There are almost 100 courses in Kent that you can play in ‘the Garden of England’. Whilst this picturesque area of South East England is home to many great golf courses, you’ll be hard pushed to find three better links golf courses anywhere in the world than Royal Cinque Ports, Prince’s and Royal St George’s. They provide a rare opportunity to play three golf courses that have hosted The Open Championship and are revered as a top golfing experience.
Royal St George’s Golf Club
The first Open Championship to be played outside of Scotland was held at Royal St George’s in 1894. This par-70 layout has now been extended to over 7,000 yards and with the vast majority of holes just moments from the sea, many of the holes are a stern challenge courtesy of many undulations, sloping greens and a well-placed bunker or two.
Considered by many to be one of the best examples of golf in England, Royal St George’s is a test that has stood the test of time, welcoming many notable major champions during it’s years as an Open Championship host. Darren Clarke claimed The 2011 Open Championship at Sandwich for one of it’s most memorable Open tournaments with Clarke managing a four round total of 275 which was enough for a 3 shot victory over Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson. Other Open winners at Royal St. George’s Golf Club include Greg Norman, Sandy Lyle, Walter Hagen and Harry Vardon with the latter two claiming two titles at this spectacular links golf course.
The 149th Open took place in July 2021, offering the world’s best golfers an opportunity to experience the jewel in Kent’s golfing crown.
Open Champions at Royal St George’s
- Darren Clarke (2011)
- Ben Curtis (2003)
- Greg Norman (1993)
- Sandy Lyle (1985)
- Bill Rogers (1981)
- Bobby Locke (1949)
- Reg Whitcombe (1938)
- Henry Cotton (1934)
- Walter Hagen (1922, 1928)
- Harry Vardon (1899, 1911)
- Jack White (1904)
- J.H. Taylor (1894)
Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club
Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club is the third Kent Royal in this trio and RCP is certainly one not here to make up the numbers. With the two nines going in different directions, the weather and wind can be hugely important to trying to score well here and taking on the challenge of a golf course that dates back to 1892.
Deal has been extended to over 7,300 yards from the black tees and 7,010 yards from the white tees against it’s par of 72 and is every bit as formidable for golfers heading here today as it was for it’s two Open Championships, the last being in 1920 which was won that year by George Duncan.
Royal Cinque Ports is often paired with Royal St Georges in an amateur tournament previously The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup at Deal and The St George’s Champion Grand Challenge Cup, past winners include Jack Nicklaus, and is now The South East of England Links Championship where the world’s best amateurs head to the county of Kent to do battle over these two fine layouts.
Open Champions at Royal Cinque Ports
- George Duncan (1920)
- J.H. Taylor (1909)
Prince’s Golf Club
In 1932 the Open Championship visited Prince’s for what would prove to be the first and only time as Gene Sarazen set a new scoring record of 283 using the newly invented sand wedge. The present-day 27 hole course is the result of a 1950 re-design following wartime damage to the original layout which was re-designed and rebuilt by Sir Guy Campbell and John Morrison.
Golfers heading to Prince’s are in for 27 holes of stunning links golf. The newly re-designed Himalayas 9 has received rave reviews, talking the old layout and rejuvenating it into something truly memorable. Whilst The Shore and The Dunes were considered to be the stronger 18, many are now heading back to The Himalayas as their preference due to it’s layout and playability regardless of handicap.
A regular stop for both professional and amateur events, with anything from local PGA events to Regional and Final Qualifying for The Open Championship as well as The Amateur Championship in 2013 and 2017, the course is considered to be a top-quality test of golf that is rightly placed within The Top 100 Golf Courses in the UK and Ireland.
Open Champions at Prince’s Golf Club
- Gene Sarazen (1932)
Other golf courses to play in Kent
It would be easy to stop at The Open trio when thinking about your next golf trip in Kent. But, thankfully, there are many more great golf courses in this area waiting to explore.
If links are on the agenda, Littlestone Golf Club, another course used in regional and final qualifying for The Open, North Foreland and Walmer and Kingsdown are all firm favourites to play. Knowle Park, laid out by famed architect J.F. Abercromby, who also designed Bovey Castle, Coombe Hill, Worplesdon and The Addington, presents a stunning challenge set around the picturesque Knowle estate, complete with National Trust property and deer park.
Wildernesse is a tree-lined golfing paradise that is a regular stop for both professional and elite amateur tournaments in the region. The London Club is home to 2 golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and provide a championship golf experience that has hosted The European Tour on numerous occasions. Another popular golf course in Kent is found at Chart Hills Golf Club. The course was recently acquired by the same family who own Princes Golf Club so have set about a grand investment plan to elevate the Sir Nick Faldo designed golf course that has a high degree of risk and reward with strategically placed water and some of the largest bunkers in England.