Edgbaston Golf Club Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Kevin Heggie
When you think of sport and Edgbaston, most people will be drawn towards the famous cricket ground, home to some of England's most famous matches. However, hidden away within the leafy Edgbaston suburbs, amongst some extremely impressive (and expensive!) looking Victorian townhouses, you will also find Edgbaston Golf Club.
Edgbaston is a mature parkland course designed by renowned architect Harry S. Colt, and was one of his final projects within his architecture/design portfolio, bearing the hallmarks of his design philosophy with some interesting routing, memorable bunkering, and subtle rather than severe greens.
One of the other big features of Edgbaston is the majestic clubhouse which sits imposingly in front of the practice green and 9th green. Having had the pleasure of visiting a few historic clubhouses in recent years such as Sunningdale, Royal St George's, and St George's Hill, this building is certainly up there in terms of everything you want from a clubhouse and terrace, and is a great place to watch groups go out.
Front 9 Overview
After a brief warm up on the putting green and in the nets, we teed off to the left of the clubhouse, and found that Edgbaston provided a relatively firm ‘gentle handshake’ - it expects you to hit the ground running from the get go. Whilst the 1st hole isn’t long, the fairway is tight and cambered, and anything left or right is likely to see you dealing with trees as you attempt to get to the well protected green. The 2nd hole, the first of a number of lengthy par 4s, gently doglegs left, but demands an exacting tee shot to the right of the fairway to open up an opportunity to hit the green in two.
Respite comes at the 3rd, with the first of Edgbastons par 3s. Whilst not long, distance control is key here, as you fire at the green through a narrow chute of trees. The 4th is the first hole which gives you a little more room for error from the tee. Again, a gentle dogleg left opens up the view to the green protected by bunkers and run offs, favouring a drive to the right hand side of the fairway.
The 5th might be my favourite hole on the front. A great mid-length par 3, with a sliver of a green which angles away from the tee box, protected by a number of bunkers along the front. Due to the design of the green, the yardage can vary by a couple of clubs, with the far right pin location we faced certainly upping the difficulty level significantly! From this part of the course you then start to meander back towards the clubhouse to complete the front 9. The stern par 4 6th requires two exacting, and likely long, shots to get to the back to front green, followed by the third par 3 of the front, a delightful short hole framed by trees and with ‘Old Joe’, the clock tower from the local University campus in the background.
Finally, a further two testing par 4s complete the front, with the 9th finishing in front of the imposing clubhouse, where the watching gallery adds a little more pressure to the approach and putts on a two-tiered green.
Back 9 Overview
Continuing a theme of tough par 4s, The back 9 kicks off with the second hardest hole on the course. If you’ve decent driver length you may be able to catch the downslope on the fairway, reducing the second to a mid-short iron. However, most players will be left with a hybrid or wood if they hope to reach in two, so par here is more than satisfactory. The 11th is the first of three short par 4s on the back 9, and introduces some nice variety to how you can play it.
In my view, this hole is a great example of a well designed short par 4. If you’re feeling confident, you can attempt to drive the green, but anything off line and will likely find yourself scrambling for par. The more conservative approach is to lay up and wedge on, but the green is tricky, with run offs ready to throw your ball away from the putting surface if your approach is slightly off line. The 12th takes you down towards Edgbaston pool, and the lowest part of the course. Again, accuracy off the tee is essential if you’re to score well, and if you can use the right to left fairway to your advantage you should have a good chance of a birdie.
The 13th begins with the tee box placed on the edge of the pool, with wildlife in touching distance. It also throws a challenge at you as to where to aim - the actual tee box points you to the safety of the right hand side of the fairway, but this leaves you a much longer second when compared to a drive which hugs the left hand tree line. Anything left here and you’re re-teeing. The only par 3 on the back 9 follows, again presenting a good chance to claw a shot back, and this is then followed by a couple of short par 4s.
The first of the short par 4s takes you up a hill towards the clubhouse, and the protection is all around the green, so judging the pitch in is key. From here you’re then teeing off back down the hill to a gettable par 4, with the Birmingham skyline on the horizon. Again, there are plenty of options as to how to play this, from a couple of short irons to driver, but the further you attempt to hit it more tree trouble comes into play, so beware! The uphill 17th is the only par 5 on the course, and represents a good birdie opportunity, before the final hole sends you back towards the clubhouse, with a severely sloping fairway adding to the challenge of getting home in regulation.
There are a lot of things to like about Edgbaston, and it’s easy to understand why Golfshake readers have assessed it as Highly Recommended. First and foremost, the condition of the course was excellent, with greens running smoothly and at a good pace but without the risk of embarrassment! The collection of par 3s is also strong, with a nice variety in length giving most players an opportunity at birdie if they find the green in one.
Additionally, the off course experience was very hospitable, and the friendly vibe from pro shop to clubhouse was appreciated, with excellent quality food and beverages available. If I could change a few things, I'd like to see a little more width in some of the fairways, a few trees thinned out, and a little bit more variety in the holes - there is an abundance of consecutive strong par 4s, many playing like par 4.5s, so maybe a couple could be extended to par 5s? However, these are minor issues, and given the constraints of the plot, are likely to be realistic in fulfilling! Despite it appearing short on the scorecard, anyone visiting who is hoping to score well would need to hit a relative straight, long ball to do well.
As with many historic courses in the UK, Edgbaston have also been investing in the course, and are working to finish the bunker restoration project to Harry Colt's original design, in partnership with world renowned architect firm Mackenzie & Ebert. This will commence in the Autumn of this year, and should further enhance the playability and visuals of the course.
It’s also great to see a focus on sustainability, when there’s so much focus and misinformation flying around with regards to golf and its environmental impact. As such, the club is working tirelessly to become a more sustainable, more popular and a more efficient golf club, and achieve GEO Certification. Projects that have benefitted the club and the membership are the introduction of wildflower meadows and beehives, with the club now producing award winning honey to sell.
The Midlands is often an overlooked region in terms of golf, with The Belfry taking the majority of visitor traffic focused on playing the Brabazon. However, for those looking to create a more bespoke golf trip to the UK's second city, I’d recommend Edgbaston, alongside the likes of Little Aston and Sutton Coldfield to make for a highly enjoyable trip both on and off course.
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