Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club

The Cinque Ports name is derived from a confederation of maritime towns and villages in Kent and East Sussex dating back 1000 years.

Before the English navy was established, the men and ships of five ports and some subsidiary smaller ports provided military support and transportation on behalf of the Tudor crown for which they were granted certain privileges. It is very much the cradle of the Royal Navy.

Royal Cinque Ports Golf Course, often known as Deal is a world-ranked course. It hosted its first Open Championship in 1909. The rota at that time read: 1910 St Andrews, 1911 Royal St George’s, 1912 Muirfield, 1913 Royal Liverpool, 1914 Prestwick and 1915 Royal Cinque Ports.

In fact, the 1915 Open was cancelled due to the first World War. It was played in 1920. Deal was awarded the Open in 1938 but significant flooding from remarkably high tides left the course several feet deep in water.

The Open was assigned to Royal St. George’s. The opportunity was taken during repairs to make several improvements. Deal was allocated the 1942 Open but as in 1915, war intervened. In 1948, Deal was invited by the R&A to host The Open in 1949 and possibly the Ryder Cup.

However, following a night of 80 m.p.h. north westerly gales, the sea breached the shingle banks again along the links. The Open was again transferred to Royal St George’s. A sea wall was then built to provide security for the links but to date ‘The Open’ has never returned.


History of Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club

The Club was formed in 1892 to be called the “Cinque Ports Golf Club”, Deal. Land was leased for the construction of the 9-hole course and opened for play in May 1892. Henry (Harry) Hunter the greenkeeper designed and constructed the layout and the full eighteen holes were opened in 1899.

In 1899 the  Deal Ladies’ Club was founded with a course of 9 holes behind the Clubhouse. In 1902 the 18 hole course was used for the Ladies’ British Open Amateur, won by Miss May Hazlet of Royal Portrush. The  Ladies also held a three-cornered international contest between England, Ireland, and Scotland.

Deal was awarded the 1909 Open Championship. The course length was 6,581 yards and the winner’s share of the prize fund was £50. J. H. Taylor won with a score of 295 (74, 73, 74, 74), winning by six shots from James Braid and Tom Ball. Taylor had now equalled the record of Braid, Harry Vardon and young Tom Morris of winning four Open Championships.

HRH the Prince of Wales (Later Edward VII) played regularly on his visits to Deal. He was later to become President from 1905 – 1907. He bestowed Royal Patronage on Cinque Ports Golf Club, before his coronation as King George V and the Club had adopted the Royal prefix by October 1910.

The King remained the Club’s Patron and President until his death in 1936. The title of Royal, however, was not formally granted until 1949 by George VI. During the intervening period the title of Royal had been innocently presumed from when the Royal Patronage was granted.

Deal again hosted the Open in 1920. George Duncan won with a score of 303 (80, 80, 71, 72), after being 13 strokes behind Abe Mitchell with two rounds to go. Deal hosted the Amateur Championship for the first time in 1923, which was won by Roger Wethered. 


Royal Cinque Ports Club

7269 yards, Par 72 

The course is a classic ‘out and back’ but the holes vary greatly in orientation and the course is a splendid example of true links. It has a spine of sand dunes across which you are required to play, rather than through them.

Deal cannot be described as a dramatic course, but there is always something to ensure that you never have an easy shot. The fairways have sweeping undulations and flat stances are few. The routing is full of character, demanding a high level of cunning where shot-making skills are required.

Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club is billed as a member's, world-class, two-ball, championship club. One of the quirks at Deal is that all of the par-three holes are even-numbered, which perhaps allows the partner driving odd-numbered holes to achieve a more regular rhythm to their game, for if any score is to be made on this challenging course, accurate driving is essential.

It is an exceptional course when you consider that the wind is invariably a powerful force. Consequently, the course does not require much artificial defence. Normally, playing with the prevailing wind, it is on the front nine where you must make your score.

You must then expect a tough challenge on the homeward stretch where a string of eight par fours on the inward half will require your very best golf. The back nine has always been one of the most testing set of holes in golf and is characterised by more rugged terrain and clever run-off areas around undulating greens, often played into the prevailing south-west wind.

