Rye Golf Club,
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Firstly, a lot of reviewers compare Rye and Royal St George's in the same breath; let’s get one thing straight they simply should not be. Why? You could argue that RSG has sold its soul to the devil, extending the course beyond its original design to ensure it is still on the Open rota as well as becoming a more commercialised operation where as Rye has not; it remains at its traditional best at only 6300 off the whites with a par of 68 and the quirkiness of how a club house used to be. I would say the only similarities are that they are both links courses; RSG should be compared to the other Open course to provide a true reflection of how good/bad it is. The question with Rye is does it need to change? No of course not. The course is a true test of golf with the wind generally coming off the sea it plays across the course and will play havoc with your ball, that coupled with the undulating fairways, deep bunkers and hard greens just makes it a great test of golf. The par 3s are just plain difficult and with hard greens you have to conjure up some magic to try get your ball on them as the approaches are protected by bunkers and humps and bumps to prevent the simple “land it short and let it roll on”. The par fours are great, the long ones enabling you to play some links bumps and runs which make them play a little shorter and the short ones really well defended by humps and bumps around the greens. However, and as you know, anything that ends up close to the flag always has an element of luck. Try and play on a Sunday if you can as roast lunch is just excellent. All in all a great test of golf and well worth playing if you want a taste of true links golf, well worth the excellent rating in my opinion if you put everything in to perspective.
September 24, 2007
I played at Rye for the first time in May on a beautiful early summers day. This was the only south coast links I hadn't played and what had put me off was the inability to get a tee time without a member. Although I was playing in a society this has all changed, visitors are quite welcome to play on the new course, which is flatter and nearer the sea, and there are limited slots available on the Old course (see their web page). On arrival I must admit to being a little taken aback with first impressions, having played Littlestone, Royal St George's, Royal Cinque Ports and Hayling Island I was expecting a lovely old club house (or new in Hayling's case). However this is a bit of a 70's disaster, although it does have a wonderful view from the terrace, the stick on fake wood paneling would take some getting used to. Still, it has the normal old money ambiance with tables and chairs gifted from various regimental and well connected societies and the obligatory jacket and tie after 11am and old school style lunches. The course itself was in pretty good condition (not as good as Georges, Deal or Littlestone though), it was becoming a real summer links with that mixture of green and brown grass which gives those tight lies and fast bouncy surfaces. My only complaint were the greens, slow for a links and I think not a patch on Deal or George's and not even close to Littlestone's. The course plays accross, on and over several lines of dunes and this makes many of the holes real gems with a really strong collection of par 3's, most of which you have to hit the very small putting surface or face a chip/bunker shot from hell.There are the typical blind shots and awkward fairway bounces of the old school links with subtle putting surfaces. There are though some holes, the 10th and 11th in particular, which lose this feel completely and are really just parkland to look at until you get up near to the green. This is though a great course for all the comments, some of the roller coaster dune rides are exactly what you would expect and the finishing hole is excellent with the club house being a real hazard to any drive leaking left. It is a wonderful day out for old fashioned golf lovers where rub of the green is still a part of golf, blind shots are an integral part of the game and two ball three hour rounds enable you to lunch at leasure in you blazer and regimental tie. So having played them all if I was coming down on tour to play the courses my dispassionate ranking would be : Royal St George's, Royal Cinque Ports (Deal), Rye, Hayling Island, Littlestone and then Prince's. I agree with the previous reviewer a perfect place for golf is a little over doing it, however nice it is. for me in terms of atmosphere and my personal preferences I think George's is the best for sheer size and feel of the whole place and experience, Deal is the real pure links course and certainly the toughest, Littlestone has the better atmosphere and best Greens and is fair to the golfer being reasonably flat, Rye is quirky and good fun old school, Hayling is a great test of golf but a little over played then Prince's is all a little disappointing except the Dunes 9.
May 24, 2007
Ever since I read about Rye in Donald Steel's 'Classic Golf Links of Great Britain and Ireland' over 12 years ago,I have wanted to play the course.Well.I finally managed it this year and I have to say I was disappointed.OK,it's interesting,slightly quirky,peaceful-generally a nice place to be, but ..."No other course can stand comparison with it in terms of character,setting and atmosphere."???Come on Donald-put away those rose-tinted specs,blow away the mists of nostalgia,and get a grip!!!
October 17, 2006
Mixed feelings about this place. I always look forward to playing it but mainly (like Littlestone)because they have some of the finest links greens in the country,. The course itself is a bit hit and miss, there are a few blind tee shots (not evryones cup of tea), with landing areas far too narrow, however this makes it even more of a challenge. It isn't impossible to get on but beware, abide by their rules otherwise one of the members will make a scene....had this when we were playing foursomes (no fourballs allowed) and my partner practiced a chip....never seen someone go so mad. All in all a good challenge but I think RSG is much better
July 18, 2006
Rye was one of the most interesting courses I haveplayed in England. Not as difficult to get on as theysay. Just contact them on their website in advanceand you should get on. I have here in May 2004 and my buddy played Rye last year neither of ushad a problem getting on. Some of the par 4's areas tough as anywhere. The 3, 4, and 13 holes were quite memorable. I would definitely play hereagain
May 10, 2006
Amazing. A proper links course, if you ever manage to get a tee time that is. They have some of the fastest greens in the country as well. I played Royal St George's the next week and was much faster. It also shows that courses don't have to be over 7000 yards to be hard.
February 26, 2006
I agree with the last review. Nothing special at all. Don't bother. Vastly overrated and pompous.
January 09, 2006
4 / 10
March 24, 2009
I lived for many, many years, relatively nearby in Tenterden, but only managed a solitary game at Rye towards the end of my tenure in Kent (before heading for early retirement in Scotland) so I agree with others that it's fiendishly difficult to get a game there - or maybe I wasn't moving in the right circles! However, the course is a throw-back to a previous age so is worth it just for the novelty of imagining how life (and golf) was in the 1940s and 1950s. I almost felt ashamed to have modern equipment as hickory shafted mashie niblicks seemed more the order of the day....and perhaps I could have found the pencil-thin fairways with such a device. I agree with others that it is boringly pompous but the Colonel Blimps of this world are a dying breed so give it another 25 years and the whole place might have dragged itself into the 20th century. In short, getting a game at Muirfield was easier and more satisfying....yes, by all means try and get at least one round at Rye though I couldn't ever imagining such an adventure ever appearing in the BBCs '100 things to do before you die.' Good but not that good, I'm afraid.
June 21, 2011
Totally agree-how Rye fiddles it way into any ranking one can only wonder. The course is mickey-mouse at best,difficult for all the wrong reasons although lunch is normally excellent-and the members well.....
Rye is a 'quirky' little links course and it definitely has the feel of a walk back in time. The combination of rock hard undulating fairways and wispy rough ensures the driver stays in the bag most of the day. The 4th is a fantastic 400+ yd P4 with a 'table-top' fairway and a WW2 bunker overlooking the green. 7 is a great little P3 and 10 + 13 are solid Par4's the later having a long blind 2nd shot to an unbunkered green. 11 is a hole that's a little out of character with the rest of the course but strong holes like 17 (long P3) and 18 (long P4) underlay it's tough under-belly. It's a pity that it's not a little longer but I'm sure that the members are happy with things just the way they are. KP 8.5/10
August 13, 2004
Tough to get on, but it's worth persevering because it's a joy to play. Greens are stunning, firm, fast and hard to read. Some of the fairways are pencil thin, especially on the dune tops. This is an amazingly quirky course...what lucky, lucky members.
April 06, 2004