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Thomas Dai

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Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« on: November 19, 2014, 03:15:34 PM »
Enville GC in Staffordshire, UK, is located about 20 miles south west of Birmingham, and has 36-holes of free draining, sand based heathland golf.

There is the slightly more taxing Highgate course, which used to hold regional qualifying for The Open, and was profiled by Sean a while back, and the very fine Lodge course. Holes 1-3 and 13-18 of the Lodge together with the first-9 of the Highgate formed the original 18-holes at Enville. The second-9 of the Highgate and holes 4-12 of the Lodge are later additions.

It is worth mentioning that Enville has quite exceptional, for the UK, practice facilities with a very large driving range and three very fine large chipping/pitching/bunker practice greens. If only all UK clubs had practice facilities to the standard of Enville's.

Here is a Bing satmap of the two courses and their location - http://binged.it/1tFG1IH - and here is the link to the GCA Highgate photo-tour, the thread of which also contains a few comments about the Lodge - http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,44866.0.html

The Lodge course, which plays at 6,472 yds par-71 from the men's back tees, is on two sorts of terrain.

The first 3 holes and the last 6 holes are on sandy, open vista land with heather sided fairways. Holes 4-12 on the other hand, which you access by walking across a country lane, were cut through very undulating, heavily forested land, although still with sand free draining soil. To me Lodge holes 1-3 and 13-18 are the more pleasant to play, certainly the more pleasant to walk as the forested land through which holes 4-12 were laid out contain many significant changes in elevation, is surprisingly hilly and is quite tiring to walk.

I've played the Lodge a few times from both the white and the yellow tees. Unfortunately on this occasion it was a dull day with the sun not peeking through much until the last few holes so the photos are not quite as I would desire.

The Lodge is unusual in that the 1st is a par-3, and it's a good 'un too, 180 yds from the back tee into the prevailing wind over heather covered rough with a deep, bunker filled hollow that's hidden from the tee short of the green. Here's a view from the left side of the green


The 2nd hole, below, is a 370 yd slightly uphill par-4 with a bank on the left which causes most tee shots to run to the right hand side of the fairway. At driving distance on the left there is a deep heather lined hollow. From the back tee a super-bomber might just be able to carry the hollow but it would be tight carry. A rather nice hole. The first photo is the view from about 50 yds in front of the tee. The second photo is taken from the left side of the green. Some lovely heathland terrain in the background.



The 3rd hole is a 320 yd par-4 playing with a severe right-hand dogleg around a copse of silver birch trees and scrub. This hole is one of the most extreme doglegs I know. You almost have to hit your tee shot way past the corner of the dogleg and play backwards towards the green, fortunately there is room to do so, even though you are then playing to a downward sloping green. The line of the right hand bunker in the photo is dead.



More later

atb
« Last Edit: November 20, 2014, 05:53:32 AM by Thomas Dai »

Thomas Dai

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Re: Enville GC, the Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2014, 04:27:30 AM »
Here is Enville Lodge part II - the holes 'over the road'.

After playing the first 3-holes in open heathland you walk across a public road into a heavily forested sandy area from which holes 4-12 were cut. There are a lot of trees too, almost all evergreens. It's basically very undulating avenue style golf. Plays quite tough/long too, unless that is you can give the ball a seriously long straight biff.

I won't post photos of each hole but merely show some of the holes to give a flavour of what's 'over the road'.

Remember, the trees were not planted, they were there before the course! :)

Below - tee shot on the 410 yd par-4 6th, a 410 yd uphill par-4. Tee shot goes l-r, shot to the green best to go r-l.


Below - towards the green on the par-5 7th. Photo taken from about 300 yds out from the green. The hole twists a bit snake-like wanting r-l off the tee/over the hill and then l-r at the end. Especailly in the summer a shot will really bound on into the scrub down the left if care is not taken in playing the approach to the green.


Below - second shot on the 400 yd par-4 11th hole. This is the 'new' green, built about 5 yrs ago. The 'old' green is on the hill way to the right of the photo and when in use the 'old' hole plays around 330 yds. There was a vast puddle of water in the valley in front of the 'new' green so the hole was out of play, hence no flag on the green. A shame as it looks a bit of cracker.


