Prince's Golf Club
Despite the wartime damage, it was found possible to incorporate 17 of the original greens into a new layout of 27 holes, plus two practice holes. The 'Shore', 'Dunes' and 'Himalayas' courses, each starting and finishing beside the clubhouse have held competitions and Championships, through several combinations of the courses. There has also been substantial investment in the courses in recent years Princes, in partnership with Troon Golf and European Tour Design, have redeveloped the courses to incorporate additional bunkers, new championship tees, past design features, as well the mammoth challenge of revetting all 97 bunkers across the facility in less than three winters. This includes the famous Sarazen Bunker, opened by Major winner Padraig Harrington, in memory of the late grand slammer Gene Sarazen.
Princes has always been a proprietor owned golf club throughout its rich history. In recent years it has been owned by the McGuirk family, who purchased the business just over 30 years ago, and who are still very much involved with the club today. Michael and Anns sons Robert and Francis are both golf professionals, with Robert the Director of Golf at Princes, whilst his brother is busy playing on the Challenge Tour.
The club has hosted scores of events - including the PGA Championship, won in 1965 by Peter Alliss - and is used as a final qualifying venue for the Open Championship when it is staged at Royal St Georges. Royal St Georges is better known than Princes, having staged more Opens - including last years wonderful triumph for Darren Clarke - but some might argue that Princes is even more attractive to play. Its three loops of nine holes of classic links golf are perfectly groomed and maintained to the highest standard the light soil guarantees play throughout the year and with 27 holes there is plenty of room for the Lodge guests, members and visitors to all play in perfect harmony. The original clubhouse, which is close to the boundary between Princes and Royal St Georges, became derelict after 1985 once the new clubhouse was completed. The new clubhouse was refurbished for the 2003 Open Championship, expanding the Princes suite as well as offering additional function facilities. The old clubhouse sat dormant during this time until it was badly damaged by fire in 2008. Just two years ago, planning permission was obtained to turn the original clubhouse buildings into apartments, bedrooms and suites at the renamed Lodge at Princes. There are now 12 apartments in the Lodge houses - which opened in time for the 2011 Open, which all have two bedroom suites, perfect for the stay and play golfing break. The Lodge at Princes has just fully opened, with the old clubhouse now transformed into a small boutique hotel with 12 deluxe bedrooms and two outstanding suites the Links and the Bay. The Lodge is also the home to the Brasserie on the Bay restaurant, which offers full a la carte dining to residents and visitors.
All the loops of nine start and finish close to the clubhouse, and there is a well appointed range with a couple of covered bays for the winter. GolfResortsDirect caught up with general manager John George, who joined 15 months ago, having previously spent 10 years at Eastwell Manor near Ashford.
'I love Princes - the seasons reveal a different beauty each day. Savage seas, and calm hot summer days are all well suited to this fabulous place. We have a great owner who is happy to give guidance, but for the main part allows us to get on with managing and developing the business. He is also not fazed by the considerable investment required to run a golf complex of this style. Troon Golf has done a terrific job over the last couple of years, with their agronomy expertise delivering great improvements to the conditioning of the course. Troons agronomist Simon Doyle visits every 6 7 weeks and works closely with Sean McLean, the projects manager and head greenkeeper Nick Chidwick, who has been at the club for over 30 years.'
Nick manages all aspects of the day-to-day operation of the courses, while Sean is charged with rebuilding bunkers, paths, reconstruction of tees and remodelling of fairways, etc. There are ten greenkeepers in total at Princes. They have been involved with the recent overhaul of the course, including the extensive bunker programme, with almost a hundred of the existing bunkers rebuilt in the traditional way revetted bunkers are harder to escape from and add some real teeth to the difficulty of the three nines. Soon work will begin on a vast putting green next to the Lodge.
Anthony Tarchetti is the head professional, and there are a total of 12 attached professionals at Princes, including some well-known life members. David Holder and Richard Perkins are both PGA professionals and now work in a more administrative role with the marketing and promoting of Princes as a top venue for visiting golfers and societies.
It is a big operation, with a staff of around 80, all involved in delivering excellent golf to a large number of people. The close proximity to the Channel Tunnel ensures that there are numerous Continental visitors, with France, Belgium, and Holland accounting for much of their custom.
Princes is very proud of its eco-friendly credentials, as John George explains...
'We reuse all of the water from the Lodge and clubhouse and only use organic produce such as wetting agents on the course. The new Lodge is a leading example of sustainable development and the local planning authority is keen to show other developers our facility to encourage extra attention to detail. With such an historic site, it is vital that we work very carefully with the environment to preserve the essence of the original course and all its characteristics.'
The new accommodation is very stylish and perfect for any visiting golfer. Each apartment and suite has a charging point for electric trolleys, a place for dirty golf shoes, and a specific golf bag holder by the door. The rooms are mainly set up as twin occupancy to suit those on a golfing break, with the two bedroom apartments catering elegantly for any type of four ball.
The Gallery is full of great memorabilia from Princes illustrious past. The McGuirks are mindful of the place that Princes holds in the history of golf in the UK. There are marvellous displays, sepia photos and memorabilia adorning many of the walls of both clubhouse and Lodge. Some of the more important antiquities are carefully stored in the Gallery at the Lodge and may be viewed on request. Salvers, trophies and putters donated by great champions and characters from yesteryear are on show alongside some of the more fragile heirlooms, which are being preserved in secure, air conditioned cabinets for golfing historians to enjoy now, and in years to come. It is a glorious display and well worth making a special visit for those interested in our golfing past.
Golfers are always keen to grab a light snack between rounds and enjoy a good meal after play. This is never more ably catered for than at Princes, with head chef Michael Fowler overseeing all the food throughout the site. He trained under Marco Pierre White and Rick Stein, and is leading a culinary revolution at Princes, covering everything from the delicious sausage rolls to full a la carte catering. Michael uses local companies to supply all the produce at Princes with the Sandwich Sausage Company, a local butcher, supplying the Princes sausage to Michaels specification. Locally sourced fish is a particular favourite of the restaurants. There are a host of options in the local pubs and restaurants around the Sandwich area, but more golfers and visitors are opting to dine at Michaels leading Brasserie on the Bay restaurant, which is trying to achieve two AA rosettes.
Food and Drink
Golf Tuition and Practice Facilities
Enquire & Book Direct
Tel: +44 0 1304 611118
All prices quoted are subject to change and availability. Please contact the resort directly to confirm all costs, dates and booking arrangements.
Prince's Golf Club
Nearest airport: Gatwick Airport
Travel options: Less than two hours drive from central London, with excellent rail connections, a short drive from Gatwick Airport and surrounded by several exceptional Links courses - this is the ideal venue for Links fanatics.
- Covered Bays
- Video training