The beautiful dogleg right 6th hole at Royal Cinque Ports
I used to love playing in the Royal Cinque Ports Borough of Deal Challenge Trophy during my later teen years, it is one of the many competitions held during their open week and if you are looking to play this wonderful links course I would highly recommend taking part in that week’s activities.
So you can imagine my excitement as I leave the Lodges at Prince’s and head to Deal to once again tee up on this beautiful stretch of land. Royal Cinque Ports came into being when a group of golfers found this stretch of land and realised they could replicate the classic out and back Scottish Links courses. Originally a 9-hole course designed by Henry Hunter, with the help of James Braid, the course soon became a full 18-hole track.
One of the things I love about Royal Cinque Ports is that it gives you a chance with its wide fairways and with the wind blowing off my right I need all the first fairway could offer and a little more! As my tee shot suddenly gets blown from its centre fairway trajectory to leave me just in the semi rough on the left, and as my second shot disappears into the burn with a hefty splash that runs in front of the green I realise just how strong that wind is.
The second takes you down to the shoreline and the beautiful third with its basin green starts the run of holes along that shoreline. It’s a wonderful stretch of pure links golf with stunning views over to the white cliffs of Dover. There is not one hole you are not going to enjoy and every one is a challenge, from the basin green on the 3rd to the raised green at the 7th, rolling fairways that run in between dunes and par 3s heading straight out towards the sea, your golf game will be challenged on every level no matter the weather.
The ninth takes you up to the halfway hut where a nice hot Bovril and sausage baguette awaits, which I wolf down for some much needed substance to battle the back nine.
The back nine maintains the high standards of the front with some truly stunning holes with the 10th, 16th and 17th being my personal favourites, reading the course planner it would seem that none other than Open Champion Henry Cotton agrees with me and rates the 16th as one of his top eighteen holes in England.
The eighteenth at Royal Cinque Ports has always baffled me and like the first, sixth and the par 3 forth before it, they all have no bunkers to protect them – which would be unheard of in today’s golf course design. But take any of them lightly and you will soon understand that they can handle themselves without need of protection - they don’t suffer fools gladly and can wreck a card if you don’t concentrate. The eighteenth according to the stroke planner has seen its fair share of drama and as I hack my ball out of the deep rough on the left back on to the fairway I can understand why. A moment’s lapse in calculation in how strong the wind was off the right and I am lucky to get away with making five.
The beautiful wood panelled clubhouse awaits you with its assortment of hearty fare and ales and if you get time just check out the trophy display here, especially that Borough of Deal Challenge Trophy. Unfortunately I never got far enough to get my name engraved on there. I may just take up the secretary’s invitation to give it another go this year. But if you decide to play in the Open week or not make sure you put this Royal on your must play list, you will be glad you did.
The punch bowl green 3rd Looking back down 15The tough 16th hole
Homeward bound the 396-yard 17th at Royal Cinque Ports