England Golf Tour, May 2019
Thanks for following up with regard to our recent fortnight’s golf expedition to Old Blighty.
Frances and I had a superb holiday, playing 13 rounds of golf without having to dodge a single raindrop! Our particular favourites were Sunningdale (with the New Course scoring a notch above the Old), Royal Cinque Ports, St. George’s Hill and the brutally difficult Old Course at Rye. Royal St. George’s is a stern test of golf, with fabulous green and bunker complexes, but it’s a somewhat ordinary piece of land, particularly when compared with the magnificently rumpled terrain of Royal Cinque Ports. Swinley Forest is a beautiful piece of property, and boasts a magnificent clubhouse where we enjoyed a drink on the terrace after our late morning round. Prince’s is a nice piece of links land and is worth playing, but it’s definitely the most junior of the four Kentish courses we played. Venerable Walton Heath has an impeccable pedigree, but playing its two courses is like bashing the ball around in a field. As a matter of interest, I would rate WH dead last among the “A-list” courses we’ve played in Great Britain and Ireland over the past two decades. While the golf courses at WH were disappointing, it was great to hook up with our two Scottish friends, who also played with us the following day at Swinley. FYI, we were treated very well by members and staff at all golfing venues, but the service we received at Sunningdale was, perhaps, the very best: what a day! That said, however, St. George’s Hill was a great experience, both in terms of the golf and the hospitality.
The accommodations were very good, although the Pegwell Bay Hotel is a somewhat tired old Victorian place. Nevertheless, it has a nice bar with a terrific outdoor terrace (both located directly across the street, overlooking the water), and there’s also another restaurant and terrace almost immediately next door. We can also highly recommend ‘Il Tricolore’ in Ramsgate. It’s a very nice family-run Italian place where we ate on three occasions. The hotel was quite nicely situated in terms of proximity to the various courses (about a 30-minute drive on average), although a hotel in Sandwich might be a better bet for most golfers. The principal drawback in Sandwich, however, is the parking, which is in very short supply in the centre of that historic town. Brooklands is a nice modern hotel, located approximately 20 minutes away (on average) from the four Surrey golf courses. It features a very good dining room, and we also dined at an excellent Italian restaurant in Weybridge called ‘La Casa’.
On the sightseeing front, we enjoyed a lovely day strolling along the white cliffs and visiting Dover Castle. We also visited Richborough Roman Fort, which was very interesting. We spent a full day in Canterbury and toured the magnificent cathedral before lunching at a very old pub on the high street.
Our “transition day”, when we moved from Ramsgate to Weybridge, was very relaxing as we spent most of the afternoon puttering through the beautiful Surrey hills, stopping to visit some of its quaint villages; Shere in particular is well worth seeing.
After checking into our airport hotel and dropping off the rental vehicle on the final Saturday morning, we took the Paddington Express into central London. We lunched at ‘The Wallace Restaurant’ and then explored that the collections of that incredible private museum in the afternoon. We dined at a nice restaurant called ‘The Frontline Club” (located near Paddington Station) before boarding the PE for the rail journey back to the airport.
The flight home to the Great White North was uneventful and our national airline carrier managed not to lose any of our luggage!
Many thanks for all your assistance in putting this trip together for us; your yeoman efforts on our behalf, which translated into a wonderfully seamless travel experience, are most appreciated.