Edgbaston Golf Club started out in 1896 with a 9-hole course at Lightwood Park in Warley, before relocating to Ridgeacre Road in Harborne fourteen years later. Its final move to Edgbaston Park took place in 1936, when Harry Colt was commissioned to design an 18-hole course which was constructed by contractor Franks Harris Bros.
In correspondence with the Secretary, a Mr. Lunt, Colt wrote on 20 May 1936:
“Will you kindly make enquiries and see if I can purchase for my own consumption several dozens of that excellent sherry which you have at the Union Club. If you can arrange this for me I will work myself to the bone for your Edgbaston Golf Course.
But kindly note that it will not be shortened by one single yard under my advice. Your members need never play off the back tees, but it is essential to have them for big competitions.”
The official opening took place the following year, on 2nd October 1937, with Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister and MP for Edgbaston, present as Guest of Honour.
The following edited extract is taken from Peter Pugh & Henry Lord’s book titled Creating Classics: the golf courses of Harry Colt:
“Edgbaston Golf Club is only two miles from the centre of Birmingham, but from playing there you would hardly know it. Set in mature parkland, the course greens are small targets and the tree-lined fairways require straight hitting if a good score is to be achieved on this tight par 69 course.
Edgbaston’s magnificent clubhouse, originally commissioned as a private mansion by Sir Richard Gough in 1717, presides over the course. Evidence suggests that before Colt’s design the private estate was landscaped by Capability Brown. Taking in the fine views from the upstairs windows of the clubhouse, such claims are easy to believe.
The opening hole is a straightforward par four, something Colt often tried to get games moving away quickly. Then follows a long par four dogleg left with a fairway bunker some 85 yards short of the green. Moving to the 184-yard 5th hole we come to the second of the par threes on the front nine.
The back nine begins with stroke index 2, a par four playing 457 yards down a generous fairway. The challenge comes on the second shot which must carry some cleverly placed bunkers 60 yards short of the green. The penultimate 17th is the only par five on the course, played uphill and curving gently to the right.”
A Colt parkland course, set fairly centrally in Birmingham, there are worse places to have a walk. With a number of bunkers recently being renovated to reflect the architects original vision, this course is continually improving itself. Although not long, it is a par 69, which can lead to some challenging holes, indeed there are a number of ‘half par holes’, with the 2nd and 6th coming to mind as par 4.5s, and the 11th and short downhill 16th playing as basically par 3.5s. A couple of the greens have a lot of interest, for example the short par 3 7th, two tiered 9th (personally my favourite hole), the green on the aforementioned 11th, and the two finishing holes. Fairly playable with not many forced carries, and mostly offering width, there are a couple of holes which in this authors opinion could do with some tree removal to increase strategic options. On that subject- I’ve heard a criticism of Edgbaston is that it lacks strategy, but I think there is just enough to keep the player interested. If you are in the midlands area, I would strongly recommend a visit over some of the more well-known local resort courses.
Edgbaston and another Colt course to play ! Not the easiest of places to get to in Birmingham, the course is fairly confined and although only 6106 yards in length (on a breezy and wet August day) with a par of only 69 it was pretty tricky. Fairways are reasonably tight (compounded with a number of side slopes) but the main feature is the small greens (good condition) requiring accuracy with the approach shots. The par 4's at 2, 4, 6 and 8 are all good holes and all required good accurate drives to have any chance of reaching in two. In between there were three good par 3's, the 3rd green being very narrow and clever with a run-off on the right hand side funnelling the ball into a bunker, the 5th at 175 yards into the wind requiring a solid hit to clear the bunkers into a narrow green set at an angle, and the 7th a really tricky downhill 156 yard hole to a very small green with trouble everywhere. A very good stretch of interesting holes from one to eight promised much, but I just felt that thereafter it was not quite as good with only one par 3 on the back nine, the only par 5 on the course at 17, and for me the finishing hole (although very tough) was a disappointing finish. Nicest hole on the course was I thought the 13th, a dog-leg par 4 with water left off the tee, a ditch across the fairway and the second shot framed with beautiful trees including a number of weeping willows. A good front nine, a more average back nine, so overall somewhere between a 3 and 4 ball for me
Edgbaston is a highly impressive private members golf club laid out on a rolling, albeit compact, parcel of parkland just one mile from the centre of Birmingham.
Having been established in 1896 Edgbaston had a couple of different homes before the current layout was designed by the legendary H.S. Colt in 1936. The quality of his green settings are clear to see during the round and this makes a round here one of the best in the West Midlands.
The par-69 course, which measures a maximum of just 6,106 yards, includes an ornamental lake and plays through mature and extensive woodland with small greens that have just the correct amount of borrow to make the holes strategic and challenging but still extremely playable.
You’re unlikely to lose many balls at Edgbaston and whilst there are lots of trees on this established property there is still a certain roominess to it despite the small acreage. The course reminded me slightly to nearby Blackwell although the bunkering is nowhere near as good here.
The set of four short holes, three of which come early between the third and seventh, are all very impressive; deceptive targets, well bunkered and taxing greens. The fifth was my personal favourite with an egg-timer shaped green much wider than it is deep with a good amount of slope. The downhill seventh is also a gem with the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower acting as a unique backdrop.
Classic Colt can be found at many holes but the green complexes around the grand clubhouse – Edgbaston Hall - are the most ingenious.
Length is not particularly an asset at Edgbaston but careful course management, accurate play and a deft touch with the putter will be rewarded in spades.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.