Although members club Sandwell Park GC situated 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, they have flown under the radar a little in recent times in regard to visitor and society golf. With a new management team in charge, things are changing rapidly and there’s no better year than this to make a major mark.
Sandwell Park celebrates their 125th this year and despite the current situation, they are determined to make it a special one. The club has made a superb start to life after lockdown with an impressive rise in membership numbers and a packed out golf course. They are extending their appeal to reach out to new lady members too and in 2021 will welcome both of the leading junior tours in the country to host Order of Merit events here. For professionals and leading amateurs, the news is good too, the well established Jamega Tour is here for a two-day event in late August this year.
MG REVIEW – MAY 25TH Editors Phil & Mandy
Our dry spring had left the course a little fiery in places for our visit in late May. But that was fine for Sandwell Park and kind of apt too, because here they are in the midst of a program intent on restoring the layout back to its heathland roots, how it was when HS Colt designed it as such in 1895. Course manager Rob explains in greater detail later, but when it’s all done Sandwell Park will play like no other course in the surrounding Birmingham area.
The course begins strongly, ushering you into the challenge with three nice looking but tough par fours, everything in full view, gently undulating tree-lined fairways heading up towards similarly challenging greens and surrounds. The bunkering is always noticeable too and well placed, all of the traps are set to be redesigned to merge neatly into the restored heathland environment here.
More great sights from the tee and two par fives run in succession at five and six, the former offers the better birdie opportunity, shorter in length and a little more width too. Next, there’s a particularly gorgeous looking short seventh hole, the putting surface flanked by a pair of long rounded traps, snaking their way around on either side. It’s a good club selection too from the exposed slightly raised tee.
The ninth takes you neatly back to the side of the clubhouse making a two hour round here an easy alternative.
The beginning of the inward half offers a little more openness than before, work is ongoing to remove the trees between 11 and 13 to give that area a real linksy feel.
Fittingly, situated as we are in Sandwell Valley the back nine becomes all the more challenging and spectacular looking too when you come across 14 and 15. Both have a good carry to negotiate towards low lying valley bed fairways, then you’re looking at raised tabletop greens for your approach shots, super golf holes.
The signature and picture book short 16th is named Peter’s Folly, dedicated to legendary BBC commentator Peter Alliss who shot a six on this par three when he played an exhibition match to mark the re-opening of the hole back in 1970. Although I proudly managed to halve that score, it’s easy to see how a big number can be racked up, it’s a tough tee shot down the bank and the green is well defended with steep banking awaiting at the rear, I imagine that’s where Peter ended up! My ball clung on for dear life at the edge of the green, Mandy’s lost itself in the undergrowth, my lone triumph of the day!
Gently uphill to the beautiful looking clubhouse on 18 which also features the green fronting captain’s bunker, this has to be the largest of such in the region! Managed to miss that but three-putted on the huge putting surface, that mistake is easily done and final words must go to the quality of the greens here, simply superb and occasionally too much for your average mid-handicapper to conquer. Everything here is setting itself up for a high quality and reliable Championship standard track as more events come around, but also one that amateur golfers can thoroughly enjoy too. Senior players also appreciate the generally easy walking involved and easy access to the clubhouse and car park at the end of each loop of nine.
SuperMex comes to Sandwell – Lee Trevino plays a round, July 1974
Rob Lydon – Course Manager
“The long term plan is to get the course back to Colt standard, from when he designed it. Lots of winter work has already gone on and there’s more to come in order to bring it up to a completely functional 12 months of the year layout. Half of the bunkers have been re-designed in heathland/links-style and we’ll encourage the growth of traditional wild grasses in their surrounds, the remainder will follow in the next 12 months. New pathways and better on course signage are on the way too, we’re looking forward to taking it up to the next level, this course deserves that.”
Be a part of an exciting future
Contact Golf Development Manager Richard Prophet with visitor golf booking and society enquiries/ for corporate events and pro and amateur competition days. Membership is all the rage, and Sandwell Park has a wide range of age-related options and no joining fees, drop him a line to find out more. Junior membership, just £10 for U10s and only £47 up to 18.
An absolute pleasure to come back to one of the places I spent a lot of my younger years representing @staffsgolfclubs Brilliant course in even better condition. Full credit to @sandwellgreens at @SandwellGolf EASILY one of the best in the Midlands – Richard Mansell – June 5th 2020.