Royal St George’s

Royal St George’s Golf club, host of this year’s 140th Open, is one of the oldest clubs in Britain.

Royal St George’s Golf club, host of this week’s 140th Open, is one of the oldest clubs in Britain and down the year’s has been considered as one of England’s strongest rivals to Scotland’s St Andrews.

It was designed and developed in Sandwich, Kent, by Dr Laidlaw Purves of the Royal Wimbledon Golf Club as a high class alternative for London’s golfers who, at the time of its establishment in 1887, were having to play their golf on often crowded and unkept courses in the London area which were no comparison to the better courses in Scotland at the time.

Purves 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.

He did such a good job that royal status was bestowed on the Club by King Edward VII in May 1902.

This classical championship Links course has always provided a severe test for even the greatest golfers down the years and it is not for nothing that only three Open winners, Bill Rogers in 1981, Greg Norman in 1993 and Ben Curtis in 2003, have managed to be under par after 72 holes.

As you’d expect for a course with such a noble name, Royal St. George’s holds true to the oldest and best traditions of the game.

Historically, it’s been very important, hosting the first Open to be played outside Scotland in 1894 and then being the site of two important British victories, the first by Henry Cotton in 1934 the second by Sandy Lyle in 1895.

The course is classic links. Summed up nicely by Bernard Darwin in his book about the course: “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.

The course is not a traditional out and back layout. 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 amazing 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 their flags, and that astonishing bunker on the 4th hole that has been cut into a huge dune.

It’s 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 6 is called the ‘Maiden’. 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 have found a watery grave”.

The 15 is considered architecturally to be one of the most impressive in golf because the fairway bunkers are virtually symmetrical.

Some hazards are not clearly visible from the tees, but in the past things were much worse.

In the mid 1970s, blind shots were considered passé, so Frank Pennink was brought in to ring the changes. Three new holes were built and tee changes were made to two other holes. Many, except for the real traditionalists, believe that these changes have further improved the layout.

Royal St George’s 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 up slope or a down slope, then one needs to hit a long iron or fairway wood into the green from an uneven lie.

The Links provides a severe test for even the greatest of golfers and the fact that only three Open winners, Bill Rogers in 1981, Greg Norman in 1993 and Ben Curtis in 2003, have managed to be under par after the 72 holes, speaks for itself.


To get a look at the club scorecard and an aerial Map of the course who can click here here