Played by NCG: StourbridgeFebruary 23, 2018 Courses and Travel
Keel Timmins heads back to his home club to relive many childhood golfing memories
Reason for a Stourbridge Golf Club course review
It felt like I spent half of my younger years around this course. Teeing off when the sun was low and closing out the round with just the lights from the car park to guide me. I headed back home to see if anything has changed.
What to expect
I think the best way to describe Stourbridge is ‘solid’. It’s rarely talked about, especially with the brilliant Enville on its doorstep, but it should be given credit for being in super condition at almost any time of the year. Indeed, when many courses in the area are closed due to poor conditions, you can almost always rely on Stourbridge to be available, without the burden of temporary greens and tees.
This is a short course at just over 6,000 yards, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly. In fact, you don’t need a driver at all if you’re set on posting a good score. But you only need to be a few yards off line from the tee and you can find yourself playing sideways.
Of course the temptation for me when I was playing here almost every day was to hit driver on every tee. Drive it long and straight and a handful of the par 4s are drivable. If you’re slightly off, a miserable day hacking it out of the many trees ensues.
The signature hole is the 4th – a long par 4 from an elevated tee which doglegs left towards a well-bunkered green. In terms of the best hole from my point of view, the 17th is a brilliant short par 4 that entices the player to have an attempt at the green. The majority will be able to reach, but the problem here is the green is incredibly narrow – no more than 30 feet wide at its opening – and when the pin is placed in the middle, you’ll almost always short-side yourself if you miss either left or right. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve ran up a double-bogey or worse here because I’ve missed the tee shot by a few feet. Of course, the safe option is to hit a mid-iron off the tee to leave a short chip and guarantee a par, but where’s the fun in that?
My best bit
The 18th is a true make-or-break hole with the clubhouse running up the left hand side of the hole – playing your approach with people looking on from the clubhouse can be pretty daunting, especially with OOB just over the back of the green. There’s nothing more rewarding than hitting the middle of the green, but on the other hand, there’s few things more embarrassing than hooking one into the car park.
What to look for
Keep an eye out for a few holes that cross over each other. Sometimes it will get a bit hectic and at one point might resemble Spaghetti Junction when it’s busy. Expect to yell ‘fore’ a couple of times more than you’re typically used to.
When I go back
Every time I go back, I always start with the mind-set that I’m just going to play safe from the tee and keep my hands off the driver. Normally by the 4th hole that thought process has been completely forgotten and more often than not I’m contemplating miracle shots from deep in the trees. You see that gap right there? No, me neither. But I’m going for it anyway.