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Golf Course Reviews - Europe

Royal St. George's Golf Club

Name: Royal St. George's Golf Club
Location: Sandwich, Kent , England
Par: 70
Length: 7204 yards
Holes: 18

Royal St. George's Golf Club

In 1885, doctor William Laidlaw 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.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 13 Open Championships. This was the first Open to be played outside Scotland.(Visit the club’s website and read the excellent synopsis of their Open history.)

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. 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 the flags, and that bunker on the 4 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”.
Royal St. George's Golf Club
The par three 6 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 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 upslope or a down slope, then one needs to hit a long iron or fairway wood into the green from an uneven lie.

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.

Dr Laidlaw Purves of the Royal Wimbledon Golf Club, designed and established the Royal St George's Golf Club in 1887. The Club was intended to serve the needs of London golfers who were only able to play their golf on often crowded and unkept courses in the area. Named St. George's, it was to become the English rival to Scotland's St. Andrew's.

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.

Visit the Royal St. George's Golf Club's website:Royal St. George's Golf Club


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