Royal Cinque Ports

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Timeless But Evolving both course and clubhouse are changing

Course Development Deal's growing reputation as a world class course

Where To Stay When You Play a review of the very best local accommodation

CLUB HISTORY Great names. Great players

FOREWORD by Peter Alliss


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By Peter Alliss I’m delighted to have this opportunity of writing some words about the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club and its place in the history of golf. Although I’ve only become a regular visitor over the last 20 years or so, the club and the two others nestling close by – Royal St George’s and Prince’s – have been often talked about in the Alliss household, because it was there that my father, Percy, played some of his earliest championship golf. It was in 1909 that the Open Championship was first played at Deal and it was won by JH Taylor from the Mid Surrey Golf Club, with the remarkable score of 295 for four rounds. Just think, an average of 74 and a bit, with a bagful of wooden sticks and golf balls that weren’t round, in perhaps very inclement weather, unraked bunkers and greens that were either cut by the greenkeepers using a scythe or a few local sheep! In 1920 the championship returned, was won by the lightningly fast player George Duncan, who was then based at Hangar Hill; he was later to move on to Mere, south of Manchester, where he regaled all and sundry with “days of yore” in fine style.

Aisher, whose company, Marley, were great supporters of golf, being the main sponsor for the BBC series Pro Celebrity Golf for many years. He loved the club and was able to lend a helping hand when times were hard. These days all is not yet perfect but I’m thrilled at the prospects that lie ahead. Whether the Open Championship will ever return is a matter of conjecture; there would be many problems but there is so much enthusiasm running through the club at the thought of giving this wonderful “old lady” a m a k e - o v e r. The course needs a tweak here and a hug there, an investment in getting it in as fine a condition as can be without losing sight of the fact this is links golf with all the problems of golf by the sea – humpy, bumpy fairways and drying winds. Playing those last half dozen holes into the wind is punishment enough, so one hesitates to advise more yardage added to that fine run of holes!

Royal Cinque Ports is a friendly club with a lot of history and a fine cross section of members

For whatever reason, Royal Cinque Ports was then placed on the “back burner”. The championship continued to be played at Royal St George’s but Prince’s, where Gene Sarazen won in 1932, was also crossed off the list, never to return. Yet over the years the course has been the setting for a formidable list of golf’s premier events, even if the post-war years at the club were not easy. It was out of the way, local membership was not strong and, for many years, the financial situation of the club was bordering on dire! But, if you’re lucky, there’s usually a saviour on hand and there have been a number over the years but one who must be mentioned is Jack


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Restoring a Classic Links


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Royal Cinque Ports is a friendly club with a lot of history, a fine cross section of members, close to the town of Deal and with a number of other fine courses within a 15-minute drive, three of them having hosted the Open. It’s a wonderful part of the world to experience a golfing holiday. There may be other areas of the country similarly blessed but none as unique as this little corner of Kent I so enjoy. I wish them all success, there’s much to ponder, much to do. Good luck and good golfing.

Timeless but Evolving


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Timeless but evolving Both the course and the clubhouse are getting a facelift to keep golf in Deal of the highest quality Duke of York presents the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Cup to inaugural winners Rosemary Lines and son Edward.

Standing on the clubhouse balcony, surveying the old links and the ancient seas beyond, whatever the season, the idyllic scene appears magically timeless, comfortingly unchanging. Of course, it is not. The trick is in balancing the welcoming feel of history and tradition alongside improving standards. Just as elsewhere, at the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club at Deal, now well into its 12th decade of existence, evolution must take its course.

lost its place as a Final Qualifying venue for the 2011 Open at neighbouring Royal St George’s. This has been averted following the project under course consultant Gordon Irvine which has revolutionised the condition of the links (see pages 2-3) and the club is again being used as a venue for important

scholarships for local schoolchildren under the tuition of the genial club professional Andrew Reynolds. The Royal Golf Coast campaign will bring together Prince’s, Royal St George’s, Deal and other courses along the coast in a marketing and promotional campaign to encourage visitors to the area. Already fourball days have been aligned to provide an appropriate venue each day of the week: Prince’s (Monday and Friday); St George’s (Tuesday); Littlestone (Wednesday); Cinque Ports (Tuesday and Thursday). “These


Julius Caesar was not one of those people but where he landed with his invading Roman armies over 2000 years ago, there has been golf played formally since 1892.

