Tom Dunn, who was the Tooting Bec professional at the time, extended Bath’s original 9-hole course on part of Hampton Down called The Warren to a full 18-hole layout in the early 1880s.
J. H. Taylor recommended further expansion in 1906 – using ground from the adjoining ladies course – then more work was carried out following advice from James Braid in 1913 and 1928.
Harry Colt modifications (which included the construction of the current 10th and 11th holes) were completed at the end of the 1930s to fashion the course that is still in play over seventy years later.
Sham Castle, as the club is known locally, is set out adjacent to a former stone quarry that operated on high ground overlooking the town of Bath, the course is blessed with free-draining soil that ensures fairways are normally found in tip-top condition.
With only two par fives and three short holes on the scorecard, the strength of the layout is found in its par four holes and strong sequences of these two-shotters are found at holes 1-3, 7-10 and 16-18.The most memorable hole arrives at the short par four 17th, which doglegs right and upwards to a well defended, two-tiered green. Out of bounds is marked by a low wall that runs from tee to green 25 yards to the right of the fairway centreline, so golfers are advised to play conservatively if they hope to score four or less at this hole.
Played in Bath Easter open hoping to judge for myself the second best course in Somerset. Welcome was good. Food was ok. Range had possibly the worst range balls ever. Course condition was poor, with worst competition greens I can recall playing on for a while; they were hard and bumpy and in dire need of water and growth. The course itself I found fairly average. There are a few nice holes with some fairly bland ones in between, and this did little to lift the gloom of having to putt at the end of the hole. The short par 4 dog-leg 17th was probably the most interesting hole, but this is swiftly followed by an uninspiring downhill 18th. The condition of the greens makes me think of a two ball rating, but in fairness I have played Bath before and they have been fine. I think in reality Bath is an average course (ie. not poor, but not any better than a lot of others), and perhaps it's ranking in Somerset is a reflection on Somerset courses in general.