Whittington Heath - Staffordshire - England

Whittington Heath Golf Club,
Tamworth Road,
Lichfield,
Staffordshire,
WS14 9PW,
England


  • +44 (0) 1543 432317

Whittington Heath Golf Club is tucked away on an elevated heathland plateau in middle England where there are delightful views across to nearby Lichfield Cathedral. The course has never appeared in a Top 100 list but we think it's well worth seeking out if in the Staffordshire area.

It's one of the oldest clubs in England, originally founded in 1886 when a rudimentary nine-hole course was laid out on a former horse racing circuit. Whittington Heath really came of age between the Wars when Harry Colt was commissioned by the military club owners to extend the course to 18 holes. The military connection remains strong and the club was known for many years as Whittington Barracks.

The result of Colt's work was a challenging 6,490-yard par 70 course, which provided a real test for golfers of all levels. The club has hosted a number of top amateur events, including the 1986 Women's Home Internationals, which saw the Irish team emerge victorious.

Sandy, springy ground is ideal for golf and there's plenty of it here at Whittington Heath. The course wends its way through tangly heather and gorse: you'll need to keep on the straight and narrow to score well.

Whittington Heath has consistently flown under the radar and remains a relatively unknown heathland course. Unfortunately, the club was directly in the path of the new HS2 (High Speed Two) rail link, so if you've not already experienced the original Colt course, you've left it too late.

The old clubhouse was directly in the path of the new rail line, as were holes #9 and #18 – holes #2, #3, #6, #7 and #10 were also impacted. Fortunately, the club was able to acquire sufficient adjacent heathland to allow Jonathan Gaunt to lay out some new holes, the architect will also reroute some of the existing holes to accommodate the railway development.

A 15-month construction program began at the start of 2019, involving the renovation of all bunkers, the remodelling of green surrounds and the introduction of five holes on new ground. Construction is expected to complete in April 2020.

“We’re looking to bring back a much more open, heathland character to the golf course, with wider views of the landscape, as it would have been when Harry Colt was working here in the 1920s,” said Gaunt. “We expect that when the golf course establishes, it will begin to take on that ‘Golden Age’ look – broad expanses of hinterland with rolling features and dramatic areas of wilderness edging into the playing areas.”

When established, it remains to be seen whether or not the new Whittington Heath course will receive more or less affection than the club's former classic.

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Reviews for Whittington Heath

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Description: Whittington Heath Golf Club is tucked away on an elevated heathland plateau in middle England where there are delightful views across to nearby Lichfield Cathedral. Rating: 6.4 out of 10 Reviews: 9
TaylorMade
David Baxter

Following on from my first visit to Whittington Heath in 2017, I went again in 2018 and liked it even more and so thinking it was one of those under-rated courses that just grows on you I have just revisited in June 2019. Despite the wet weather in the preceding days the course played remarkably well with no standing water whatsoever. Course condition was excellent with the greens firm in excellent condition and of reasonable pace considering the rain. Looking at my previous review I think I underestimated the number of good holes, infact I liked them all.

HS2 (which should run through the golf course) is already having an affect on Whittington Heath, including the construction of five new holes. Foundations are already in place for the new clubhouse and from the drawings displayed in the clubhouse it should be impressive. On the course itself it is quite apparent that a lot of works is being carried out in respect of altering existing holes with many new tees and bunkers sprouting up.

The first hole is currently a par 5 (becomes 18 and a par 4 on the redesign) and just beyond the green the trees have been removed (for the new clubhouse) and beyond this you can clearly see the earthworks and construction of the new holes on the lower land below. This is where nagging questions start popping up in my head as you can clearly see a large new modern 'American' style bunker with convoluted edges. As the round progresses my sense of disappointment grows as on quite a few holes existing 'Colt' style small bunkers have been replaced with these modern style bunkers, with a corresponding amount of earth banking around changing the whole look of some of the existing green complexes. Also some of these new modern style bunkers crop up in new locations. It is quite apparent to me that once the new holes are in play it is going to be a different looking/new style of course and in my opinion it is very disappointing that the architect did not have the wit to match up with the existing Colt design. I think it is also fair to say that of our fourball, one of group agreed with me, one was fine with the changes and the other hadn't played the course before so didn't comment. Whether it is sacrilege or evolution or progress I guess depends on the individual.

