Sutton Coldfield Golf Club co-hosted the English Amateur Championships in 2010 and this free draining heathland layout is unusually configured with consecutive par fives at the 5th, 6th and 7th holes.
Played SCGC recently, the clubhouse is across the road, but was atmospheric. Don't let the 1st two holes fool you, (could they be combined to form one par 4 ?) after that the course explodes into life, with a challenging par 4 and 3 successive par 5's all in different directions and shapes to allow the wind to affect them. It probably has 3 'week' holes which stops the rating being higher for me, but the holes out from the club house further into the common are fabulous, the Par 4 11th, Par 5 13th & par 3 14th are brilliant. It's 'old fashioned' golf, with the greens fenced, and a local rule for dung from the cattle that roam freely, well worth a visit.
Sutton Coldfield is another one of those good quality under stated heathland courses in the midlands. On arrival the clubhouse is somewhat dated and you then have to cross quite a busy road (via a crossing) which separates the clubhouse from the course, so quite unusual, but from thereon everything is more positive. The course was in excellent condition this September with good quality nicely paced greens with plenty of slopes to test the putting skills; much improvement on course condition since my previous visit a year ago so much credit to the greenkeeping staff. The first couple of holes are fairly innocuous but are followed by two excellent par 4's with the dog-leg 4th one of my favourites here. Then, unusually, there are three consecutive par 5's, followed by a birdeable short par 4 albeit with a sloping green. I didn't particularly like the par 3 9th as it seemed more parkland than heathland with the front of the green surrounded by bunkers; infact I thought the adjacent alternative par 3 would have made a much better hole far more in keeping with the heathland style. A good stretch of holes then follows from 10 to 15 including difficult par 4's at 11 and 12. The finish and in particular 17 and 18 did not I think give the course the finish it deserved. An enjoyable course to play
Finding good quality heathland golf north of the Surrey sand-belt is no easy task. However, at Sutton Coldfield, just above Birmingham, you will find a true, fast running course that fits the bill nicely.
Venues such as Little Aston, Beau Desert, Blackwell and The Belfry get touted as the must play courses in the West Midlands. Please add Sutton Coldfield to this list, especially if you enjoy the ground game.
Whilst it may not quite capture the imagination like nearby Beau Desert does there is no denying this is fine heathland golf. Holes such as the 15th, a brilliant par three, belong on any of the country’s finest inland courses. The green settings, along with the actual putting surfaces, at the fifth, sixth and seventh (incidentally consecutive par fives!) are also exceptional.
There are other fine holes too. The third and fourth work well as back-to-back two-shotters, each dog-legging in opposite directions, and the same can be said about the 11th and 12th that play nicely as a twosome. The 14th is also a splendid long hole, again with lovely green contouring, a feature that is prominent throughout at Sutton Coldfield.
What probably holds the course back from greater recognition is a handful of mundane holes, not bad holes but just lacking the sparkle of the aforementioned belters. Holes such as the second, eighth, 10th, 13th and perhaps the last would fall into this bracket, however, multiple plays may change my mind on this.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.