To have even one Open venue in your region is something that not many places can lay claim to, but to have three is something very special indeed. With The 149th Open Championship heading to the Kent coast this summer as the world’s greatest golfers descend on Royal St George’s, here we take a look at our region’s trio of world-class Open Championship venues.
The Garden of England has long been revered as one of the country’s most idyllic and spectacular areas of natural beauty, a county where visitors can enjoy the peace and serenity of the countryside while also savouring gastronomic delights and a vast array of tourist attractions to rival anywhere in the country. A haven of architectural beauty and rich sporting history, the county is rightly regarded as a glittering jewel in Britain’s tourism crown - not least the stunning trio of championship links courses along the southeast Kent coastline that help to make our region arguably the UK’s premier golf destination. This natural links haven carries a rich history and tradition of quality, having played host to a combined seventeen Open Championships through the years, with an eighteenth now firmly in sight.
From the towering dunes and wild landscape of Royal St George’s Golf Club, to the open natural sand scrapes of neighbouring Prince’s and undulating topography of Royal Cinque Ports, this majestic stretch of English links has it all. Just 74 miles from London, Kent’s three Open venues offer an idyllic golf break and an unforgettable experience across the board, combining everything that any discerning tourist could possibly wish for when planning their next golfing break.
Prince’s is comprised of three 9-hole loops - The Shore, The Dunes and The Himalayas – that all have their own unique architectural and stylistic characteristics. Recent redevelopment, under the stewardship of renowned golf course architects McKenzie & Ebert, has given the club a modern edge while returning some of the original charm of the pre-war course that hosted the 1932 Open, won by the legendary Gene Sarazen.
Vast open sand scrape areas, natural wetlands and feature walkways perpetuate the raw, back-to-nature aesthetic while the large, challenging green complexes, strategic bunkering and elevated tee positions ensure a tough, yet rewarding challenge. With stunning panoramas of the English Channel throughout, Prince’s presents a welcome break from the hubbub and transports visitors to a tranquil golfing paradise.
Once again, this incredible coastline returns to the global spotlight this summer with Royal St George’s hosting The 149th Open Championship. A major part of England’s golf heritage, St George’s offers a fundamentally traditional experience as well as one of the finest links layouts in the world.
Its 7,204-yard, par-70 links has evolved into a sprawling maze where holes scamper in all directions, evoking the feeling of a wild sense of space. Natural amphitheatres created by the dunes and rugged terrain provide the backdrop for an awe-inspiring test with no two holes alike. The course roams through mammoth dunes, especially the thrilling stretch from four to six, which provides many memorable moments.
Renowned as one of the finest courses in the world, golfers and visitors alike can walk in the footsteps of history and emulate the greats of the game who have hoisted the Claret Jug here.
Just a few kilometres down the coast road in Deal, Royal Cinque Ports, a traditional out-and-back links dating back to 1892, is of similar calibre. The club played host to The Open twice in the early part of the 20th century and has carved out its own place as one of the country’s most iconic links courses.
With a routing that’s a riot to play, wild green complexes and the prevailing seaside breeze always playing a part, Royal Cinque Ports presents a stern test to lovers of links golf. Located closest to the shoreline of all three courses, Deal, as it is commonly known, provides golfers with picturesque views and challenging shots from tee boxes perched up on the sea wall. The fairways and greens roll fast and undulate through humps and swales, making a flat lie and stock shot a rarity. This is classic links golf of the highest level.
Quaint, medieval Sandwich and quintessentially English seaside town, Deal, provide added incentive to explore England’s oldest county with a variety of cultural and historical attractions as well as sweeping beaches and coastal walks.
In addition to accommodation options in the nearby towns and villages, Princes’ Lodge has capacity for 76 with 38 rooms, suites and apartments offering a hub for travelling golfers to stay and enjoy stunning views across the English Channel and over to the White Cliffs of Ramsgate. The Brasserie on the Bay serves high quality food sourced from local Kentish providers meaning menus are created to coincide with seasonal produce, while the cosy lounge and bar offers a relaxing spot to unwind after a day on the links.
With neighbours Prince’s and Royal St George’s separated only by a fence line, and Royal Cinque Ports a short jaunt down the coast, these three championship courses represent a closely knit trio that rivals any in the world. The history, stories and ever-enduring legacy of these Kent classics continues to evolve while they offer the chance to experience a bucket list golf trip entrenched in history. This summer, the world’s best golfers will descend on the Kent coast for The 149th Open Championship, an event that will live long in the memory following the postponement of the event last summer due to the pandemic. With the likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, and Bryson DeChambeau treading the hallowed St George’s links, the spotlight will be shining bright on the Kent coast as the watching world waits with bated breath to see who will be crowned Champion Golfer of the Year.
And how fitting that, after a year of such uncertainty around the world, the Open Championship should be heading back to a venue so familiar to hosting the prestigious tournament following 14 previous events stretching all the way back to the first of them in 1894. If we can be certain of one thing, it’s that this year’s event looks set to be one to be remembered for years to come as another thrilling chapter is written in golf, and Royal St George’s’, rich and famous history.