Blackwell - Worcestershire - England

Blackwell Golf Club,
Agmore Rd,
Blackwell,
Bromsgrove,
Worcestershire,
B60 1PY,
England


  • +44 (0) 121 445 1994

Six times an Open Championship Regional Qualifying course, Blackwell Golf Club is the quintessential English gem and has a proud history dating back to 1893. The club’s original 9-hole course occupied part of Viscount Windsor’s Hewell Grange estate, a couple of miles south of where today’s 18-hole layout is located. In 1923, Herbert Fowler and Tom Simpson were hired to set out the club’s new course within a compact 102-acre tract of land just outside the village of Blackwell.

Today, this course extends to a moderate 6,260 yards, playing to a par of 70, with only three par fives on the card: the 490-yard 4th has a green that’s heavily protected by deep bunkers to the front, the 486-yard 8th doglegs downhill to the left from the tee and the 512-yard 12th features a very long narrow bunker that runs along the right side of the fairway – we suspect this is a modern hazard that’s been added to deal with a drainage problem or a similar conditioning issue.

It’s known for a fact that Bobby Jones played the course immediately after he won the Open at Hoylake in 1930. What’s not so certain is the story that he allegedly based the design of the famous 12th hole at Augusta National on the 181-yard 13th at Blackwell. Now that might just be taking the realms of speculation a bit too far but, if it’s true, then it’s some accolade for a heavily-bunkered little beauty in Worcestershire.

Tom Doak made a point of playing Blackwell in 2016 and awarded the course a rating of six out of ten. He commented as follows in his Christmas 2017 Confidential Guide update:

“My late friend Woody Millen, a member at Piping Rock and Palmetto, was also an overseas member of Blackwell, which I’d never heard of. He always played it off as being more about the club than the golf course, but I knew him well enough to know the golf must be pretty good, too. The course is tightly packed into a small parcel between suburban Birmingham and open farmland – it’s a par 70 and the longest of the three par-fives is 512 yards. As a consequence, they’ve planted a few too many trees to try and keep up the level of difficulty, as if the difficult set of short holes were not up to the task. The camaraderie of the club is no doubt enhanced by having the 10th tee and 18th green play up to within a few feet of the clubhouse, and the 1st tee right up against the building, so that all your friends are out to watch you finish [and possibly gamble on your approach to the last].”

The club has recently developed a 10-year masterplan and is restoring Simpson’s original design strategies with the help of Frank Pont from the Clayton, DeVries and Pont design firm.

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Reviews for Blackwell

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Description: Six times an Open Championship Regional Qualifying course, Blackwell Golf Club is the quintessential English gem and has a proud history dating back to 1893. Rating: 6.9 out of 10 Reviews: 26
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Matthew Eckersley

I played Blackwell a couple of weeks ago as I was lucky enough to be invited by a friend who is a member. I haven't played it since I was at school (unfortunately over 20 years ago) however I am pleased to say it was every bit as good as I remember! The first three holes are a challenge to any golfer but then the next 5 give you opportunity to make a score (I love the shot P4 5th hole - a real risk reward hole). The 9th is one of the best par 3's over water you could wish for and most will need to stop at the spike bar (which I am told is in play!) to recover. The back nine is a good as any I've played. The 13th is a brilliant short hole to a wide but narrow green and the 14th is a beautiful P4 winding its way through the trees. The greens were exceptional, very fast with great grass coverage considering the dry summer. The reception from the members was also top class, extremely friendly and welcoming. I couldn't have enjoyed it more - I am lucky to have played many courses here and in Europe and the US and I don't think I've had a days golf that was as much fun as this one. Couldn't recommend more highly!!