There is just one par three and a series of tough fours along with the wonderful par five sixteenth that adds up to a very long inward half. However, it is not the challenge of length that is the greatest attribute of the course.

This derives from the outstanding set of greens and their surrounds; they are a match for any golfer in the world. Their undulations and to a certain extent, their quirkiness make them a wonderful example of classic seaside links putting surfaces.

The green sites, especially three and sixteen have been described as some of the best complexes in the British Isles, if not the world. So astounding is the strategy, it is grasped instantaneously.

They are often linked directly to the next teeing ground. A little detail that really makes a difference as it seems to perpetuate the flow of the round. Golf architect and writer Frank Pennink said Deal is a links of broken and undulating ground.

I know of no other that has so few level and straightforward approaches to the green. This leads to a certain amount of what is termed target golf on the fairways.

In design Deal is unique. It is said to be the links with a routing most similar to that of St Andrews Old Course. Its holes run out along the seashore and make a loop before returning snugly inland.

The course’s major asset is a longitudinal sand dune, which begins by the second tee, heaving and contorting until reaching its zenith at the sixth green, then dwindling at the eleventh hole.

Play is over and through the landform, giving the golfer a series of haphazard bounces, hanging lies, and challenging putts. Bunkers are sod-faced, revetted monsters whose size is magnified by the surrounding terrain directing errant shots into them.

Royal Cinque Ports clearly suffers from having England’s leading links course as its neighbour, being less than 10 minutes' drive to Royal St George's. The early flooding was also a setback. Situated right on the coast, it is probably rare you will find a calm day at Royal Cinque Ports and the yardages on the card will only count for so much.


Seven Most Memorable Holes of the New Course

Hole 3

566 yards, par 5, index 4

This is for most a three shot hole that asks questions on each shot. The tee shot is best to somewhat level ground short of the right hand side fairway pot bunker.

A second shot can be left of the spectacles just over the dune ridge before a final third to the green. The green is a punchbowl of epic proportions, wielding enormous contours the scale and severity possibly unlike any you have ever seen.

Hole 4

151 yards, par 3, index 18

This is a bunkerless par three with a view of the sea. It is a demanding tee shot from an elevated tee to and angled green. A drive that is too long will find trouble beyond the green. Putting requires steadfast concentration.

Hole 6

323 yards, par 4, index 14 

The tees are alongside the sea wall. It is a wind aided drivable par four that bends left to right over a mammoth mogul to a pulpit green backed hard against the sea wall and adjacent to a pebble beach.

This is a brilliant strategic hole with a few options to consider that make it quite intriguing. Do you go for the green, the apex of the dogleg, or a good approach position. This is a great golfing hole with depth and character.

Hole 14 

219 yards, par 3, index 15

This is an uphill par three that will require a sound drive particularly into a prevailing wind. It is the only par three on the back nine. There are three bunkers on the right of the green.

Hole 16

549 yards, par 4 , index 7

 This is generally considered the best hole on the course. From the tee you need to plot a careful three shots before considering a complex elevated green protected by a large dune. The hole often plays longer because of the prevailing winds. Two cross bunkers need to be carried at just under 210 yards.

The fairway has its share of humps and bumps, which means it is more than likely you will have less than a flat lie for the second shot. The fairway tapers down considerably to a width of roughly 15 yards. Getting your second shot into this narrow sleeve of space can be quite demanding.

With such a fiendishly tough green the sixteenth rejects many approach shots. A frontal pin location is frustrating in its mercilessness with falloffs to both sides for those who push or pull their approaches. The putting surface is actually quite large.

Hole 17

394 yards, par 4, index 17

From the tee, the normal landing area selected is known as Vardon’s Parlour. It is a large hollow on the right-hand side of the fairway from where you will be able to see the top of the flag beyond two yawning cross bunkers but little else. The approach shot is difficult to judge as the green has various slopes.

Hole 18

454 yards, par 4, index 9

From an elevated tee with the burn in play choose a long drive down the right. This will leave a long pitch to a slightly raised plateau green beyond a stream.


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