Golf Course Review of Princes Golf Club (Shore, Dunes & Himalayas)
Princes Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: Superb understated links makes a great play & stay venue
Our 5 Star Rating: 4.4
It may be located in the far South-East corner of England but as I found out recently a trip to Prince's is well worth a visit.
My first word of advice would be to take a few days to enjoy a place where tradition and history not only meets the demands of modern day golf head on but somehow merges them seamlessly to create a fabulous experience.
In terms of the golf you have three loops of nine holes. They are named Shore, Dunes and Himalayas with the former two comprising their 'championship' layout.
The first thing to say is please do not regard the Himalayas as simply making up the numbers. There are some cracking holes on this nine and, whilst there are a couple of run of the mill ones in the middle part, this is still top class links golf.
The fact there are 27 holes to enjoy, as well as accommodation on site in The Lodge, Prince's is a perfect place to visit for short golf break. Throw into the mix nearby Royal St. Georges and Royal Cinque Ports and you could easily make a week of it down in this remote corner of Kent.
Both the Shore and Dunes loops are similar in the fact that the opening sequences of holes both head out to the furthest point of the property. Out here the land backs directly onto Royal St. George's but the quality of golf at Prince's means you are not even slightly tempted to jump the fence and sneak a few holes at this prestigious Open Championship venue. (OK, well maybe a little bit, but you get the point).
In fact Prince's can lay claim to hosting an Open itself, albeit back in 1932, when Gene Sarazen triumphed. Due to the Second World War the course has changed much since then but it still remains a brilliant test of golf and was deemed worthy by the R&A of staging the Amateur Championship in 2013.
If you start your round on the Shore course and face a head-wind it can feel like an eternity before you reach the second green. The first is a long par four and the second a three-shot par five. However, the exquisite short third, with a wonderful lone bunker protecting the green, provides a momentary breather before you face two more strong holes in the form of par fours with some exceptional bunkering at the former and a fascinating raised green at the latter.
You head back to home starting with two holes that have exposed greens and that fall away to the right before another strong par three comes at the eighth. The Shore nine finishes with one of my favourite holes on the complex. On the face of it the ninth is a relatively straightforward hole but after repeated playing you get to learn its subtleties. It has a beautiful rippling, almost multi-tiered fairway and a generous green that helps gather the ball into the centre of the putting surface.
Dunes also starts with a demanding hole that arches round to the left and is followed by yet another splendid par three, this time played to a smallish green and protected by three deep bunkers. Fairway bunkering at the long third is the main obstacle although out of bounds can come into play down the right, especially if a strong wind is blowing off the sea. The fourth is one of the hardest on the course whilst the fifth is a true highlight as you play between large bunkers, one of which is sleepered, to an elevated green that has the luxury of a back-drop if required.
The inward stretch commences with a brilliantly designed par five. Bunkers must be avoided along the way but it is the long, elevated green on top of a huge dune that makes this hole stand out. And it is followed by yet another majestic par three, possibly the best of the quartet, where the right half of the green should be favoured in order to avoid trouble on the left. The round closes with a 430 yard par four that demands both accuracy and length.
One of the constants at Prince's is the quality of turf around the greens, many of which are raised and have swales and hollows around them that sweep your ball away. The grass is tight and makes chipping (or in many cases putting) a real adventure and extremely fun.
The long drive to the club, along the seemingly endless coastal road, is something that fills you with anticipation as you arrive and one that has a tinge of sadness when you depart, albeit with some fantastic memories and the knowledge that you simply must return one day.
The beauty of Prince's is that it is one of very few links courses that has accommodation on site. There are plenty of inland resort courses with hotels but not many seaside courses can cater for a large group of players away from the course like Prince's can. Here you have it all; 27 holes of top-class links golf, luxury accommodation and award winning dining.
Club Website: www.princesgolfclub.co.uk
Tournaments: Open golf competitions at Princes Golf Club.
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