From the moment Dr Laidlaw Purves spied an ideal piece of linksland from the top of a Sandwich church tower golf was destined to play an important role on the east Kent coast. The club was founded in 1887 and named for St George, England's answer to Scotland's home of golf at St Andrews.
But Royal St George's, as the club became in 1902 by decree of King Edward VII, has hosted the Open on 13 occasions and become the south of England's only regular venue for the most important championship in golf. Indeed, in 1894 Sandwich hosted the first ever Open to be played outside of Scotland. One of the game's great players, JH Taylor, was the victor and said of the course that "the possibility of disaster was only too apparent on almost every shot." Harry Vardon won two of his record six Open titles here and the flamboyant American Walter Hagen also triumphed twice.
There was another strong leaderboard in 2003, with Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, Davis Love and Nick Faldo all in contention. Thomas Bjorn almost won before taking three shots to extract himself from a bunker at the short 16th. In the end the unheralded Ben
Curtis took the title, a huge surprise although the American from Kent, Ohio, has gone on to be a multiple winner on the US PGA Tour and a Ryder Cup player.
But the course's finest testimonial was provided by the great golf writer Bernard Darwin, who wrote: "Sandwich has a charm that belongs to itself… the long strip of turf on the way to the seventh hole, that stretches between the sand-hills and the sea; a fine Spring day, with the larks singing as they seem to sing nowhere else; the sun shining on the waters of Pegwell Bay and lighting the white cliffs in the distance; this is as nearly my idea of heaven as is to be attained on any earthly links."