Sandwell Park GC, ideally situated just a nine iron’s distance away from junction one of the M5 in West Bromwich has always held a long-standing reputation for having one of the most highly regarded Championship standard layouts in the local area.

Lately they have flown under the radar a little, yet the time for a revival of fortunes is well under way in 2024, under new leadership and on a golf course that is continuing its journey through a long-running programme of improvements.

There’s a fresh younger feel to the club already. The new man at the helm is Andy Smith, a PGA qualified professional who at Sandwell is concentrating fully on the operational side of the club and ensuring it becomes more financially sound too.

There was work to do when he took over in the summer of 2023, turning over a fresh page, he has since then re-organised the management structure and is busy welcoming some new faces to the greenkeeping, catering and coaching ranks.

It’s been an incredibly busy period since we took over and there’s so much to do but we’re progressing nicely so far and we’re very much looking forward to the new season and seeing things nice and busy again.”

A slimmed down four-person decision making structure is now in place with Andy joined by Operations Manager Paul Ward, Course Manager Craig Hartley and  Hospitality Manager Anil Banger.

Andy added; “We are thrilled to announce the formation of our new kitchen team, composed of existing staff members, alongside some fresh faces. Spearheading this exciting venture is our Executive consultant Chef, Jordan Brady, a finalist on the hit TV show ‘Five Star Kitchen.’ With Jordan at the helm, we are eager to embark on a culinary journey that promises innovation, creativity, and exceptional dining experiences for all golfers.”

In 2020 to tie in with their 125th anniversary, Sandwell Park joined up with world famous golf course architects Mackenzie & Ebert. The intention, not just to run a series of course improvements but also to restore the layout back to its original heathland roots, put down in 1895, then re-designed by Harry Colt in 1911.

Despite the upheaval of Covid and unhelpful winters since, the course work remains ongoing, (the picture shows tree clearing work from this winter around the tee.)

Already under the new management, one more member of staff has been added bringing the team up to six, a new fleet of John Deere machinery has been delivered and there’s a new irrigation system in the diary for October of this year.

As far as Andy is concerned this is all about the golf course and bringing it up a standard that cannot fail to impress new members/visitors to the club.

We’ll be giving the clubhouse a lick of paint, but the playing experience is what the golfers are looking for. If the product is right out there, then the new members we’re hoping to attract are only going to be encouraged to return and spread the word around as well. So the course improvements will carry on and we’ll continue to invest further in the coming months.”

The club are set to receive an approximate £3 million boost soon with the proposed sale of a small holding of land, bordering the course but not affecting any of the holes, set to go ahead.

As for membership they are taking a modern approach alongside the more traditional route, and Andy knows the importance of retention too.

We’ve joined up with PlayMore Golf, just to encourage new golfers along. We’re confident we can turn many of them into full-time members eventually by giving them the right sort of experience here. With the existing members we’re working on new events and improving the social calendar here, which hasn’t quite been right in the last few years.”

The new younger feel also extends itself to the pro ranks and the coaching on offer, with two Midlands golfing ladies ready to attract a new generation of juniors and hopefully encourage more lady golfers too. Victoria Mallett is already on-board running group junior sessions and she’ll be joined in June by the newly PGA qualified Ellie Potts (in image two with Andy) who will concentrate on more one-to-one coaching.