The Deal Course at Royal Cinque Ports is one of three superb links courses located on the far eastern side of Kent. Of the others, Royal St. George's presently hosts the Open Championship, while Princes has never quite recovered from its conversion into an aerial bombing range during World War II (an act compared by Henry Longhurst to "throwing darts at a Rembrandt"). The setting for the Deal is not quite as stunning as that for St. George's, but it is a fine layout nonetheless. The course plays nine holes out and nine back; if you're lucky, the shift in the tide will give you a tailwind both ways; just be sure to avoid the opposite situation. The club is the original setting for the Halford Hewitt Cup, a unique competition for which, since 1924, each of the venerable schools has fielded a team of ten, regardless of the weather.
Played 36 here on one day and played almost two entirely different courses. It is a very traditional "Out and Back" golf course and the wind is what makes this course a real brute. The front 9 holes are generally played with the wind helping you. This is not necessarily as easy as one might think; hitting an iron to land down wind on a table-top green and stop is not an easy feat. The greens all have smaller greens within them and I actually was so far away from one flag that I opted to play a chip with a mid-iron.
Speaking of the greens, the green complexes are simply a think of beauty. They each provide so many different ways of getting to the hole. On the Par-5 3rd, I hit a putt straight at the hole dead weight, I hit the same putt four times harder and watched it speed past the hole and up a ridge then slowly take a small U-turn and come straight back to the hole, and another attempt where I putted from the same place and went almost away from the hole and saw the ball take a long curve along a bowl and sweep back to the hole. I would like to add that each time I was left with a similar length second putt.
The greens themselves were incredibly true and classic links; slower than your Oakmont or Augusta but when played down wind, they seemed just as fast! The ball never wobbles off line the greens are that true.
The holes along the sea wall are majestic and very beautiful while the back 9 are where the course shows its teeth. Into the prevailing wind the last 9 are all par-4's apart from the 221yd 14th. The closing stretch feels like you are playing one hole that is a couple of miles long....and you wouldn't have it any other way! Driving a long iron that bores through the wind and bounces short of the green is something a golfer can never tire of. Especially seeing the ball hit a slope and careen towards that days hole location, or the feeling of angst if the ball goes the other way away from the hole!
There were too many holes of a very high calibre, both architecturally and playability to mention but it is safe to say that this course deserves the right to no longer sit in Royal St. George's shadow. This course is able to stand amongst the very best on its own right.
The Clubhouse is large and very old fashioned with an excellent changing room and lovely balcony with a telescope where you can see golfers at the far end of the property.
I am fortunate to say I have just joined this prestigious club as a Halford Hewitt Member and look forward to making the most of the Club and getting to know the intricacies of the course even more as I play it. I know my short game will improve, especially my chipping to slightly raised bowl greens!