Sandwell Park Golf Club was originally founded as West Bromwich Golf Club in 1895, with members playing on a 9-hole course at Churchfield before the club moved two years later to its current location, closer to Birmingham city centre.
The new 9-hole course opened on Christmas Day 1897 then Harry Vardon played J.H. Taylor in an exhibition match the following November, with both professionals casting an eye over land earmarked for an additional nine. Vardon returned to play James Braid in October 1901 when the new course was brought into play.
Plans were drawn up by Harry Colt in 1911 for a radical reworking of the course and work was carried out while allowing members to play on temporary holes until competitions re-commenced in September 1912.
After World War II, Colt’s design partner John Morrison advised the club then Fred W. Hawtree designed a new 16th hole when the 10th was lost to the M5 motorway in the late 1960s. The modern-day course retains all but four of its original Colt greens (on holes 9 and 16-18).
Mackenzie & Ebert produced a course audit for the club in 2020 and it will be interesting to see to what extent their recommendations on irrigation, tree management and bunkers are subsequently acted upon.
Sandwell Park is located adjacent the West Bromwich junction of the M5, but to be honest traffic noise doesn't seem to be a major issue. A course designed by Harry Colt is generally a positive, and it is a friendly members club that runs plenty of opens which is a great way to play the course. Very much parkland, with a few ditches and a well bunkered course, there are also plenty of slopes to keep you alert. The greens are also a big defence and always seem to be tricky with a number of slopes, so two putting (especially in the summer) can sometimes be quite a test.
The course itself starts with three par 4's all other 400 yards and then the course really gets going with an excellent par 3 of 199 yards across a dip to a fiercely sloping green. The four par 3's are all very good and the 12th is equally as good as the 4th being downhill at 188 yards; 16 is another good downhill par 3 and the 7th is shorter, semi-blind and well bunkered. There are 3 par 5's basically in the middle of the course, the 5th being the pick with a ditch across the front of the green. Par 4's are a good mixture including shorter par 4's, uphill par 4's and and the toughest stretch on the course from 13 to 15. Hole 13 is probably the pick of the holes, 411 yards requiring an accurate tee shot to the brow of the hill to enable you to access the green to your left down what seems like a narrow chute with bunker left and OB right. A nice downhill tee shot at 14 followed by an uphill shot to a green with trouble long and left. Hole 15 is a cracker of a tee shot from high level over an area of to the sloping valley below and then you are faced with a steeply uphill shot to the green at 394 yards off the tee. After the par 3 at 16 then two more good par 4's for a strong finish.
Sandwell is a good course with much variety and I look forward to returning.