With two major schemes underway, concerning the golf course and the clubhouse, there has rarely been a more dedicated sense of purpose running through the club. It was acknowledged at a recent EGM by club president, Jack Aisher, in his 40th year in the post, when he said: “We wouldn’t be here today if other people, in earlier times, had not taken a leap of faith and invested in the future of the club.” Julius Caesar was not one of those people but where he landed with his invading Roman armies over 2000 years ago, there has been golf played formally since 1892. Swiftly approaching are the centenaries of the first Open Championship played on the links in 1909 – another Open followed in 1920 – and of the Royal assent in 1910 when King George V became patron of the club. The royal link remains today with HRH The Duke of York taking over as patron and presenting the prizes for the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Cup. Another milestone was the revision of the links by James Braid in 1919 into what essentially exists now. Recently the condition of the course had caused such concern that the club could have

marketing initiatives and increasing income from both the clubhouse and the course are all part of a planned and measured response to ensuring the financial sustainability of the club,” said Hannah. “But we are mindful, too, that this is a traditional members’ club and that we should proudly guard our heritage and culture.”

competitions, with the British Seniors Amateur Championship being hosted in 2008. “In everything we do, we put the course first,” said secretary Ken Hannah. “It is our primary asset and its growing reputation will not just benefit our members but encourage others to join the club, both locally and, indeed, from around the world.” Hannah, who joined the club at the start of 2007 with both a golfing and business background, works with the club’s management board, which is responsible for the long-term planning and sustainability of the club. By Easter 2008 a £900,000 clubhouse refurbishment will have been completed, providing new facilities for both members and visitors. Other schemes underway include becoming a satellite greenkeeping academy for Elmwood College in Fife, liaising with Dover District Council about possible new access from Fowlmead Country Park and a new train station in the area, as well as golfing

Club president Jack Aisher with the Ryder Cup




Restoring a Classic Links Andy Farrell explains how Gordon Irvine is helping to restore Deal’s reputation as a world-class seaside course




When is a links golf course not actually a links? To the uninitiated simply being on duneland next to the sea might be enough to qualify. But to the expert eye it is the state of the turf that provides the true test and one that Deal failed only a few years ago. For a club with such historic importance and a former Open venue, this came as shocking news and remedial action was swiftly proposed. Greenkeeping consultant Gordon Irvine was the man brought in to oversee the restoration of the Royal Cinque Ports course as a world-class championship links. Irvine, a 43-year-old from Ayrshire, has been acting as a consultant at the club since 2004 and is working on a six-year project returning the course to its natural links condition. “When I arrived I was expecting to find a links course that was in trouble,” Irvine explained. “What I actually found was a parkland course in trouble.” To a Scot who learned his trade at Turnberry before qualifying as a Master Greenkeeper – there are less than 50 worldwide – and becoming British Greenkeeper of the Year in 1993, this was neglect of the worst kind. “All the links grasses had been lost and it had become a soft, lush parkland course,” he added. “All you could see was a wall of overfed, over-watered green grass. The members, brought up on playing a traditional links game, were going to the professional’s shop and buying lob wedges in order to play the course. It was a tragic waste of what remains a wonderful links layout.”

it accordingly. We all saw how wonderfully Hoylake played for the Open during the hot summer of 2006. Here at Deal we enjoyed conditions like that for nine or ten weeks. The course is firming up and we are probably firmer in the winter than most courses in the summer. That’s the sort of golf we want to get back to playing.” Irvine’s work has not gone unnoticed. Michael Coffey wrote in Golf Club Secretary in 2006: “The pace and quality of the restoration is remarkable. The deterioration of Deal over several years has been well documented – one of the great links had become a pasture. Gordon Irvine’s rescue plan is now well down the fairway of implementation and for those visiting the club the results are there for all to see. The alterations and refinements, as well as the general quality of the links, greens

“When I arrived I was expecting to find a links course that was in trouble,” Irvine explained. “What I actually found was a parkland course in trouble.”

What may have been a factor was the building of the sea wall in the 1970s, ironically enough given that its absence earlier in the century led to flooding that meant Deal lost out on a couple more Open Championships that had to be moved to Royal St George’s. The regular flooding of sea water used to kill off the rye and annual meadow grasses which subsequently were allowed to become established.

