Founded in 1935, Enville Golf Club added a second layout in the mid 1980s – with the original 18 holes renamed as the Highgate course.
This heathland cum woodland layout hosted Open Championship Regional Qualifying from 2007 to 2011.
The Highgate course is the pick of the two courses at Enville and provides a good test off the whites at 6703 yards (albeit a par 72 with four par 5's), especially as this September there was not a lot of run. The 1st is a nice gentle par 5 with the tee shot inviting you onto the course. The opening seven holes are very much heathland and for me the most enjoyable stretch of the course, with a couple of short par 4's and heather framing the fairways. The 8th is I guess the start of the woodland stretch (reminds me very much of Woburn), and holes 8 to 13 are a tough stretch including four longish par 4's and the 596 yard par 5 9th hole which requires three good strikes to reach the green; the 503 yard par 5 10th is one of my favourite holes on the course and provides a bit of relief in that (provided you avoid the ditch with your drive) you feel that a birdie is on. The 14th is a nice looking 156 yard par 3 and is followed by the last woodland hole, a par 4 which seems to have been lengthened in recent years. The long par 3 16th looks good but in reality the pond seems to be nearer the tee than the green and is not difficult to carry. After the woodland it is nice to drop back into heathland for the last two holes, the 17th being a really nice par 4 with good fairway bunkering and heather framing the tee shot. Course condition was excellent with the greens true and of good pace, some of the best I have played on this year; very good practice facilities as well. Overall Enville provides a fine 36 holes of golf that seems to slip a bit below the radar of many people, and I suggest that if it were in Surrey or Berkshire it would be much better known and also be a strong candidate to be a top 100 English ranked course. Although I give it a 4 ball rating the Highgate is very close to a 5 ball (just not sure of the woodland mixed into the heathland), but one thing is for sure more people should make the effort to play Enville.
Enville is an extremely intriguing 36 hole golf complex located in deepest Staffordshire countryside that is slowly but surely building a reputation as one of the country’s most respected venues.
The current Highgate and Lodge courses both possess nine holes of superb woodland and nine holes of inspiring heathland.
Prior to my first visit in August 2014 I had spoken to several people who had played here, including a handful of members, and I was yet to hear a bad word said about either course. I therefore arrived with high hopes… and did not leave disappointed. A subsequent visit a couple of years later confirmed what I already knew - Enville is well worth a visit.
It doesn’t take long to realise that you are at a special venue. The opening hole on the Highgate course has a distinct air of quality about it; a shortish par five that fits the land perfectly and has some excellent bunkering on the approach to the green.
In fact the first seven holes are a class act, played over beautiful heathland with lovely bunkering. After a strong par three at the second the third and fourth are both relatively short par fours but ask you to work the ball both ways. Once again the bunkering is exceptional, especially at the latter.
Whilst many of the fairways on this opening stretch are generous there is very little semi-rough which means that the heather starts almost immediately on both sides of the short stuff. I really liked this feature of the course on the Highgate and also, as it would transpire, on the holes towards the end of the round on the Lodge.
The lovely seventh, with a big dip in the fairway which allows you to hit a shorter club off the tee than you might think, is the last of the heathland golf until you return to this fantastic piece of land for the final two holes.
The remainder of the course is played through mature woodland and whilst this stretch doesn’t quite have the magic of the open heathland, and inevitably plays a little bit softer, there are some excellent holes.
The variety of holes is noticeable on both courses. All are individual in nature but work extremely well collectively. It’s also good to see that the Club are promoting heather regeneration on the heathland part of the courses.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.