Still worth a visit and I will return next year to see how the changes are going .. can't increase my previous rating though !

June 19, 2019
6 / 10
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Christian Sarginson
June 22, 2019

Hi David,

Glad you enjoyed our course, as you say things are rapidly changing and to be honest apart from the trainline it is most definitely for the better.

A note on the bunkers, the club have found old aerials and photos of the course from a time much closer to the colt design. I can assure you the new bunkers are far more in keeping with his original shapes than the small rounded ones that went before. Over time many golden era architects’ features were softened, made more uniform and in the main more boring through the 70s and 80s. Jonathan Gaunt has purposefully designed the new course to bring back the golden age design elements.

Together with our new course manager, who has made a significant difference to condition and presentation in less than two months, you can already see things being taken to the next level.

All we need now is for HS2 to not go ahead!

Anyway I hope you return next year, or maybe later in the summer to see how things are bedding in.

Kind Regards

Christian

David Baxter

Enjoyed Whittington Heath very much. Although not too much heather in evidence (compared to Surrey heathland courses) it was very pleasant with a number of holes where strategic placement of the drive was important. Condition was generally good, albeit greens were on the slow side and some bunkers had a lack of sand. Absolutely loved the narrowness of the fairways (can't think of any narrower ones I've played), which with the narrow width of semi and then penal rough plus the excellently located fairway bunkers made it a really good driving course. Quite a few dogleg par 4 holes, including 5, 6, 8 and 11 which were probably my favourites, although the well bunkered par 3 7th was also very good. I thought the front 9 had more variety with two par 5's, with the 18th possibly the least interesting hole. I guess the big test for WH will be how the changes due to the HS2 manage to keep the classic Colt style of course. Until then at least well worth a visit

