The Takeaway: Sandwich, as locals call it, is worthy of its spot on the British Open rota due to its links location, often windy conditions, and the stiff test it delivers. While not having as many inspiring views that the other top tier links courses deliver, RSG features undulated fairways and separation between fairways to offer a unique experience on each hole. Grade A-
Designer: William Laidlaw Purves in 1887
Cost: £100.00 - £190.00 Click for current rates
Phone Number: 01304 613090
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Royal St. Georges Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Clubhouse, Sandwich, Kent, UK CT13 9QB
Accolades: Ranked 2nd in England by Golf Course Gurus.
What to Expect: Located on the sea southeast of London, Royal St. George's has long been in the discussion of the best courses in England and certainly in the greater London area. The course is characterized by undulated fairways and greens on a property that is otherwise relatively flat. With full exposure to the sea, Royal St. George's is vulnerable to the winds that frequently come off the ocean and create challenging conditions that are perfect for hosting the British Open Championship which is why the course is part of the rota. Perhaps one of the strongest features at Sandwich is the variety of holes throughout the course and the distinct feeling they each have. The way the dunes are integrated with the undulated fairways provide a beautiful and natural blend to the property that is perfect for links golf. The stretch of holes from #4 - #8 is undeniably brilliant and affords the best views of the sea which will stick in the golfer's mind for many years as they look back upon their round at Sandwich. With a loose figure eight routing, the course enjoys a variety of shapes and directions of holes which proves to provide lasting appeal for members and visitors alike. You'd be hard pressed to find a more demanding test considering the overall length, undulated fairway and greens, and frequent winds that test players mentally as much as physically. The walking course has caddies available for employment as well as trolleys, but a buggie is only allowed with a doctor's letter. With a history steeped in Open championship tradition and one of the most pure links experiences in England, Royal St. Georges is certainly a must play.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 6th Hole – 176 Yard Par 3 – "The Maiden" is the second par three on the front nine and is simply a gem. Surrounded by dunes, the green rests in a wonderfully natural setting with four bunkers complimenting the large dunes and two-tiered green. On a windy day the wise player will take two extra clubs and hit a three-quarter punch shot that keeps the ball protected by the dunes rather than skying a ball in the air that can get tossed to and fro and end up in a location you wish you wouldn't have found yourself in. A hole that can yield its share of birdies, this one-shotter also had more double bogies scored on it than any other par three during the 2011 Open.
Best Par 3: 11th Hole – 242 Yards – Playing back out towards the ocean, the 11th is a visually attractive hole that features five bunkers around the green. There isn't a lot of room short to run the ball up onto the putting surface so you'll need to carry your tee shot most of the way in. Mounding behind the green can help slow down a shot coming in hot, but going beyond the mounds will result in a nasty lie that will be difficult to recover from. This hole has plenty of length, but the fact that it generally plays downwind should help you out.
Best Par 4: 5th Hole – 416 Yards – The most unique hole on the course and your first exposure to the sea, the 5th is memorable from start to finish. The elevated tee provides an inviting look at the fairway and a clear view of the three bunkers down the left side. A sub-250 yard tee shot down the center of the fairway will keep you from running through the dogleg before the hole turns left and traverses through dunes that can block your view of the green depending on where your tee shot lands. The bunkerless green makes for a welcoming approach which is a nice counter design to the partially obstructed view you'll have going in. I really like this hole. The elevated tee offers a great view of the hole and sea, the bunkering adds strategic challenges other than around the green, and the dunes midway through the fairway add character that is unique to most designs.
Best Par 5: 15th Hole – 545 Yards – The northern boundary of the course is set by the 14th hole with o.b. running up the entire right side. When playing downwind, golfers may not want to hit driver as a burn 325 yards down the fairway can suddenly come in play. The flat fairway will yield a great lie and can encourage players to try and reach the green in two with a pair of bunkers on the left side of the putting surface standing as the main obstacle to avoid. Players that keep it up the left side on their approach to avoid the o.b. could be faced with a ticklish chip over the left bunkers to a sloping putting surface that will require some backspin to get it close to the hole. During the 2011 Open Championship, this hole played slightly over par while the only other par five (#7) played nearly a half stroke under par. Be smart in how you attack this hole and take advantage of some of the flattest terrain you'll find at Royal St. George's.
Birdie Time: 16th Hole – 161 Yard Par 3 – Despite the seven bunkers that encircle the green, some of which aren't visible from the tee, this hole gives players a great opportunity to score well simply because you'll have a low iron in your hand and your confidence rising. A little left or long are good misses as they can bring balls back towards the center of the green and set up a nice look at birdie. During the 2011 Open Championship this hole yielded more birdies and less bogeys than any of the other one-shotters so use that as your inspiration to hit one tight and take a stroke back from the course.
Bogey Beware: 4th Hole – 496 Yard Par 4 – At nearly 500 yards and only four strokes available to hole out in order to secure a par, the 4th hole is as stiff of a test as RSG can throw at you. From the tee players have two bunkers staring back at them with the one on the right looming tall in the middle of a dune. Players that take the safe route left of the bunkers need to avoid the small fairway bunker on that side that is bowled and sucks balls into its depths. Bold players can attack the right side by taking a rip over the dual bunkers to a blind landing area while ensuring to carry it 265 yards to clear the rough. Players rolling the dice up the right side will be rewarded with a superior angle into the green while those going up the left side will have an uneven lie and an angle that is the envy of no man with sloping edges on the green awaiting. Approach shots that come up short are deposited in the valley of sin with a difficult proposition of getting up and down in two while going off the back of the green quickly becomes an out of bounds penalty. Without a doubt, this is one of the best tests in championship golf.