In less than two years, The 149th Open Championship returns to Royal St. George’s in Sandwich. Much will rightly be made of the famed layout once again serving as ground zero for the world’s finest players competing for sole possession of The Claret Jug. But the story of golf in the greater Kent area goes far beyond the grandeur of RSG’s host role for golf’s oldest major championship.
Kent is roughly two hours by car from central London allowing quick and easy access to the key courses that dot the landscape. The close proximity to the English Channel provides another dimension where water and land intersect in an eye-catching manner. Given the variety of golf and the wherewithal to sample a wide range of activities so near to one another, a visit to Kent is certainly one that delivers in a number of wide ranging ways.
Royal St. George’s
The dunes encountered at RSG truly elevates a course uniformly cited as England’s best. The routing takes you to all corners of the property and the wherewithal to play a wide variety of shots is constantly reinforced. When hosting its 15th Open Championship in 2020, the world of golf will once again see on display one of the finest links courses. The routing is splendidly done and players constantly need to make adjustments as wind velocities can quickly change from all directions. www.royalstgeorges.com/
Royal Cinque Ports
Just a very short drive from RSG is Royal Cinque Ports. The club hosted earlier Open Championships in 1909 and 1920. The 18-hole layout is a traditional links course - following a steady direction going out and returning in the opposite manner. The level of design detail is rightly cited as being among the best 20 courses in England. The last seven holes play back into the prevailing wind, so it is incumbent upon players to score as best on the early holes and hold on for dear life in the home stretch. www.royalcinqueports.com/
Like RSG and RCP, Prince’s is immediately nearby and provides 27-holes of quality golf. The facility hosted The Open in 1932 and recently completed work this year on the Himalayas Nine. Two new holes were created and a complete updating has clearly reinvigorated this fine property. www.princesgolfclub.co.uk
As you head to the southern portion of Kent, be sure to schedule a game at Littlestone. Founded in 1888, Littlestone has hosted a number of key events - including the final stage of Open qualifying in 2011. The course begins with a short par-4 of just 300 yards, but do not assume that a score can be had without proper execution. Matters quickly intensify with the stout par-4 2nd. The ending stretch takes you back parallel to the Channel for a worthy finale. www.littlestonegolfclub.org.uk/
London Golf Club
The facility provides 36-holes from the handiwork of Jack Nicklaus. The International Course is available for outside play and is a fine challenge. For those able to gain access the Heritage 18 is the better of the two. More demanding on the tee game and the greens are also quite finicky, about permitting those with shaky hands to succeed. www.londongolf.co.uk/
Walmer And Kingsdown
Designed by the gifted James Braid in 1909, this pleasant public course provides ideal views to France on clear views from high atop the Dover Cliffs. The layout includes a good mixture of holes with the long par-4 7th a quite demanding challenge. www.kingsdowngolf.co.uk/