Played by NCG: Sutton Coldfield
Reason for a Sutton Coldfield Golf Club review
This was yet another course that I wanted to see for myself before our England’s Top 100 Courses 2018 ranking was finalised. And boy was I glad that I made it to this Alister MacKenzie heathland.
Where is Sutton Coldfield Golf Club?
Sutton Coldfield Golf Club is in the suburbs to the north of Birmingham. One minute you are on a busy road, and the next you have parked up on one side and crossed it to reach a vast golf course that has a wilderness feel to it.
What to expect
Sutton Coldfield occupies public land within Sutton Park. The outstanding greens are fenced off to keep grazing cattle away.
It’s a magnificent piece of land, and one that you might expect to find in the further reaches of Surrey. This is a site of real scale and the turf is firm and sporty, which is just how I like it.
The club dates back to the 19th century but the course that stands today is the work of Dr Alister Mackenzie, who came here after the Great War.
The layout forms a horseshoe. Each nine takes you first away from the clubhouse then doubling back.
When you play the front nine you will encounter three consecutive par 5s. If that happens on any other golf courses in the British Isles then I have yet to see or even hear about it. Better still, they are all fine holes, and not remotely similar to each other.
It’s over 6,500 yards off the back tees and the toughest section of the course is around the turn.
This is tricky, so I am going to choose two. First up is the par-5 5th, which really gives you the feeling of scale and space that is a Sutton Coldfield trademark. It doglegs from right to left and the green can be reached in two on a good day.
I also greatly enjoyed the 11th. This is a downhill and right-to-left dogleg that demands control over your flight to find and hang on to the fairway. I only wish that the silver birches that line the fairway could be taken out to restore what should be the open feel of this classic piece of design.
My best bit
Highly unusually for me, for I am a terrible starter, I hit a nice, solid drive off the opening tee and watched it bounce and gambol all the way on to the large, flat green. Two putts later and I had bagged an encouraging opening birdie. I fairly sprinted to the 2nd tee in eager anticipation of what was to come.
What to look for at Sutton Coldfield Golf Club
The course is at its best, in my opinion, when the vistas are open and you can counter the angles and slopes by using the course’s full width. I don’t want to sound like a broken record but I would love to see trees removed in their thousands to accentuate this course’s special heathland qualities.
When I go back
I won’t come to grief at the second par 5, the 6th, and I will play within my limitations. I am afraid, dear reader, I got rather carried away at the prospect of a third birdie of the day. And promptly ran up an ugly seven in a bid to fade one round the corner off the tee. Inevitably, I followed it up with a three-putt six on the last of the three consecutive par 5s. The spell had been broken and my scorecard blighted.
It does show what a good trio of par 5s they are. They all give you a chance (and play in different directions) but can all defend themselves too.