DEAL, Kent, England -- Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club hasn't hosted an Open Championship since 1920, but its place as a championship test is certainly secure.
The club, dating to 1892, hosted the 2013 British Amateur Championship and was scheduled to host one of the final four Open qualifiers from 2014-2017 until severe storms this winter in southeast England filled up low-lying areas and bunkers with water, forcing a change of venue for this summer only.
Royal Cinque Ports, a traditional out-and-back links that hosted Opens in 1909 and 1920, should recover nicely once the water recedes. The links many call "Deal" has a history of battling floods. It lost Open Championships in 1938 and 1949 because of a sea surge. A large seawall built in the 1970s has done its job protecting the course.
Alas, much of the scenery of the shore was lost with its construction. Although three beautiful tee boxes have been built atop the seawall over the years, the layout's best holes rely upon the natural dunes. The third green, the end of a demanding par 4, sits sunken from view in a bowl. A blind tee shot up the left side of the sixth fairway sets up a wedge shot to a table-top green that falls off on three sides. Wild humps and hills highlight interesting green complexes on holes 15-17. Safely crossing a ditch in the final fairway leads to the tricky 18th green.
Be sure to visit the clubhouse for a drink. The second-floor balcony off the bar looks beyond the seawall, a sublime view everybody will cherish.