Irvine instituted a programme of sustainable maintenance, reintroducing the traditional fescue grasses, reducing the amount of watering to a quarter of its previous quantity and use of fertilisers to a tenth of previous levels. In addition, numerous bunkers have been reshaped, new tees added and greens returned to their original size. Outdated machinery was also scrapped and the greenkeeping staff trained in the “art” of links maintenance. Although Irvine stresses there is more work to do, he is pleased with the results so far. “We are proving to a lot of courses what you can do if you respect what should be there and maintain

essentially is today in 1919. Since then others to have tweaked the design include Donald Steel. Future plans include new tees up on the sea wall at the seventh and ninth holes. Thanks to the work of Irvine and many others, Deal is returning to its lofty status as a world class course. As Steel said: “Royal Cinque Ports typifies classic links golf – a glorious sense of freedom and a wonderfully varied assortment of shots where, as Bernard Darwin once so aptly declared, ‘the fives are likely to be many and the fours few’.”

and fairways are of the highest order, with the re-bunkering of the approach to the 17th getting my vote as the single most impressive example of restoration I have ever seen on a golf course.” With a growing reputation as a links specialist, Irvine has been in demand, also working with Rosslare Golf Club in Ireland and helping to uncover an Old Tom Morris course at Askernish on the tiny island of South Uist in the Hebrides. The nine-holer had lain overgrown for more than 70 years and the project to restore it led to Irvine being featured on the BBC programme Coast. Due to the connection, two young members of the RCP greenkeeping staff will gain invaluable experience working on South Uist. By coincidence, both Askernish and Deal were founded in the same year – 1892. Cinque Ports started as a nine-holer before being expanded to 18 four years later. James Braid, the five-time Open champion, established the layout as it

Course Consultant Gordon Irvine hard at work.










Triumphs of Taylor and Duncan beyond perdition’s embrace Deal has always been held in the highest regard as club historian David Dobby explains in his review of the club’s links with the Open The Open was awarded to Deal on six separate occasions but sadly only played over the course twice in 1909 and 1920. Two of the other occasions were during the war years in 1915 and 1942 and thus the event could not be held, and the other two were in 1938 and 1949 when it was transferred to Royal St George’s due to the course being flooded by the sea. Prior to the Open of 1909, in an article published in Country Life, W H Fowler states the main features of the course are fine putting greens and excellent sand hazards of all shapes and sizes and the first-rate lies through the green. The weak points he considers are the total absence of a really good short hole and the want of proper protection to some of the putting greens. The total length of the Championship course was 6,581 yards; this was over 200 yards longer than Hoylake, the longest of the former Championship greens.

among the Championship courses it comes next to St Andrews. At all events the honour of second position lies between it and Hoylake.” Later in the article it states, “When the man gets to within 150 yards of the green he has an intensely interesting problem in this short game set him. The ground is wavy, there are hollows and hillocks just short of the green, and it is seldom enough to pitch the ball within half a dozen yards of the spot fixed upon. It must pitch to within a yard or two at the most, if the desired shot is to come off as is intended. Further, the man who is to get the proper satisfaction out of this course must be able to play every kind of approach shot that we know and play it well.”

An early view of the Deal "Arena"

qualifying rounds the weather was again very fine but the wind was slightly fresher and blew fairly strongly against the players on the way out. Sixty-nine players qualified with scores of 161 or better, the qualifiers being led by C H Mayo with 146. The first day of the Championship proper was played in very unfavourable conditions, the weather had broken and the day was raw, wet and rather windy but even so the scoring was extraordinarily good. At the end of the day J H Taylor, Royal Mid-Surrey, was in the lead with 74+73 =147, followed closely by C Johns, Southerndown, and Tom Ball, West Lancs, on 148. On the second day Taylor has two further rounds of 74 for a total of 295 and wins by six shots from James Braid, Walton Heath, and Tom Ball on 301. Unstinted praise was given to the officers and members of the Cinque Ports Club who worked very hard to make the first Championship at Deal a success and most certainly achieved their object.”

