Probably most famous for its rugby club which won many honours and supplied the English national side with countless internationals during the 60s, 70 & 80s, Moseley is also home to one of the many Colt courses in the greater Birmingham area. Founded in 1892, Moseley is located approximately four miles from the city centre between Moseley and Kings Heath. The nine hole course underwent a radical Colt redesign beginning in 1913. Colt was to visit and make suggestions on several occasions over a span of some 20 plus years. The end result is an ingenious routing over a fairly small property. As is most usually the case with Colt courses, the short par 4s (of which there are three just below or over 300 yards) are balanced with a few long par 4s (three over 440 yards) with only a few par 5s to keep par a tight 70.
The view as one turns the corner of the house is most impressive. The 18th, 1st and 10th are running to and from the house unfettered by many trees. Unfortunately, much of the course is corsetted with foliage, but to be fair, only a few holes are seriously impacted by lack of fairway width. Many of the holes are short enough that hitting a driver off the tee isn't paramount. The greens are typically Colt; many are flatish, but with enough subtlety to keep golfers interested and honest.
Before getting to the course, a word about the father and son Lunts must be mentioned if Moseley is to be spoken of at all. Between the two, they Captained England on five occasions. The father, Stanley, was a most important early member of the club having won the 1934 English Amateur. The son, Michael, died in 2007 while sitting as Captain of the R&A. He won the 1963 Amateur Championship at St Andrews with his rather glamorous wife to be on the bag. Not so lucky the next year, Lunt lost on the 39th hole of the final. Michael also won the 1962 and 1966 English Amateur and was a member of the Walker Cup teams four times on the trot between 1959 and 1965. A true amateur, Michael was obliged to refuse five invites to the Masters due to the pressing nature of his job. Not surprisingly, both Lunts remained Moseley members until their dying day.
The opening hole is curious as the landing zone is blind with hidden water both right and left. Just over the crest of the hill all is revealed.
A very tight driving hole, the second somehow manages to look inviting. There is a huge benefit to carrying the left bunkers successfully compared to laying up into the hillside.
The approach can still be difficult even with a wedge in hand because the view of the green is obscured by sand.
The third is a monster 460 yard par 4 bending left. The fairway is not nearly wide enough for this type of dogleg with tall trees guarding the left side of the fairway. More is the pity because the green is good. Moseley's first par 3 is, as one should have come to expect from Colt by now, one of a fine set. However, visually, this hole is lacking something. Perhaps the green has shrunk over the years. This corner of the course is very peaceful and if one looks away from the houses through the trees it is impossible to tell the second largest city in the UK has us enveloped. Anyway, onto a rather unusual hole. Colt designed this in 1936 and Water Hole is most certainly an apt title. Its not the water which is unusual, its the trees on the far bank which are an added hazard for the bold hoping to cut the corner. The photo doesn't reveal the clever fairway which propels a well shaped draw.
The second unusual aspect is the forward tee - it is part of the path leading around the pond. I have never seen anything quite like this. For all the oddities on the tee side of the water, once over, this is an excellent hole. Below is photo from ~170 yards out; very reminiscent of Harborne and Southfield.
The par 3 sixth is a hole of simplistic beauty that Colt seems to have had an exceptional ability to create.
The following hole exposes perhaps Colt's weakest area of design, the par 5. The drive zone is too narrow and the hole doesn't have enough to recommend it considering some 480 yards of land is used on a design where land is a premium. #8 is a bit better, but I still get the impression that not quite enough land was available to squeeze out a really top notch design. The front side ends on a positive note with a very good par 4 of moderate length. Bunkers which seem well out of play from the tee are indeed reachable. Colt does this trick more than once at Moseley. Bunkers are out there just within reach, there is no good reason to challenge them, yet players feel compelled to give it a go. The 10th which heads straight past the first may be the best hole on the course. The drive is uncharacteristcally wide open, but this hole is all about the redan-like green. This photo is from well beyond the driving zone. What a beauty!
The fine golf continues on the diminutive 11th. The green is cut off the pad for the 1st green and 12th tee. Colt created a collection-like saddle in the middle of the putting surface which is well disguised.
The 12th is another good medium length par 4. Indeed, perhaps this length of hole along with the par 3s is the strength of Moseley. As on the 9th, the bunkers off the tee don't look reachable, but they are...just. The angle of the green tilts toward the oob line down the left and that is where the drive needs to be to access the hole.
Unfortunately, the good holes come to an abrupt end with #13. This is another long par 4 which is too narrow off the tee given that oob runs down the left side of the hole. Like the 3rd, the hole turns left at the driving zone and requires a very accurate strike if driver is the choice of club. Not my favourite sort of hole for a long par 4. The final par 3 is an interesting change of pace for the short holes. Colt hides the narrow putting surface with a large cross bunker not unlike many found at Little Aston.
A most curious hole, the 15th is just about drivable, but one must drive over a small wood. There is a scrap of fairway left to aim for, perhaps not quite enough to create clear choices from the tee. Either way, as is the case with the 5th, I have never seen a Colt hole quite like this. As expected, the green is a small, narrow target which opens up from the right and requires a longer carry from the tee.
The final long par 4 (there are three around 460 yards) comes on the 16th. Again, I am not keen on this hole, but its not bad. I get the impression that the large dip which is part of the area one must drive over for the previous hole is not used as well as it might be simply due to lack of fairway width again.
#17 is a short par 4 which can be driven. Again, the angle one leaves for the second is very important. Anything coming from the right side of the fairway makes it difficult to access the hole, but there are two fairway bunkers which tease the golfer iinto lurching further right than he should. The canted green is a very simple concept, but I am not sure its used enough. The home hole is a good short par 5 finishing under the patio of the attractive clubhouse. A very well placed large centre-line bunker is hidden off the tee because the drive is downhill over the crest.
There is a lot to recommend Moseley. A very good set of short holes and an outstanding group of 350 to 380 yard par 4s are the main positives. The bunkers too are often cleverly placed and many are attractive yet simple in their design. However, the property is a bit too tight and that feeling is increased by too many trees. Additionally, the long par 4s and three-shotters are not exceptional in any way. A course of 6300 yards from the tips desperately needs some excellent longer holes and on this score Moseley fails. Still, Colt did a very good job creating a large handful of very good holes on a tight property. He also managed to create a little slice of heaven in blocking out the hassles of a large city. I would also point out that the club is very hospitable as visitors are allowed seven days a week including the Royal Wedding Bank Holiday. For a fan of Colt Moseley is well worth visting. For the remainder of golf enthusiasts, Moseley is certainly worth your time if you are invited or get a round on offer. Moseley won't threaten to make a best of list, but it will provide an enjoyable round of golf. 2015