apart from having wonderful greens and a few innivotive bunkers, this is not worth the money.
July 30, 2006
2 / 10
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Chris Jones
February 28, 2007
Dreary, Pompous and dull - no way. RSG rightly holds its place in the Top 20 of GB&I. Dreary and dull? No golfer (regardless of how many courses you have played) could really ever mean that about this course.
Jack Hammond
May 21, 2007
What? It is anything, but pompous and dull. The staff are wonderful and the course is one of the most exciting. He must have had an awful round: quite usual for a first timer!
Carl
June 12, 2007
This is an idiotic statement whether you like links golf or not. Some clubs are modern some are old fashioned, RSG is the latter and is an interesting visit for it. Grow up and don't be so dreary, dull and pompous.
Anthony Daniels
April 02, 2010
I think this person put their review on the wrong course.
John
Played the course on a beautiful sunny and still July day. I suspect that any other kind of day would have produced a disasterous experience. The course is bare and right of the channel. You can see traces of the relentless wind; no plants, no grass. It is kept remarkably well and the greens in particular were huge, absolutely huge, hard and fast. Lots of pot bunkers in good condition and fairways in decent shape. Maybe you have to be a links fan (which I am not) but there was nothing too memorable about the course, other than the British open history. Its good to do it once but I'm not likely to make the trek back.
July 27, 2006
6 / 10
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Cédric
How should I begin??? Probably with the caddy master as your round starts there. A very friendly man who does a great job that he probably enjoys much more than his former occupation (he was a bobby he said...). That's where you pay your (expensive) green fee. Next is the pro shop where you get range balls...That's where the pro told me that,as a single, I might have to wait here and there as 3 and 4 balls were ahead and this was "rush hour"... which for St George's means that 20 cars were in the car parking spaces and I didn't see any of the games ahead of me until the 11th tee!!!! Lucky members... Back to the green fee:120 quid, yes good things have a price! But if you are a member's guest, it will cost you £15 and £12 if you are under 18! The course was in immaculate condition which is of course easier when they don't have traffic. Firm greens and terrific fairways. Lots of up and down on the fairways, blind tee shots and no distance markers (apart from the watering system which had numbers here and there) so as you guessed, real old-fashionned golf and real fun too! No real signature hole, except maybe the 4th par 4 and its huge bunker. Lots of great par 4s. Strange layout with a par 70 and only 3 par 5s. Wind always comes into play. A real great links. Just one minus though....I finished my round at 5.30 and the snack bar was closed and the pro shop too. You can ring a bell to get something to drink, but you will be served outside, or get in your blazer and tie and get in the main lounge. Disappointing......
June 06, 2006
8 / 10
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Carl Statham
This is a real must for any golfer. The clubhouse is history and tradition personified. The course one hell of a tough test. The great thing is the day ticket from November 1st falls to £95 and you may be good enough to score better than the winner of the first Open held here. One thing though is you need to play this course more than once, the front nine plays accross huge dunes and placement rather than length is key. Land in any of the fairway bunkers and it's a dropped shot. I politely asked about membership and they politely chuckled, if you happen to know 12 members and 4 ex captains you might have more luck.
November 05, 2005
10 / 10
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