“It is most certainly one of the very finest courses in the world”

In another article, The American Golfer claims that, “It is most certainly one of the very finest courses in the world, and as a test of golf there seems to be a fair amount of unanimity that

Prior to the Open, a delegates’ meeting was held at the Club at which Deal becomes the sixth delegate for a period of five years charged with governing The Open. Deal was also added to The Open rota, this being 1910 St Andrews, 1911 Sandwich, 1912 Muirfield, 1913 Hoylake, 1914 Prestwick and 1915 Deal. Unfortunately, World War I intervened and there was no Championship held between 1915 and 1919, so Deal was transferred to 1920.

Abe Mitchell tees off in the 1920 open



The 1909 Open was won by J H Taylor, the fourth of his five wins, with scores of 74, 73, 74, 74 for a total of 295. The Times reported, “Deal made its debut as a Championship course under almost ideal conditions, a cloudless day with a light variable breeze. The course was in excellent order, the greens being a nice easy pace and apparently very true. On the second day of the

The course was closed during the 1st World War and did not re-open until 1919, by then the holes seven to 12 had been redesigned with Braid’s assistance to the layout currently in use, with the exception of the fourth hole. This was still the blind Sandy Parlour. George Greenwood in his article for Golf Illustrated considered the new holes a great improvement and removed the one blemish of the course, that of going straight out and straight back. He stated, “Deal is pre-eminently a long hitter’s course where fours at most holes are extremely difficult to obtain, and fives, and perhaps sixes, are more


A statue of Harry Vardon in the clubhouse

likely to figure on your card. The man who hits far and sure over the region of mountains and dunes will find the country of comforting lies; if you be a miserably short driver then nothing can save you from perdition’s embrace.” The redesigned course was now 6,576 yards long. The 1920 Open was won by George Duncan with scores of 80, 80, 71, 72 for a total of 303 – this after being 13 strokes behind Abe Mitchell after two rounds. The first day of the Championship was favoured with almost ideal summer weather save a WSW wind blowing with testing vigour that increases throughout the day. At the close of play Mitchell, North Foreland, led the field with a score of 147, six strokes in front of Jim Barnes, from the USA, and Alex Herd, Coombe Hill, who were equal on 153. George Duncan, Hanger Hill, not at his best, returned 160. Walter Hagen, the famous American player, returned 166. Mitchell started his second round with 3, 5, 5, 3, 4, 4, 4, then holes out in one at the eighth and finished the round in 73. The Amateurs scored indifferently with the exception of Douglas Grant, Royal Cinque Ports, and Lord Charles Hope, Royal St George’s, each of whom returned 159. On the second day Abe Mitchell arrived on the first tee for the commencement of his third round when a huge crowd swarmed down the 18th and a man in the crowd shouted, “Duncan has a 4 for a 69”. This put the fear of God into Mitchell who eventually took an 8 on the fifth hole after the most tragic run of holes played by a great golfer in an Open Championship and finished the round with an 84. Duncan won the Championship by two strokes from Alex Herd and three from Ted Ray, Oxhey. Mitchell finihsed fourth, one stroke further back after a final round of 76. The best of the Amateurs were Willie Hunter, son of the club professional Harry Hunter, Walmer & Kingsdown, on 322 and Douglas Grant, Royal Cinque Ports, on 324. George Duncan said on winning The Open, “I think Deal one of the best and one of the fairest courses I have ever played on.” It was during this Championship that it is reputed the great American golfer, Walter Hagen, hired a Rolls Royce, which he parked outside the clubhouse, and had a butler serve him champagne and caviar on a linen tablecloth adjacent to the clubhouse. He also used his car for changing rather than using the

overcrowded professional’s shop, which was the only dressing room available for non-amateurs. This is partly correct but the true story is described in a fascinating article written by him of the event. Apparently he arrived at the Club with Jim Barnes in a rented Austro-Daimler, complete with chauffeur and footman, and finding no one about entered the men’s locker room to change their shoes. He was promptly told that he was a professional and that he would be using Mr Hunter’s Pro-shop for changing. After they had inspected the Pro’s shop they decided to change their shoes in the car, then went out to play giving instructions for the car to return tothe front of the clubhouse when they reached the 18th green. This they did on every day of the Championship despite the protestations from the Secretary. Walter Hagen was one of the new brand of dedicated American professional golfers who were to change the face of the game by opening it to the masses and breaking down the social barriers that separated the professional and amateur players. The above incident shows how Deal played its part in this transition. The Open has not been played over the course since but the Open history and tradition of the club remains alive.

