Royal St George's Golf Club Course Review - Royal St George's - the first English course to host The Open - is just a little different from the other links on the rota

Royal St George’s Golf Club Course Review

Green Fee Range: £100-£190

Medal Tee: Par 70 – 6,630 Yards

Visitor Times: Visitors may play Monday to Friday – fourballs on Tuesday, otherwise two ball golf


Royal St George’s Golf Club Course Review

Royal St George's Golf Club Course Review The unquestionable star of the Kent coast’s triple Open alliance became the earliest English host course when the Claret Jug first ventured south 120 years ago.

JH Taylor won that year, and didn’t break 80 once. In 1993 – 99 years later – Greg Norman became the first champion golfer to shoot four rounds in the 60s.

Darren Clarke won his first major in 2011, the last time St George’s hosted the world’s oldest major.

The links terrain here is imbued with greater character than its immediate neighbours, courtesy of a more rugged dune system and the most rumpled fairways on the Open rota.

But it was these dunes that saw Royal St George’s fall out of Open favour after 1949, as William Laidlaw Purves’ 1887 creation boasted too many blind shots for mid 20th-century tastes.

The classic par-3 6th, for example, was originally a blind par 3 played over the tall dunes to the left of the green where spectators gather during Open week.

Frank Pennink was the man enlisted in the 1970s to make the improvements which would pave the way for an Open return, and although the odd blind test remains – on the 4th and 7th for example – the quirkiest of them are long gone.

Despite a par of just 70 off the tips, and only one par 4 under 400 yards, success at Royal St George’s is still less about power than it is about shrewd golf, and the ability to deal with the odd rogue bounce you will inevitably be dealt.

That remains part of its charm, and those who can rationalise things will know that the luck of the bounce evens itself out over time!

Royal St George’s Golf Club Course Review – Golf Monthly Verdict

Uniquely rumpled fairways are a point of difference among the Open rota links

Rob Smith Visits…

I first played Royal St. George’s many years ago, way before working in golf, and have always been impressed by the majesty and grandeur of everything at the club. It was therefore a real treat to return last Spring to play the course which has subsequently been confirmed as host for The Open in 2020. The following few photos were captured mid-round and hopefully show the style of the course despite the white sky.

This classic links is unrelentingly strong from start to finish with every hole posing its own questions. Running over a vast expanse of unspoiled seaside land, every hole is separate from the others despite the lack of trees.

The undulating green at the fourth hole

With just the one starting point, the course stretches to 7,204 yards from the championship tees with each nine containing one par 5 and two par 3s.

Crumpled links define Royal St. George’s with the eighth and third green providing stark contrast

It would be very hard to pick individual holes as more worthy than others. Ultimately, it is a course of strength in depth and uniformity, with eighteen new and uncompromising challenges.

If the course has a signature hole, which it doesn’t, it is the par-5 fourteenth!

Playing with a fellow Golf Monthly Top 100 panellist, I remember saying as we approached the closing holes that this was not a round I wanted to finish.

The closing hole looks very different without the Open Championship stands

In my view, Royal St. George’s is the very epitome of a classic links; sophisticated, challenging and timeless, it should be on everyone’s list.