Having been established in 1896 Edgbaston had a couple of different homes before the current layout was designed by the legendary H.S. Colt in 1936. The quality of his green settings are clear to see during the round and this makes a round here one of the best in the West Midlands.
The par-69 course, which measures a maximum of just 6,106 yards, includes an ornamental lake and plays through mature and extensive woodland with small greens that have just the correct amount of borrow to make the holes strategic and challenging but still extremely playable.
You’re unlikely to lose many balls at Edgbaston and whilst there are lots of trees on this established property there is still a certain roominess to it despite the small acreage. The course reminded me slightly to nearby Blackwell although the bunkering is nowhere near as good here.
The set of four short holes, three of which come early between the third and seventh, are all very impressive; deceptive targets, well bunkered and taxing greens. The fifth was my personal favourite with an egg-timer shaped green much wider than it is deep with a good amount of slope. The downhill seventh is also a gem with the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower acting as a unique backdrop.
Classic Colt can be found at many holes but the green complexes around the grand clubhouse – Edgbaston Hall - are the most ingenious. The brilliantly located ninth has a cute ridge angled across it, the 15th is cunningly located at the top of a steep incline but the putting surface itself is slightly gathering whilst the adjacent 18th – after an awkward drive - is played more down the shoot and features a significant slope from right-to-left.
The driveable par-four 11th may go under the radar of most visiting golfers but is protected perfectly with a tiny green, traps either side and steep fall-aways at the front. Indeed many of the greens, especially at the shorter and medium-length two-shotters, feature sharp run-offs and pleasingly most of these are cut to apron length to heighten the degree of accuracy required and increase the punishment for those just slightly wayward.
There are many enjoyable par fours on the course and a handful requires bigger hitting. The second, sixth, eighth and 10th will all likely require a mid-to-long iron at least to reach in two but these holes are not the strength of Edgbaston, despite being very good. In my opinion, the holes where you are approaching with a shorter club is where the most fun and best golf is to be had.
Meanwhile, the lone par-five arrives at the penultimate hole and is less than 500-yards but also has an excellent green complex to assist in defending its par.
Length is not particularly an asset at Edgbaston but careful course management, accurate play and a deft touch with the putter will be rewarded in spades.
The game of golf has the ability to take you on amazing journeys to the most wondrous places where you meet such interesting people.
It was an impulsive, crazy… and some would say utterly ridiculous… decision that took me to The Machrie in the Spring of 2018.