By Landmark Media International
THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP RETURNS to Royal St. George’s Golf Club this week, the only venue in southern England for golf’s most prestigious major championship. This is the 14th occasion the historic links at Sandwich has welcomed the Open—it was the first venue outside of Scotland to host an Open, in 1894—placing Kent, known as The Garden of England, in the world golfing spotlight.
(Photo: The 1st tee, with clubhouse in background, at Royal St. George’s)
Previous winners of the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s include Greg Norman (1993), Sandy Lyle (1985) and golfing legend Walter Hagen (1922 and 1928). American Ben Curtis was the winner of the most recent Open Championship at Sandwich, in 2003.
The club has made changes to the bunkering on its 18th hole to make it more demanding for the Open Championship, as well as adding five new tees and 100 yards of length to the course.
Royal St George’s Golf Club forms part of Kent’s “Regal Golf Coast,” which includes Royal Cinque Ports (venue of the Open Championship in 1909 and 1920), Prince’s (the Open venue in 1932), Littlestone (a Final Qualifying course for the 2011 Open) and North Foreland. Overall there are more than 100 golf courses in the county, which also features modern classics such as London Golf Club (a European Tour Destination and home of the 2009 European Open) and Chart Hills (designed by Sir Nick Faldo and ranked 82nd in Golf World magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the UK and Ireland).
“In many ways, there is an argument to say the Open should come down this way slightly more often than elsewhere because we are the only one in the south,” Royal St George’s Secretary Christopher Gabbey told Kent Golf magazine. “It means a lot to the county. When the Open is in your neck of the woods, it’s terrific.”
More than 200,000 spectators are expected to descend on the Kent coast during Open week, with tens of thousands more from the UK and nearby European countries anticipated to take golf breaks in the county in the months before and after the event.
(Photo: Courtesy of Landmark Media International)