Extracts taken from David Dobby’s history of Royal Cinque Ports GC.

George Duncan, the 1920 Open champion, putting indoors.




Where to Stay When you Play After a hard day's golf both visitor and country members particularly want a comfortable bed and a good breakfast.

Dunkerley’s H















Renowned for our fresh local seafood and warm hospitality, Dunkerly’s, offers you the opportunity to get away from it all and indulge in our rich local heritage. 1 9


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The Lord Nelson Hotel - Restaurant - Bar

Welcome to the Lord Nelson Hotel, in Deal, Kent. Our family-run hotel, restaurant and bar is beautifully located on the Walmer, Deal seafront. Just 10 minutes from the centre of Deal, we are half way between Deal and Walmer Castles, and close to all the Deal area's amenities and charms. We have eight bedrooms including a family room. All have ensuite WC and shower, several with lovely sea views. Our hotel restaurant,The Trafalgar, offers delicious, imaginative, home-cooked food, using fresh local produce.

Whether you stay for a night, for a weekend or for longer, a warm welcome awaits you at the Lord Nelson and in the charming and characterful seaside town of Deal, Kent. 50 The Strand, Walmer, Deal, Kent, CT14 7DX Tel: 01304 361895 Email: w w w . t h e n e l s o n h o t e l . c o . u k



Molland House B e d a n d B r e a k f a s t Stay at Molland House B & B, a 16th century Manor House near Sandwich in Kent, and enjoy the history, spacious luxury en-suite guest rooms and out of town peace and tranquillity, an ideal location for your business trip or holiday.


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5 & 7 Ranelagh Road, Deal, Kent CT14 7BG

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Farm House Luxurious Bed and Breakfast

Deep within the heart of East Kent, in the enchanting village of Worth, this 18th Century Period Farm house is the perfect place for a comfortable and relaxing get-away. Beamed ceilings and

The Malvern is a 11 bedrooms Victorian family house. Run by Pauline & Dereck Barnes & their team of helpers. ‘Come & Go’ is our philosophy for your stay. 3 minutes from the town centre with shops, bars & restaurants. All room have colour TVs,Tea & Coffee making facilities. Mini Bars and Snack Bars. EARLY BREAKFASTS ARE ALWAYS ARRANGED with a wonderful selection for you to choose from Single, Double,Twin & Twin Family Rooms are Available Prices are from £30.00 per person Bed & Breakfast

inglenook fireplaces add to the character of this charming property, which overlooks the tranquil village pond. Sandwich is just a mile away and golfers are within a few minutes of the Royal Cinque Ports course.

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Deal, and surrounding area, are blessed with

run, and most of the rooms have sea views.

many such places. Solley Farm House is set

You are, of course, just a drive and pitch

in charming surroundings and is also ideal

away from the course, which will allow

Roof, which has a jolly and friendly


atmosphere, has a good selection of real

for those of you playing George's. We have heard excellent reports of this luxurious B & B situated in the attractive village of Worth.










prior to your tee time. We conclude our tour with The Hole in The

ales, and also enjoys live music.

Not far from here, in Sandwich, you will find





magnificent gardens designed by Lutyens & Jekyll. The accommodation extends over 3 cottages. Luxury is a keynote here. Close to home we have The Malvern Guest House with eleven bedrooms. They understand golfers and, therefore, early breakfasts are never a problem. Close by you will find Dunkerly’s Hotel, which prides itself on providing some of the splendid local fresh seafood. Up the road we see the famous Lord Nelson Hotel. Be assured that this is family ROYAL CINQUE PORTS GOLF CLUB



Grand days out Deal is no stranger to the big event and holds a number of major competitions annually The oldest of these is the Borough of Deal Challenge Cup which was presented by the Mayor of Deal in 1893 for an Open singles matchplay competition on handicap, limit 8 (now 9), and played over three days. The Cup was subscribed for by the townspeople of Deal to mark their appreciation of the Club being formed. The competition is held during Deal Week. HRH Prince of Wales Challenge Cup, formerly the Open Scratch Challenge Cup, was presented by HRH Prince of Wales in 1932. This is usually played over 36 holes on the same weekend as the Royal St George’s Grand Challenge Cup, which enables a further prize to be awarded for the whole 72 holes. Many distinguished amateurs have won the



