Little Aston Golf Club is set in 176 acres of tranquil, mature parkland in the former grounds of Little Aston Hall. The club is hidden away on the edge of exclusive suburbia, eight miles north of Birmingham city centre. “A pleasant park course of excellent turf,” wrote Bernard Darwin in Golf Between Two Wars. “This is the kind of golf course which an eighteenth-century English gentleman would have approved.” wrote Patric Dickinson.
Harry Vardon reputedly laid out the course in 1908 for ten guineas. He had a charming and elegant piece of parkland to work with and succeeded in creating probably the best and toughest true parkland course in England. As it turned out, Vardon had created a course with long and challenging carries that ultimately proved too hard for the members, so Harry Colt was summoned to make the course friendlier. Mark Lewis (the club’s professional for over 40 years during the first half of the 20th century) must also be credited for taking Little Aston through to maturity.
The course is always maintained immaculately and even in the winter it plays well for a parkland layout and the club is justifiably proud of the quality of their large greens and of their trademark Colt bunkers. The undulating formal tree lined fairways ensure that you get a private and picturesque walk in the park.
Above all, Little Aston is an honest golf course. There are no tricks, and everything is clearly laid out in front of you. The first two holes are fairly ordinary but at the third, things start to get better with a testing short par five that cajoles you into opening your shoulders. There are a number of good golf holes here at Little Aston but it will take two or three rounds before you really begin to appreciate this golf course. It is therefore feasible that you might come away disappointed after playing here for the first time.
Little Aston has hosted many important amateur and professional events, including the British Masters, held here on five separate occasions, most recently in 1969.
Birmingham isn’t at the top of the list for golfing breaks, despite the fact that there are some excellent golf courses in this area, including Beau Desert, Whittington Heath and, of course, the Belfry. But if you do decide to visit this area, make sure you play Little Aston. It’s the best course in the Midlands.
Mixed reviews, parkland, parched fairways .. was I going to like Little Aston ?. Answer is Yes. Despite the spell of dry weather the greens were really very good, hand cut and without blemish. The course is obviously parkland but because of the dry conditions played more like a hard running heathland course. A thinking persons course with noticeable strategic fairway bunkering (Colt's influence ?) which certainly made one think about the tee shots. The huge cross bunker at 14 undoubtedly catches many drives of the first time visitor (including me) and there was a similar cross bunker short of the 18th green which I also fell foul of. I didn't think there were any poor holes but maybe no stand-out feature holes. The short par 4 4th was an odd stroke index 1 and I thought easier than the short par 4 14th which was stroke index 16. The 9th was a nice looking par 3 and this led you into a more testing back nine with much variety, including lakes at 12 and 17 (arguably the best hole) which once again need thinking about. So where does the course rank ?. In places reminded me of Whittingham Heath, not as interesting as Beau Desert and in my opinion falls just behind the surrey heathland courses such as Camberley Heath and West Hill. Overall a strong 4 ball for me
A course that clearly divides opinion ! I can see where some of the negative reviews generate from as the first 4 holes are bland - the par 5, 3rd hole is awful with trees encroaching everywhere. The course seems to be between genres in that it is described as parkland but the better areas of the course have a heathland feel such as holes 6. 7, 9, 10, 13 and 15. These are both the most aesthetically pleasing holes and the best designed (the 9th and 10th are top, top holes) . If I could play God for a moment, I would dispense with a couple of thousand trees and plant gorse / heather and go for a pure heathland look ( retain trees yes but keep them 50 yards from fairways). The design is good enough to support the change and it would then sit just below the Ws. It would take all the controversy out of the rankings debate. As it is, it is no better than a 4 ball and in some ways lucky to be on the top 100 list, especially when manifestly better courses such as Gailes, Parkstone, Sherwood Forest, Southerness, both Archerfields and Rosapenna (OTM) don't make the list.
Having read some mixed reviews I nearly didn’t play this little gem of a course. I have nothing but praise for the course and the Pro who was very helpful.
The course was in excellent condition for the time of year. I have recommended the course to my friends and would play it again without hesitation.
Well worth a visit if you are in the area. A great parkland course which is well bunkered off the tee.
Having previously only played holes 3-11 in what can be described as some of the worst weather conditions i ever have, i finally returned yesterday and am very pleased I did.
This course is an exceptional parkland course and i dont understand some of the negative comments. The back 9 is simply sublime, every single hole tests a different aspect of your game, and despite the greens being quite 'soft', they still ran very true and i can only imagine that in the summer the will be like glass.
The par 5 are brilliant here, especially 3 and 15, whilst the par 3s are also glorious.
you could argue that 18 is one of the weaker holes on the course.
I agree that the course is a level below Notts/Woodhall etc but these are heathland courses. I think its comfortably a better course than Blackwell, and is on a similar level to the 3 Ws in Surrey
Little Aston is a traditional golf club that exudes excellence both on and off the course.
There are several bunkers strategically placed throughout the 18 holes. I didn’t count them all but I suspect it will be close to 100 in total. You may think this is a bit excessive but virtually everyone helps dictate play to all standards of player. Add to this generous fairways, with varying degrees of width, and it means there is usually an option to bypass the hazards if you so wish albeit, and as it should be, making your next shot much harder than if you tackled the hazards head on.
As a result of the numerous sand traps, both fairway and greenside, placement is often crucial from the tee and missing the green on the wrong side is usually damaging for your scorecard. There is a nice variety of holes and thus you are asked to work the ball both ways from tee and fairway.
Driving the ball well at Little Aston is only one piece of the jigsaw but probably the most important. If you find a bunker from the tee-shot it is unlikely you will be able to reach the green in regulation as they are quite deep and many have high lips.
Meanwhile the putting surfaces are large and although they do have some significant breaks and borrows it often doesn’t feel that way due to their size and the gradual nature of the slopes.
Having played most of the top courses in the West Midlands I would personally place Little Aston behind Beau Desert but just ahead of Enville and Blackwell. One thing for certain is that if you like high quality, well-manicured parkland golf in a tranquil setting with lots of strategic options you will love Little Aston.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
My friends and I are working our way through the Top 100 and I have played at least half of them. I'm not sure how Little Aston made it into the Top 100 in England let alone Britain and Ireland. It was a pleasant afternoon but nothing more than that. Without the bunkers the course would be nothing at all and the stroke indexes (or is it indices) didn't appear to make any sense at all. We played Beau Desert the next day and I am pleased to say that Beau Desert is a proper golf course. My rating would be even lower if it reflected the facilities too. The Club doesn't allow people to eat on the terrace and so we were asked to walk through the changing facilities to eat in a small dingy room elsewhere. We didn't stop for a drink afterwards because of the poor facilities. I am sorry, Little Aston, but we will not be returning.
Totally agree. There are some strange ratings in this top 100 but this one really takes the biscuit. A glorified, members parkland course with small elevation changest and few memorable holes. Its saying something when the best part of the experience is the child friendly practice putting green.
As a midlands course, its ludicrous to rate iit so close to Hollinwell and above Luffenham Heath and even Blackwell. A total mystery why it is rated so highly.