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Enville (The Highgate)

Stourbridge, England
Stourbridge, England
Rankings
  • AddressHighgate Common, Enville, Stourbridge DY7 5BN, UK
  • Championships hosted

Enville Golf Club is set on the edge of the Black Country, five miles to the northwest of Stourbridge. The location is bucolic and once formed part of Enville Hall Estate, the ancestral home of the Earls of Stamford and Warrington.

Enville Golf Club was established in 1935 by a group of golfers from Stourbrige and Churchill & Blakedown Golf Clubs who wanted a course of their own. Sir John Grey agreed to lease the land (known as Enville Common) on which the first course was laid out. Alf Padgham – 1936 Open Champion – was consulted on the design and the fledgling golf club was underway with its first 9-hole layout, which was built by construction foreman Arthur Wrigglesworth.

Although Wrigglesworth had never played golf, he became Enville’s first professional and over the next five years he laid out five new holes until his untimely death in 1940. Horace Lewis then took over as club professional and subsequently brought the hole total up to eighteen.

In 1972, Frank Pennink added another nine holes to the club’s portfolio, and by 1983 a further nine was added by Ron Hinton, Enville Golf Club's long-standing club professional since 1955.

In 1985, the club produced a booklet titled The First Fifty Years. “During the construction of the third nine holes in the woodland, three stones (erected to commemorate the replanting of trees to replace those hewn down to smelt iron-ore in the furnaces along the River Stour) were re-sited near the 16th tee of the present Highgate course.”

“The final nine holes, constructed in the Lodge Plantation, were brought into use on Captain’s day in 1983 and the 36 holes were reorganised into two courses of 18 holes each, identified as The Highgate Course and The Lodge Course respectively.”

The architectural provenance of both courses is rather complicated, as each of Enville’s courses comprise of some holes designed by Alf Padgham, Arthur Wrigglesworth, Horace Lewis and Frank Pennink.

Ron Hinton laid out 9 holes (4-12 on today’s Lodge course) within the Lodge Plantation on the other side of Enville Common Road, so the provenance of these holes is clear.

Muddled architectural origin aside, the Highgate course is generally considered to be a whisker better than the Lodge layout, but there is very little to choose between the two. Both courses have a split heathland and forest personality and both play across near perfect sandy golfing terrain.

A short par five starts proceedings on the Highgate, providing a genuine birdie opportunity. One of the Highgate’s best holes arrives at the heather-flanked short par four 4th which doglegs right to a punchbowl green.

The 5th is a pretty one-shotter and the stroke index one 6th is a brute which plays nearly 450 yards from the back tee. The short par four 7th presents another real birdie opportunity and it’s the last of this first loop of heathland holes, which wouldn’t look out of place on any of Surrey or Berkshire’s top-ranked heathland courses.

The 8th hole through to the 16th hole takes golfers on a journey through some magnificent woodland, which is slowly but surely being managed with a view to reinstating the ground’s heathland character. Special mention must be made to the wonderful double-doglegging 12th with its wild roller coastering fairway, and the long one-shot 16th where the only water feature on either course waits to catch out the hapless golfer.

The last two holes on the Highgate traverse the heathland on their way back to the charming clubhouse, which was originally the estate’s farmhouse. If anyone dare doubt the Highgate’s golfing pedigree, it staged Open Championship Regional Qualifying from 2007 to 2011.

We must thank England’s Diane Bailey (a top amateur golfer and winning Curtis Cup Captain) for helping us to unravel Enville’s historical background. Diane has been connected to Enville Golf Club for more than sixty years:

“When I started [at Enville], aged 12, I was made so welcome, there were no restrictions for me as a junior, whatsoever. I could play at any time and I could play in all the competitions. Mind you, when one day I was wearing what we then called "pedal pushers", now known as "crops", I was sent home and told to wear trousers or a skirt! Mr Lewis was the Pro and Mrs Lewis the caterer. She always made fresh scones for me for teatime, my favourite.”

Enville Golf Club is set on the edge of the Black Country, five miles to the northwest of Stourbridge. The location is bucolic and once formed part of Enville Hall Estate, the ancestral home of the Earls of Stamford and Warrington.

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Course Architect

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Frank Pennink

In an architectural career lasting nearly four decades, Pennink designed dozens of courses in many far flung corners of the world; from Indonesia and Malaysia in Asia to Morocco and Zambia in Africa.

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