August 06, 2013
8 / 10
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Marty Brown
Played Blackwell early in November and I was pleasantly surprised by the conditioning of the course. While the ball needed to be hit through the air which is understandable with the summer we have had, the greens and fairways were pretty good in terms dryness and condition. Not long by modern standards but you do need to position the ball in the right place. The course starts with a very strong 1st hole with a slight blind tee shot. Not unusual to find in Herbert Fowler and Tom Simpson designs. Simpson once said “a blind shot is only blind once”. Some very long par 4’s make up for the collection of five par 3’s with a risk and reward tee start awaiting on the dog leg par 5 8th hole. The 9th is a terrific par 3 over water which sits below the clubhouse. You’ll need your best shots to tackle holes 15 & 16. It was my first experience of Blackwell having heard so much about the place and I look forward to another visit next summer to see it in its full glory. Experiencing the clubhouse is a must. The place oozes class. For the whole experience of a days out golfing then Blackwell will feature as one of my favourites. Marty B
November 05, 2012
8 / 10
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David Rimmer
Played this week on a hot and breezy July day.The course is probably not looking its best right now and definately bears some scars from the recent deluges. This made the rough very difficult in places and the course just looked a tad scruffy in some areas. That siad, I am pretty sure this is all down to the weather and I certainly wouldn't let it detract from my view.This is a very good test of golf, in beautiful countryside. Other than the occasional train and the odd passing car in quiet country lanes you are often in splendid isolation. The course is very lightly played as a result of the very small membership here.The course starts with a fairly strong par 4 requiring a blind drive over the hill. The 2nd is a tight par 3 (don't hook it) and the 3rd is a very strong par 4. There are then a few decent scoring opportunities until you reach the 9th - a 200 yard par 3 of the whites guarded by a sizable lake.The back 9 felt tougher - the 10th is an excellent par 4 with superbly placed bunkers, the 11th a 220 yard par 3 with the railway line on the left, the 12th a long par 5 guarded by a very long bunker up most of the right, 13th a good par 3 and the 14th a challenging par 4 stroke 1 hole. The 16th is an absolute brute - 462 yards and I guess only avoids being SI1 as a result of it being late in the roundit is a par 5 in anything but name.The 17th is a short but tricky par 4 and the 18th a shortish par 4 that requires a very accurate tee shot to a very small green right in front of the clubhouse.Our party were made to feel very welcome by all that we met,the catering was first class and I definately look forward to my next visit.Finally, whilst dining, we witnessed the sight of a 5 ball playing alternate shots with 3 balls - anyone know how that works! I think the phrase eccentric features in a few of the revies of this excellent course.
July 24, 2012
8 / 10
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D
August 30, 2012
As a member of Blackwell, I can answer your question Re 5 players 3 balls. Five players are not uncommon at Blackwell but often they will choose to play foursomes and the single player plays their own ball. Foursomes or two ball golf is the most played at Blackwell in line with many traditional golf clubs. Thats not to say we don't play fourballs, but all club comps are two ball only. A nice review of a very special club and course.
El Gringo
September 01, 2012
Blackwell's design is one of the best in the greater Birmingham area. The back nine is of particular quality holes such as #s 10, 13, 15 & 18. Unfortunately, the club has allowed greens to become islands surrounded by a morass of rough. Fairways have been narrowed by rough and trees to the point where fairway bunkers are marooned from play. In addition, I have never seen the course in good nick, but in recent weeks the condition must be viewed as embarrassing by the members. While work has been carried out on the greens, I have rarely putted on such poor surfaces. There can be no excuse for how the course was presented on 24 August. If Blackwell wants to retain its reputation as a premier Midlands course, its members would do well to hire an architect who can sympathetically breathe life back into this fantastic Fowler/Simpson design. A complete rethink from how the course is maintained to the playing characteristics should be high on the agenda for 2013. It’s a shame that a course with such an esteemed design pedigree has been allowed to deteriorate for so many years.
D
September 03, 2012
In response to El Gringo, unfortunately when you played, the greens had just received major treatment i.e full hollowtine,sanding etc This was done immediately after hosting the English under 14 champs where the greens were superb running at around 10-11 on stimp. It is frustrating when greens are so good and are then dug up! However you can't argue with the course managers program if you want decent greens through autumn/winter. Blackwell has this year appointed a new course manager and there is no doubt that it will just get better and better.
El Gringo
September 04, 2012
