Olton Golf Club Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Mel Davies, July 2019
Olton is a private, mature parkland golf course founded in 1893 set in 95 acres that is just a mile away from Solihull and a few minutes’ drive from M42. It is known for its greens and the layout is influenced by highly esteemed designer Harry Colt.
The course is also a short distance away from Birmingham Airport, so if you have a liking for planes you get to see many coming and going during the duration of your visit.
I was greeted upon arrival by Chris Low, the Deputy Course Manager who gave me a quick briefing on the venue. The first thing you notice after getting your clubs and walking towards the course is one of the biggest practice putting greens you will ever see. The clubhouse has a very traditional bright and airy feel to it. Members and visitors changing rooms are inside along with a spike bar and a more traditional dining/lounge area. There is also a well-stocked Pro Shop (Charles Haynes is the Head Pro). After changing we headed out for some putts and boy, were we in for a treat! Running at 11.2 on the stimpmeter the green was so pure and true it was like putting on a snooker table! There is a small but adequate range and also an AstroTurf chipping area which are both of top quality. Having read some Golfshake reviews from the last 18 months or so I knew we were in for a treat as each one had ranked five stars and the greens seemed to be the one thing that caught the eye.
Such is Olton's continually improving standing, it was considered among Golfshake's Rising Stars in the West Midlands.
Lovely mornings golf @OltonGolfClub and always great to hand over the latest @golfshake Highly Recommended window sticker. Pictured with me are @c86low (Deputy Course Manager) and @smudgersmith791 (Course Manager) pic.twitter.com/mmcIHiNNXg— M Davies? (@MJD9b450) July 16, 2019
Front 9 Overview
The first two holes are as nice but tough as you are likely to find anywhere, 453 and 413 yard par 4s off the whites (which we were invited to play off) means that you have to be on your game from the off! You'll notice that at Olton is they like a bunker or two. We will talk more about them later. The 3rd is your first proper chance at a birdie at 307 yards but don't be fooled as an errant tee shot can still lead to danger with OOB left and trees right with bunkers awaiting any miss-hit shots.
The 4th is the second time that the same ditch comes into play in total for approach shots which I thought was pretty remarkable. 5th is the first par 3 but don't get too excited as the green is 200 yards away, well protected by bunkers so requires an accurate long iron/hybrid to a sloping green that makes two putts anything but a formality. The 6th and 7th are both scoreable if you get your tee shot away. The 8th is the second and slightly easier par 3 on the front but well positioned bunkers are ready for anything just off-line.
Back 9 Overview
The start to the back nine offers up a relatively straightforward hole at 425 yards but OOB is left again and trees as always are ready for anything wide. The 11th is the first par 5 on the course and could offer up a birdie or even eagle for the big hitters as it only measures 468 yards. It does dog-leg to the left with a cleverly placed bunker at driving distance on the right.
For the better players a birdie is a must here, the 12th and 13th at 308 yards (par 4) and 138 yards (par 3) again offer up chances of birdie but like every hole here anything off-line and trees and bunkers are ready to gobble anything up.
The 14th along with the last were the holes that really caught my eye. You can see the whole length of the hole (428 yards), a ditch runs down the left (OOB) and trees to the right make a good straight drive a necessity if reaching the green in two, but a new fairway bunker down the left/middle is well placed to put a dampener on what you would think was a good tee shot, a mid/long iron to a narrow green with bunkers left and is needed to get there.
The 15th is a great par 3 at 160 yards slightly uphill to a green with a bunker front right and a green that is angled at about 45 degrees to the right making the bunker come into play considerably, a very well-designed hole! Moving onto the 16th (352 yards) and 17th (336 yards) in my eyes are both about getting the tee shot in play rather than distance to leave a mid/short iron into greens that (yes, you've guessed it) have bunkers ready to consume any shots that aren't hit well.
Finally, the 18th is a truly great finishing hole. Par 5 at 522 yards it can offer up anything from an eagle to a double bogey or worse. A good straight drive (avoiding trees and bunkers) can leave you looking down to the green that is perched below you with the ditch about 20 yards short a bunker front left and two bunkers right, the green like most slopes from back to front so leaving a putt below the hole is the best thing, but this green has a big false front so again nothing comes easy.
The thing we noticed here really is that no two holes are the same. Not once did we think one hole resembled another which leads to a truly great experience in my eyes. The tees are all hand mown, as are the aprons. The fairways all have a nice layer of grass on them. The rough is not really long but it's thick enough to affect any shots no matter how long or short from it.
The aprons are up there with any course I've played. The bunkers are probably the best I've come across (and I found my fair share) they have all been redone apart from the 8th and 13th (these are still great and are in the pipeline to be done anyway). And the greens, of the greens, I can honestly say I haven't putted on any greens like these before. Not a blemish on them, fast, tricky, but the roll is as true and pure as you will find. When you read so many good comments on a certain aspect sometimes its hard to live up to the expectations, but Olton really didn't disappoint here.
I cannot believe I had not even heard of Olton until I was asked to carry out the review seeing how great the whole experience was. Everything about the course was as good as you will find. It is a great test for all golfers, yet at the same time offers up the chance for any level of player to go out and have a truly wonderful round. I met up again with Chris and also Mark Smith (Course Manager) for a drink and chat and you can see how much pride they take in the course and the roles they and their team play. The patio overlooking the course and practice green is a great setting to sit, relax and talk over your experience and enjoyment of an exceptional course.
Overall Rating - 10
Course (Conditions) - 10
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 9
Course (Green Condition) - 10
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 9
Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 9
Practice Facilities - 8
Friendliness/Hospitality - 10
Pace of Play - 10
Value for Money - 9
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