My Daily Journal from England - Day 4
You know how sometimes you just go along for the ride with something, having mixed expectations…sort of lacking that total emotional anticipation of something great? Today was very much like that for me… maybe because there was such bemoaning about the horrid weather that was forecasted… or maybe because I simply had not done my normal research and investigation… or was it because I had never heard of the fellow who designed the course (Dr. Laidlaw Purves, in 1887). All I know is that today…. I was absolutely blown away by Royal St. George’s Golf Club (Sandwich). And it had me at hello.
Granted, I’ve been pretty beat up by the heathland courses, as beautiful and well conceived as they certainly are… But I must admit, I was very much looking forward to my return to true “links” golf. And Royal St. George’s might very well be one of, if not THE finest assemblage of links golf I’ve ever experienced. The course was absolutely spectacular… in more ways than I might be able to describe.
Par three 16th…Where Thomas Bjorn faltered, and I made birdie!
Shockingly, I cannot recall a truly weak hole… a gap hole, or anything that proved to be in any way a let down. I’ve played links golf all over Scotland and Ireland… really great stuff and regarded as the very best in the world. But this… this place made me giddy! And that was the buzz among my playing partners as well as every single fellow architect I encountered after the round. We all found new love.
So what makes it special? Gosh… where do I begin? Let’s start with the routing. I guess you can say there are two nine holes loops… one to the south and another to the north, but it really doesn’t play like that. In fact, the holes bounce along randomly… seemingly balancing directional changes in a way that most links courses do not…better than Muirfield. And this is really a unique quality considering the impact of wind. And the greens…. oh my, the greens. Bold and playful, fair and unique…varied and strategic. Some of the most intriguing slopes and features I’ve seen in a set of greens …ever. Landforms… I might tend to overuse the word “playful” but the use of the landscape here is just masterful…dramatic, suspenseful, revealing, strategic and certainly beautiful. The bunkering is very purposeful… sometimes random, but always makes the proper statement.
I don’t know folks… I’m struggling for words to further break this day down. This place really has it all… and I suppose that’s at least part of the reason Sandwich has been a regular stop on the Open Championship rota… more recently in ’93 (Norman), ’03 (Curtis) and ’11 (Clarke). Maybe I need a little more time to reflect, and to study Royal St. George’s… but one thing is for certain (and this is not often the case)… I long for the chance to return and play here again. It was an absolute blast to play!!
The approach at the short par-four twelfth, voted today as the favorite hole… and there were many favorites, to be quite honest.
In case you’re wondering… the favorite hole selected by our group today was #12, the shortest par-4 on the course. At 361 yards, the landforms in the fairway mean everything….yes, landforms. So that is now two out of three days that the twelfth hole has been selected, and once as a runner-up. The middle of the round….fascinating. Tomorrow we’re off to Royal Cinque Ports, another links course, only about three miles down the road from RSG, closer to the seaside town of Deal. And the weather… is supposed to be clear.
Certainly we’ve seen these before on the 4th! The proper line is right between the two bunkers. The 4th green… and as stated by Doug Carrick, the only green in the world where you can have a blind putt! The bold and spectacular fifth hole. The scenery isn’t all too bad either.
And the peek-a-boo approach on the fifth. John Daly drove this green during the Open…amazing. For the rest of us…tee shot position is more critical. Bold contours on the 9th green. Awesome.
A.W. Tillinghast , Architectural Study Tour , ASGCA , Bunkers , Classic Courses , Course Design , Design Elements , Donald Ross , Enjoyable Golf , European Courses , Golf & Travel , Golf and the Landscape , Golf Course Architecture , Golf Course Improvements , Golfing Destinations , H.S. Colt , Heathland Golf , Herbert Fowler , Huntercombe , James Braid , Links Golf , Renovation and Restoration , Royal Cinque Ports , Royal St. Georges , Short Par Fours , St. Enodoc , Strategic golf , Strategic Options , Sunningdale , Surrey , Swinley Forest , The Berkshire , Tom Dunn , Tom Simpson , Walton Heath , Willie Park, Jr. ,