D Thank you for the response. I was told the greens had been worked on two weeks previously. If this was the case, then something was drastically amiss. I have played plenty of courses which have conducted similar work (it is a fact of life) and the greens were very playable after a few days let alone a fortnight. In any case, to invite visitors on special deal only to inform them while stood at the counter paying the green fee that the greens are not as good as might be expected is at the very least poor marketing. Despite my misgivings on how the course has been allowed to deteriorate, I have always enjoyed my games at Blackwell. However, I think our party felt as though we were treated rather poorly in not being told of the state of the greens prior to booking. I wish the club every success with the new green keeper and hope the members seriously consider hiring an architect to restore the marvellous gem Blackwell is.
Harrison Brown
March 16, 2014
I have not played Blackwell but I am looking forward to playing it in a couple of months, I hope they haven't gone down the route of Penal golf design like El Gringo was alluding to, if this is the case then please Blackwell, do not do this, you will spoil a great golf course indeed, remember you are only the keepers of the course, please checkout out other top Fowler/Simpson designs and follow there ways. My home club is Marlborough is a Fowler/Simpson design and they have spoiled it by going down the Penal route, it is now just a frustrating round of golf and I am thinking of leaving after many years of enjoyment, think carefully.
Matthew Adams
Blackwell is a little isolated, meaning it’s tough to find and there are not many places nearby for breakfast. So with a little trepidation we arrived to find an almost deserted clubhouse early one morning in March. Despite being so early the staff in the clubhouse could not have been more welcoming in rustling up a fine breakfast roll and a pot of tea. Visiting a club so early in the season it can be difficult to form a fair view of a course, especially when some of the greens show more sand than grass. Blackwell Golf Course - Photo by reviewerConcentrating on the positives, the course benefits from beautifully serene surroundings – although there is a railway line to the left of the 10th and 11th – and has many fine holes and some interesting design features. There are a few doglegs (around eight) which add to the challenge with the need to shape shots both ways although the first-timer may struggle to judge the correct line and length to take from the tee. The 5th a short par 4 with its tiered green and the 8th with two snaking water hazards are arguably the pick of the dogleg holes. The back nine is a tougher test with a dogleg par 4 opener followed by a long par 3 11th at 215 yards with the railway line down the entire left hand side, behind the hedgerow. The long thin bunker down the right of the 12th is an intriguing design feature which maximizes the possibility of an awkward stance if your ball ends up in it. This is followed by a cracking par 3 from an elevated tee to a green fronted by a stream and bunkers. I preferred this short hole to the pond-fronted 9th. The 16th is a beast of a hole into the breeze while being fairly open. The final hole is shortish but if the approach is not precise it will be either bunkered if short, or if long, out of bounds/ in the Major’s soup if a clubhouse window is open, such is the proximity of the final green to the clubhouse. Blackwell is a good parkland layout, which if it were garnished with heather and MacKenzie style bunkers surely would garner more plaudits. However, I would say it looks and plays quite different from Surrey heathland courses. A good golfing day out.
March 25, 2012
6 / 10
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jon dougherty
First things first,I adored Blackwell from the first time I played it and wait with eager anticipation to play it again later in the year.A quiet,private club with a small membership but you get the strong feeling they want to keep it that way.Having said that everyone I met was friendly and approachable .Maybe some people like the glam and glitch of resort courses but I'd prefer this any day.Blackwell has a wealth of history and it's woth exploring the clubhouse as there are some wonderful photographs adorning the walls.However,the star of the show is undoubtedly the course.A beautiful parkland course maintained to exceptional standards-full credit to the groundstaff as they had the best greens I've played on in the last 18 months.It's not overly long but the 1st tee sits right outside the clubhouse windows and you can feel the looks as you nervously tee off .There are definite opportunities for birdies but there are pitfalls around the course with the greeens well protected,quite small and beautifully quick.You need to course manage to score well here.Particular favourite holes were the 13th -par 3 over a stream ,18th with the green slapbang in front of the clubhouse(try not to overclub) and the 9th.Play Blackwell and you will feel reinvigorated and refreshed-the stresses and troubles of the current times will ebb away.JD
June 21, 2010
8 / 10
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Andrew
June 26, 2010
An accurate review of an excellent course, which, if situated in Surrey/Berkshire would be comfortably rated in the Top 100.
Chris
June 17, 2011
I think Blackwell is one of the best courses in the Midlands, testing all aspects of your game, good use of elevation, lots of variety in the hole designs. The back nine reminds me of some of the Surrey courses I’ve played and this is better than half of them in my opinion.
Dan Hare
Blackwell is a traditional members' club, in superb condition with some very interesting holes and beautiful greens.
March 07, 2010
8 / 10
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n weaver
March 30, 2010
What a unique golfing experience at Blackwell, great course traditional welcome and hospitality and first class food.