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THE ROYAL CINQUE PORTS GOLF CLUB
DEAL, KENT

 

Travel North from Deal town centre to the mouth of the river Stour where the Emperor Claudius landed his legions in ad43 and you will find 8 miles of the finest golfing country in the United Kingdom. Royal Cinque Ports, Royal St George’s and Princes provide three of the finest tests of links golf. The Open Championship was first held outside Scotland at Royal St Georges in 1892 and since then the three courses have hosted no less than 15 of the 43 occasions on which the championship has ventured South of the Border.


Andrew Reynolds on the left – Golf Club Pro
Jack Asher – President
Michael Coffey – Golf Club Sec
On Tuesday, 3rd July, I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in a press day including golf. Who could refuse such an invitation to play this classic seaside links. The day itself, whether by chance or due to the good offices of President Jack Aisher, Club Captain, retired ferry captain Bob Blowers, Andrew Reynolds the long serving energetic Club Professional or Colin Hammond the industrious Secretary of Cinque Ports, was a classic English summers day, hot and sunny without a cloud in the sky and just enough of a sea breeze to make the closing stretch from the 12th a true test of Deal’s demands.

Although nine years older than the Queen Mother who is the Warden of the Cinque Ports, Deal or to give it its proper name, The Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club is energetic and forward thinking in this first year of the new millennium and at a course that was predominantly for singles or foursome play only, now promotes mainly on Tuesdays and Thursdays excellent four-ball packages to include food and golf. Full details of these and of the course itself, how to get there and who to contact etc can be found on the Club’s comprehensive website at http://www.royalcinqueports.com.

After an excellent breakfast we had the use of the Club’s driving range, putting green, chipping and pitching area under the vigilant eye of Andrew Reynolds. We could have our swings videoed and subsequently analysed (in my case not a pretty sight) and then we played some competitive golf. Led by Andrew Reynolds who strikes the ball magnificently, our group comprising seven handicapper, Michael Coffey a member of the R&A and publisher of The Golf Club Secretary, Paul McKinley an eleven handicap player who hits the ball out of sight and produces score cards and printed material for Golf Clubs throughout the UK and Europe and your scribe led the rest of the field. With two scores out of four to count we were pleased with our score of 85 points. Until you play Deal you’ll never know how good it is. Laid out in traditional links style – it’s greens are fast and true.
Aerial view looking South from Sandwich Bay to Deal Town
On the outward nine there are some fine views of the channel. Henry Longhurst once wrote that putting on the 6th at Deal was almost impossible with all the passing shipping. We led for a while until a three-ball but still with two scores to count of Linda Bayman, who equalled the ladies course record by going round in 70 supported by Sue Severn and well known golf writer Dale Concannon produced an 86. However, the final three-ball of Ian Mason, a five handicap player from Royal Cinque Ports, Arthur Severn and Jamie Head who produces the Essex County Golfer produced a magnificent score of 91 Stableford points. It is worth recording that the local player went round in 76, Arthur Severn off nine returned a 78 and perhaps even more remarkable, Jamie Head with a handicap of thirteen (which one hopes has been adjusted) returned a gross score of 77.

We were welcomed to the Club by President Jack Aisher who has given so much in every sense of the word to The Royal Cinque Ports and after an excellent lunch, Captain Bob Blowers and Club Professional Andrew Reynolds then told us of the clubs exciting plans for the future. Deal is amongst the foremost clubs in deciding that men and ladies should have equal rights and having put the appalling last winter’s weather behind them, Royal Cinque Ports was moving forward with new and innovative ways of improving the Club’s finances.


The Clubhouse
It was appropriate that John Hopkins of the Times should respond on behalf of the guests. The last time the Open Championship was held at Deal in 1920, the then golf correspondent of the Times wrote: "Royal Cinque Ports is probably one of the most difficult links courses in the British Isles and is worthy to host any Open Championship". In thanking the Club for the opportunity to play the course, and sample
the hospitality of the clubhouse, John reminded us that many Clubs advertise how wonderful they are whereas they are really little more than mutton dressed as lamb. Deal however is truly one of the finest golf courses in the British Isles and should blow their trumpet and let the rest of the world know just how good they were.

A day of great enjoyment not just for the golf and one which this correspondent will remember for a many months to come with fond memories.