May 28, 2017
6 / 10
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iaincmccoll
As a stop over on the road between London and Glasgow, we were looking for a top 100 course to play. Couldn't get a booking at Little Aston or Beau Desert, and thought that Whittington Heath might be a poorish 3rd choice. How wrong we were! This is a great fun course, not overly long but strategic and sporty. A little congested in parts with tees and greens overlapping. Much work has clearly been done in the past few years, clearing away undergrowth and allowing heather to flourish. Greatly enjoyed our round, much more than playing at Woburn earlier on in our trip. I do think this course should be in the top 100 English courses, if only for the fun and enjoyment factor.
September 11, 2014
8 / 10
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bennett
This course is in great danger - ironic that in the year it made 'the top 200 golf courses' was also the year that the proposed route of the new high speed rail link was announced and disects the course.Unless the opposition is effective, it will be WHGC RIP.
January 16, 2011
4 / 10
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thomas
December 06, 2012
Whittington Heath is an extremely good sand-based course and a very good test of golf. I can't think of any weak holes. It's a Harry Colt design so plenty of thought is needed in course management. Miss a green on the wrong side and you're unlikely to get up and down. It plays firm and fast and has lots of bunkers and lovely greens, the 10th, 12th, 14th and 16th greens being particularly evil to putt on. The par-3's are all strong. I liked the fact that the rough, which is by no means penal, has been tapered in slightly at 250-300 yds off the tee which makes things a bit more interesting. I thoroughly recommend this course. A great shame it's under threat from the new HS2 railway line. All the best to WHGC in your campaign to have the proposed line re-routed.
bennett
This once was a beautiful course and deserves the accolades awarded here.Unfortunately a great deal of the forestation has been removed much to the detriment of the course. Tree removal is understandable if they damage the tees and greens by starving them of light and nutrients. But this goes far beyond that with whole swathes of tress, many of them substantial, removed adjacent to fareways.The unique definition of each of the holes has been lost. No longer a gem I'm afraid.
February 06, 2010
4 / 10
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In and Out
April 28, 2010
The tree removal which has been going on for three years is part of a long term project to re establish the heathland credentials of the course. Heather is encouraged to grow again in many places but this is a slow process and will take years. I note the reviewer played in the winter when the rough is cut. During the summer the fairways are defined both by the trees and mowing. There are enough trees left to define each hole but hopefully they will now not compete with the heather so much.
To Whom It May Conce
April 29, 2010
Colt’s design at Whittington Heath is one of the most varied and crafty in the Midlands. There are problems with trees not allowing light to the greens such as on #s 6 & 7, but for the most part the fairway corridors are very generous. For some reason the club sees fit to grow very penal rough well inside the tree-lines, sometimes constricting fairways to approximately 20 yards wide in the driving zones. Often times, there is more rough than fairway in the corridors! This style of course presentation has in essence robbed much of the joy this great design has to offer. Here is hoping the club realizes what a gem of a course it has and continues with the heather regeneration by cutting back most of the rough.
Ally McIntosh
May 04, 2010
Intriguing to see differing points of views here... I congratulate the club on tree removal and trying to reintroduce the heathland feel... Why do we need trees to "frame" the holes? Aside from the loss of heather and sunlight, heavily tree lined courses can become monotonous to the eye, something that never occurs with long distance open vistas... Not to mention negating the effect of wind... For interest, you should look at as many old photos as you can of some of England's heathland gems... Mostly open with very few trees to be seen...
pbt
November 23, 2010
Well done on removing the trees. Far better to have the heather and some open views, than some arbitrary "definition".
Steve Clark
I did'nt know what to expect from this course, but was greeted with a pleasant suprise. This is a really nice, traditional course that is pretty challenging but not too long. I think this could be in the top 100 in England, although maybe I should play a few more courses before stating this. Loads of interesting holes here, particulalry the par threes and some of the short par fours. Play it!
August 13, 2009
8 / 10
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Robert Smith
Played here (for the first time) on Thursday 21st May in a Society day I had organised. A real "hidden gem" that was in superb condition. The opening par 5 saw me standing on the tee looking at a fairway that from where I stood looked about as wide as a postage stamp! Some severe rough in places, and if you found yourself in it be prepared to drop a shot (or two). And the bunkers!! Loads of them, guarding every green from every angle. Played 27 holes and enjoyed every one of them (except the 5th which I messed up both times!) Some gorgeous sweeping fairways and the greens were nice and quick and evenly paced. Will defintely be going back to play again next year...there were 36 players in our Society and not one complaint. Everybody commented favourably on the condition of the course, the welcome in the clubhouse, etc.My only "negative" comment would be that a couple of holes see you hitting over the top (or very close) to other greens so you have to wait for them to clear before you can drive off. But a small price to pay to play here.Highly recommended
May 23, 2009
8 / 10
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paul turner
Whittington Heath (Barracks) is a good pick as a hidden gem. In fact the course wouldn’t be out of place at the bottom end of the Top 100 in the Isles. The terrain moves just enough to be interesting with fairways that are often crinkled so the ball can sit up or down to complicate matters. And because the fairways have this small movement, most of the greens have subtle little folds and rolls that take some skill in reading. Lots of quality golf here with the finishing stretch 12-18 being perhaps the best. All the par 3s are excellent and there’s a good mix of greens that encourage a shaped, run up shot. The only thing I didn’t like was a redone, pushed up, 6th green that sticks out like a sore thumb. The course would benefit greatly from tree felling to get the HEATH back in Whittington.
September 02, 2007
8 / 10
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Hugh
I'd never heard of Whittington Heath and I decided to visit this course after it was added to this website and I like playing the hidden, less well known courses.This is a just a super course, very understated but a truly memorable experience and great value for money. It's not the longest track, but it's a challenge finding the well-guarded greens. I'd definatley like to come back here and play it again, it's such a relaxing experience.
December 02, 2004
6 / 10
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