Despite playing in the rain for 20 of the 27 holes this past weekend, I absolutely love the three loops here. They are such a fantastic mix of holes that you never really get bored of the course!
I need to start with the drive to the clubhouse, driving past Royal Cinque Ports and then right by Royal St. George’s only gets you even more excited for whats to come and especially knowing you have 27 holes coming instead of 18!
We played the newly renovated Himalayas, then the Shore, and then finally the Dunes.
The first thing I noticed about the first hole on the Himalayas was trees! I was surprised to see trees and this instantly reminded me of Formby which too is on the coast but has a few holes with some trees on them. A perfect dogleg right to start the day with a very well hidden pot bunker off the tee in the middle! Its so small from the tee that I initially thought it was a yardage marker! The second hole is a newly converted Par-4 and Par-3 into a sweeping dogleg left Par-5! The landing area is very tight and anything left is lost in a ditch or in a field. The sandy scrapes all over this loop are perfect and I love the fact they have small little sea shells in them that just add to the fact that you are indeed playing on the coast! I won't go into hole by hole detail but I will say that there is a definite penalty on nearly every hole for missing the green on the wrong side. You will often find yourself six to ten feet below the green and sometimes about thirty feet away.
Something else I noticed was that this was an incredibly narrow course off the tee; on either side of the fairways you either have natural sandy scrapes, or a brook, or thick fescue. I very much enjoyed this 9 and thought the holes were superb, especially the two Par-5’s, they are both long and have very difficult second shots. The course needs to bed in a tiny bit more to become completely natural but it genuinely seems like the holes have been there for years.
On to the Shore loop now and this has a definite links feel for me; bumpy fairways, pot bunkers, and greens just begging for a good ground game. This loop plays in the opposite direction to the Himalayas and some holes are entwined with the Dunes loop so be wary of playing the correct hole next. This loop does not have the beautiful natural sandy scrapes that the Himalayas has but more than makes up for that by having wonderfully placed pot bunkers which in themselves are oddly beautiful against the greens and fairways. I noticed for the first time in a lot of golf rounds that on almost every hole, I had a fairway bunker in play. This is quite rare and must be a part of the courses I play usually around London but it was great to have to stand on each tee and have a mental battle with yourself over which club to take. The Shore nine takes you right to the far end of the Property and takes you to The Lodge and also just shy of Royal St. Georges. It is very peaceful here and you feel like you are away from the bustle of the clubhouse and numerous putting and chipping greens. Again, this loop has a fantastic combination of short and long Par-4’s and some very tricky long Par-4’s. You really need to manage where you miss and it is rare for me to play a course and think like this. Some would argue that it is a negative mentality; where am I going to miss this shot? but in actual fact, it greatly helps your score.
Take hole number six for example; long straight hole where the green is kinked slightly to the left but still plays parallel to direction of play. Anything to the right of the green finds the ball rolling down a steep fall off a good ten feet below the hole where the best shot is either a putt or a chipped 8-iron into the bank. If you aim your second shot to the left, you will roll around the edge of the banked green and stay on the shelf rather than rolling down the run off. The same can be said for numerous holes, especially the Par-3's.
For me though, my favourite loop was the Dunes. This nine has a few Par-4's where I could have spent hours just hitting a complete range of approach shots into the greens! The fairways are a bit wider off the tee and the green complexes are second to none, especially the holes along the boundary of the property and towards Royal St. Georges. They are undulating and play longer than the yardage. It felt very peaceful in this area of Prince's which is probably why I like it the most.
I will say that Prince's has a fantastic set of Par-3's amongst a brilliant set of Par-4's and 5's. All the holes offer a great mixture of long and short approaches and most of the time you will have an awkward stance. The double green on the Himalaya's is so much fun! You are not as close to the coast for the majority of holes yet you never lose sense that you are playing a classic Links course. It's location, right by Deal and Sandwich has its advantages amongst the obvious disadvantage; over shadowed by its more famous neighbours but as a result it is quiet and will always surprise you with how excellent it is.
7 or 8 years ago I played there in gail force winds and pouring rain. Still the course was in great condition!
With 27 holes, good accommodation on course and Royal St Georges as their neighbour it's definitely worth a visit(if you like links golf that is...). Once they played the British Open there as well!