Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club Course Review

This strong links heads out along the sea wall before turning for home on 12 and asking big questions of your game all the way to the clubhouse

Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club
The 4th hole (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

This strong links heads out along the sea wall before turning for home on 12 and asking big questions of your game all the way to the clubhouse

Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 53

Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 58 2017/18 - 56 2015/16 - 56 2013/14 - 47 2011/12 - 47 2009/10 - 52

Summer Green Fees

Round: £175 Mon-Thu, £200 Fri-Sun; Day: £205 Mon-Thu, £230 Fri-Sun

Visitor Times: Every day, check with club for details – twoballs only except Monday and Thursday

Medal Tee: Par 71 – 6,623Yards

Website: (opens in new tab)

Changes since previous ranking

Significant changes to the 3rd and 16th holes were made in 2019, with Martin Ebert overseeing the improvements. The 3rd tee has been moved across to the left-hand side of the 2nd green and elevated to give a stunning view right down the hole. The tee is surrounded by a striking sand scrape.

The 16th has now been restored to a longer par 5 rather than a very challenging par 4, with the tees going back 60 yards. The split fairway offers a new elevated option on the left for a better view of the green.

The fairway is lined with large rough-edged bunkers. A new short-game area, also designed by Ebert, features two greens and three bunkers to enhance the club’s practice facilities.

Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club Course Review

Along with Royal St George’s and Prince’s, Royal Cinque Ports is one of three Open Championship links in our Top 100 that lie almost back-to-back on the Kent coast between Sandwich and Deal.

Founded in 1892, the original nine-hole links had grown to a full 18 by the turn of the century. James Braid, Henry Cotton, and most recently, Martin Ebert, have been involved in its evolution over the years.

Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club

The green on the 8th lies close to the sea wall (Photo: Jason Livy)
(Image credit: Jason Livy)

The Open visited in 1909 and 1920 and was scheduled for two further stagings in 1938 and 1949. Sadly, both were thwarted when easterly winds and high tides inundated the course.

Related: Top 100 Courses UK and Ireland

Hugging the sea wall

The links follows a broadly out-and-back routing north of the town of Deal, with one or two deviations along the way, among them a St Andrews Old Course-style loop at the far end.

The outward nine heads north, hugging the sea wall closely in places, nowhere more so than the green on the short but tempting par-4 6th, which sits atop a steep bank right beside the sea wall

Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club

The sunken green on the par-5 3rd (Photo: Jason Livy)
(Image credit: Jason Livy)

There are some cracking moments in among the taller dunes over this stretch, among them the par-5 3rd, which plays semi-blind to a fascinating sunken green set in a hollow. This hole was remodelled recently by Ebert with the fairway re-aligned further to the left.

The four holes from the 8th play back and forth in more of a west-to-east and east-to-west direction to potentially unsettle your rhythm, with the run for home from the 12th into the prevailing wind as tough as you’ll encounter anywhere. Choose your tees wisely!

Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club

The 16th has morphed into a par 5 with a split fairway (Photo: Jason Livy)
(Image credit: Jason Livy)

In this stretch you’ll find another of Ebert’s recent changes on the cracking par-5 16th, formerly a long par 4.

A major facelift here has seen the re-introduction of a long-lost split fairway allowing an alternative final approach from a more elevated position on the left side.

Assessor Feedback

It had been 15+ years since I’d last played here and I had honestly forgotten how good it is!

The best holes are concentrated in what you might call the ‘central’ section of the course (holes 3-8 and 12-17). The rolling terrain in this part of the links has paved the way for some wonderful green complexes, such as the punchbowl 3rd, the raised plateau 6th and the rollercoaster 16th.

GM Verdict

This strong links heads out along the sea wall before turning for home on 12 and asking big questions of your game all the way to the clubhouse.


Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response