Cup namely: Ian Caldwell, Philip Scrutton, Michael Bonallack, Peter Hedges, Ted Dexter and Lee Westwood. The Halford Hewitt Tournament is the largest true amateur foursomes team event held in the world. Today it comprises 64 teams of 10 players competing in a foursomes matchplay knockout over four days, with every match played to a finish. The teams are made up of Public School Old Boys and the list is closed unless one of the Schools drops out, but that is a rarity. Their contribution to the Club both financially and socially has been

Cows at The Halford Hewitt

the envy of many and each year usually during the last week before Easter the town of Deal welcomes the players with open arms. The event has become an institution and it would be hard to imagine it not being on the calendar. G L (Susie) Mellin instigated the tournament in 1924 when it was initially


played at The Addington between eleven Public Schools, each match being over 36 holes, but this changed to 18 holes when it transferred to Deal in 1925. It has been held here ever since. Halford Hewitt put up a cup for the winners in 1925 and hence it has become known as the Halford Hewitt. Soon after Europe won the Ryder Cup at the Belfry in 1985, the first time the Americans had been defeated since 1957, Peter Alliss, a

member of that ’57 team, became conscious that professional golfers, contrary to amateurs, hardly ever had a reunion. He thought it would be a lovely idea for the past Ryder Cup players to get together in a friendly match against the past Walker Cup players and, having aired his thoughts with his BBC co-presenter Bruce Critchley, the Grand Match became a reality. It was to be played in foursomes over 36 holes in teams of 12 with strategic team changes being made by each

The Old Lorry Farm Shop We are specialist suppliers to caterers Please visit our large shop containing quality goods Open Mon-Sat 8–6pm Sunday 9–4pm

captain for the afternoon round. Royal Cinque Ports was chosen as the venue for the inaugural match in October 1985. It has been held at Deal ever since except in years 1991 and 1993 when it was held at Swinley Forest and Brocket Hall respectively.

Extracts taken from David Dobby’s history of Royal Cinque Ports GC.







My Golf Club BY KAREN STUPPLES 2004 Women’s British Open champion Looking back on when I joined Cinque Ports as a 15year-old, probably no one thought I would go on and win a major championship. To be honest, I was not very good but I loved the challenge of golf, just getting the ball in the air, trying to hit it further. Though Laura Davies was a huge inspiration - you have to love the fearless way she goes about her golf - I am more from the Nick Faldo, Ben Hogan school of “digging it out of the dirt”.

But at Sunningdale in 2004, my start to the final round was unbelievable, with an eagle at the first and then holing a five-iron for an albatross at the second. It’s a moment I’ll never forget but the

Karen Stupples in action above, and left holding the British Open Trophy

even more memorable occasion at the end of the year when the club offered me honorary membership. So many members turned up that evening and said such nice things, by the time I came to speak I could hardly get the words out. I got very emotional because I am so grateful for everything that everybody at the club has done. There was always someone to play with me, people to encourage me and support me and I wouldn’t be here without them.

“I was so proud to show off the trophy in the clubhouse at Deal”

Hopefully, that’s not how I left the practice range but I just loved being out there working on my game and although I kept our pro, Andrew Reynolds, out there in all weathers, he offered nothing but constant encouragement. And I am sure that having the opportunity of playing on such a demanding course as Deal while I was learning the game really helped me to win a major. I’ve always been at home on tough layouts where scoring is tricky and you get good value for your pars.



really unreal part was how I settled down so quickly and focused on playing every hole. I got a bit nervous towards the end but I kept thinking of what Linda Bayman, fellow club member and my England captain in my amateur days, used to say about making sure you finish a round strongly. I finished like a champion and the crowds, the standing ovation at the 18th, all made it a very special day. The next day I was so proud to show off the trophy in the clubhouse at Deal but there was an

In 2007 my golf has taken a back seat for the most important reason of giving birth to my son Logan and becoming a mum. Although we love living in Orlando, there is nothing like coming home to Deal and of course we had to introduce Logan all to his British relatives. The trip last summer also gave me the chance to play more at the club than for quite a few years and it was great to see the improvements in the course. To everyone involved, I can only say: Keep up the good work!




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