It is a venue that squeezes absolutely every ounce of potential out of its site. This is largely due to the excellent bunkering which brings what is otherwise rather uninspiring terrain to life.
That said, at times there is some subtle movement in the land at this exceptionally well conditioned and presented golf course just a couple of minutes off the M42 in Warwickshire.
Admittedly, most of the holes are fairly flat but the sloping right-to-left fairway at the 6th is used brilliantly to help create a wonderful hole that dog-legs slightly to the right and up towards a fine green complex. The green at the 10th is set in a shallow area that we play down to whilst the ground rises modestly for approach shots at the 11th and 14th.
All the short holes have some changes in elevation too and as you would expect from a layout with Harry Colt influence they are all excellent. How much sway Colt had in the actual design of them is up for debate though because from my (brief!) research it was Harry Vardon who laid out the course with Colt mainly responsible for the bunkering later on.
The Club website states;
"Copt Heath was founded in 1907 by Alfred Lovekin. Lovekin had the foresight at the outset to engage Harry Vardon, whose original layout was subsequently enhanced by Harry S Colt. The famous Colt up-swept bunker faces adorn the course on 96 occasions to trap the bad and, sometimes, not so bad, shot."
Two of the one-shotters arrive early on (at the 3rd and 5th) and constitute a longish one to a slanted green followed by a much shorter one (particularly when played to a font flag) that has a brilliant raised, and very long, green. There is only one further short hole and we must wait until the 13th for this pretty 167-yarder which is played over an old clay pit. I suspect this is the most photographed hole at Copt Heath - and it's a very good one too - but I'd argue the the first two, especially the 5th are even better holes.
The remainder of the round consists of a series of par fours and a pair of par fives although with a tail wind the 483-yard 7th can perhaps be treated as a long par four for bigger hitters. There is a wide range in the length of the two-shotters. We are thrown in at the deep end as the round commences with two holes around the 450-yard mark! Towards the end of the round the 16th is also of similar length and with a green tucked into a boundary corner of the estate I suspect this hole has wrecked many a good scorecard.
At its maximum Copt Heath can stretch to just 6,541 yards (par 71) and as a result we enjoy a number of short par-fours. Unless you are called Bryson I don't think you could claim any of them are strictly driveable although I'm sure under favourable conditions the 8th (336 yds), 14th (321 yds) and 18th (332 yds) probably have been hit at some point. And with five other holes under 400-yards your positional play and short-to-mid irons need to be dialled in if you are to score well here.
The impressive putting surfaces, which have just the right amount of breaks and slopes, also enhance the experience of playing at Copt Heath. Not only are the greens enjoyable to putt on but the surrounds have interest too and the pleasing use of short grass around them gives the golfer options on how to recover after a wayward approach. The condition was first-class on my visit in early October and I have no doubt they are immaculate in the summer months plus I hear good reports about them throughout the winter too.
The name 'Heath' is perhaps a little deceptive because although the club claim there is a natural sandy subsoil and there are the sporadic patches of gorse please do not expect a heathland experience, this is traditional English park for the most part.
As touched on earlier the bunkering, along with the greens, is a highlight of the course and will test you from both the tee and around the greens. On each hole you have sharp, flashed up hazards at varying distances which really make you think which club to use and the greenside bunkering is prominent too. At times the use of sand is quite extravagant; the 7th, 11th and 13th in particular make no apology for dazzling the golfer with their visual impact. The style is in your face but very clean and works really well. The bunkering was most recently renovated and restored by Frank Pont.
Tree management is also clearly in good hands. The playing corridors are fairly generous and there is minimal scrub under the trees that line and divide many of the holes. As our fourball found out some of the exits from the tee can be a touch narrow at times but nothing too serious and was more down to bad golf rather than being over critical of the course.
The venue is also home to the Peter McEvoy Trophy, an annual scratch open competition for aspiring young golfers that carries World Amateur Ranking points.
In many ways Copt Heath is flawless and faultless but at the same time has little room for improvement because it is limited by its flat parkland site. Despite their excellent use and placement the very fact there are around 100 bunkers tells you all you need to know. Ultimately it's a course that does what it does very well and if you are looking for a top rate, classic parkland experience you will not go far wrong with a visit to this premier West Midlands layout.