Princes Golf Club
Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club
The Royal St. Georges Golf Club
Princes Golf Club
Albion House Hotel
The Bell Hotel, Sandwich
The Blazing Donkey Country Hotel
The Botany Bay Hotel, Broadstairs
The Kings Arms
The Lodge at Princes
The Royal Hotel, Deal
One of England’s Premier Championship Links Trails
Kent’s Championship Links in South East England is considered one of the country’s premier championship links trails. Quite rightly so given the quality, history and tradition of this quintet of courses that hugs the east coast of the county offering stunning panoramas over the iconic white cliffs of Dover and English Channel.
Testament to the excellence of its courses, the Kent’s Championship Links trail has hosted an impressive 17 Open Championships, acted as Open Final Qualifying venues on several occasions and staged numerous professional and amateur tournaments since the 1880s.
The trail is just over an hour and a half away from the international airports of London Heathrow and Gatwick whilst also benefitting from easy access from Europe via the Eurotunnel, Eurostar and port of Dover.
Royal St George’s in Sandwich is probably the most well known amongst golfers as it is regularly featured in the top ten of golf course rankings around the world and since its establishment in 1887, has hosted the Open an impressive 14 times. The first time was way back in 1894 when Royal St George’s was chosen to stage the major the first time it was played outside Scotland.
Since then it has had many notable Open winners including J H Taylor, Harry Vardon, Henry Cotton, Sandy Lyle and Greg Norman whilst the last time it hosted the event, Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke raised the coveted silver Claret Jug.
Designed by William Laidlaw Purves, St George’s is a wild, windy links that is deceptively challenging with severely undulating fairways, tricky greens, blind tee shots and a number of pot bunkers that seem to draw balls into their deep pockets.
Its thatched roof shelters, the red cross of St George on its pin flags and England’s tallest bunker in front of the 4th tee make St George’s both unique and mesmerizing. The clubhouse retains much of its original charm and ambience, with portraits of past captains and golf memorabilia lining the corridor to the Smoking Room to give you a feeling of stepping back in time.
Just three miles away in nearby Deal, Royal Cinque Ports is also considered one of England’s finest championship link. Founded in 1892, the club has had the honour of staging The Open Championship twice, in 1909 and 1920, and over the years has hosted many other notable tournaments including The Amateur Championship (most recently in 2013) and since 1924 has been home to the Halford Hewitt Public Schools Championship, the largest amateur tournament in the world.
This tough links with its undulating fairways can mean tight, hanging lies and awkward stances whilst strong winds can make the back nine one of the most testing stretches in golf.
Royal St George’s neighbour, Prince’s provides yet another great links challenge. It too has hosted The Open Championship back in 1932 and continues to host both professional and amateur competitions, which in the past have included the Curtis Cup and PGA Championship.
Founded in 1906, Prince’s is comprised of three 9-hole loops – The Shore, The Dunes and The Himalayas – that all have their own unique characteristics. A redesign of the course following damage during the Second World War has given it a modern edge with the elimination of any blind tee or approach shots.
Today Princes’ boasts an impressive selection of 97 revetted bunkers, including the now-famous Sarazen Bunker, and deceptive, rolling greens whilst regular breezes off the sea ensure challenging play. The Lodge at Prince’s, with its array of suites and apartments, offers a great base for golfers playing the Golf Coast.
Complementing the golf, Kent houses a range of good quality accommodation from boutique hotels such as Chilston Park and Brandshatch Place of Hand Picked Hotels to the coaching inns of Shepherd Neame that are perfect for travelling golfers.
As England’s oldest county, there is also a plethora of cultural and historical attractions from cathedrals – like Canterbury – to castles – like Leeds, gardens to medieval towns as well as sweeping beaches to coastal walks.
You can also eat well in Kent! Traditionally known for Dover Sole and Whitstable Oysters, the ‘Garden of England’ is also fast developing a name for itself as a destination for gastronomic restaurants to go with its long-standing tradition of producing local ales – Shepherd Neame is England’s oldest brewer – and its growing reputation as a producer of fine wines.