Below - three photos of the 420 yd par-4 12th taken from the tee, looking back towards the tee and looking up to the raised green.




"This stretch of holes is pretty similar to Woburn" a playing partner remarked, although I can't comment, not having played Woburn.

So that's a flavour of the holes 'over the road' at the Lodge. Some pretty strong holes too, the teeth of the course really, the places you're most likely to drop shots, for in a 9-hole stretch there are 6 par-4's all over 400 yds many requiring an uphill shot somewhere during their length, plus 2 x 510 yd par-5's and a 190 yd par-3 that's all carry over a valley. Strong holes they may be but the green complexes, apart from the short par-4 5th, are not particularly taxing. In fact, most of the green complexes on the entire 36-holes at Enville are generally is a bit like this, which is a shame. So much potential, still good to play though, especially as the terrain remains dry underfoot all year round.

Next up, holes 13-18, which are back across the road on the open heathland, and very nice they are too.

More to follow.

atb
« Last Edit: November 20, 2014, 04:34:30 AM by Thomas Dai »

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Enville GC, the Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2014, 05:51:30 AM »
Thomas,

good posting of a course not often mentioned on here. Is the course as hemmed in by trees as it looks? Also, all the holes photo'd appear to be doglagged. Is this reflected through the course in general or is it just an coincidence that the photo'd holes are doglegs?

Jon

Greg Taylor

Re: Enville GC, the Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2014, 06:13:29 AM »
Thomas,

good posting of a course not often mentioned on here. Is the course as hemmed in by trees as it looks? Also, all the holes photo'd appear to be doglagged. Is this reflected through the course in general or is it just an coincidence that the photo'd holes are doglegs?

Jon

Yes it is - severely hemmed in... and yup they are a number of dog legs too...

Very much a "dichotomy" [can't believe I used that word - what an ar5e] between the holes on either side of the "road".

The Lodge course is fun to play so long as your expectations are clear... it is tight. I have also fond the holes in the woodland part of the course can be quite damp under foot as it doesn't drain so well... I guess due to the lack of light... But if you like your holes "framed" and the challenge laid out in front of you this is the place. And the practice facilities are second to none.

The "bring a chain saw" posse on here would have a field day with this one...!

Thomas Dai

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2014, 06:21:27 AM »
Now we come back across the road for the final 6 holes, and lovely traditional heathland holes they are with open views across the heathland and heather sided fairways.

This is the 420 yd par-4 13th from the front of the teeing area. The hole plays up over a ridge and then across a hollow that is not visible from the tee.

and this is into the green


Here is a general view across the course from the 13th fairway that shows the open aspects to the heathland.


and this is the 14th green as viewed from the 13th fairway


Here's the 360 yd par-4 14th from the tee. Again up and over a ridge. The second photo is the 14th green from the spot a decent tee shot should finish.



Below is the 390 yd par-4 15th photographed from where a decent tee shot should finish


And here is the green at the 360 yd par-4 16th. The green slopes heavily from front down to the rear. The second photo is looking across the 16th green from the left side with the 2nd green at left near the leaf blowing tractor. Just visible through the trees to the right of the photo the 14th green.



At last the sun came out and allowed this view of the very nice 160 yd par-3 17th hole. Very nice little hole with a green that slopes quite severely from rear down to the front.


And lastly, lastly because the battery on my camera ran out of juice, is the 350 yd 18th photographed hole from just in front of the tees. Quite a tight driving hole, although not necessarily needing a big biff, and with the prevailing wind from the left. This hole has a difficult to hit-n-hold green, one of the more challenging greens at Enville, as it tilts appreciably from l-r and slopes heaviliy downwards from well in front of the green to the rear. Most shots to the green finish at the back of the green.

That then is the Lodge course, and a fine course it is too.

atb



« Last Edit: November 20, 2014, 07:14:05 AM by Thomas Dai »

Thomas Dai

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2014, 07:11:48 AM »
Jon and Greg,

Thank you for your questions and thoughts.

I would say that the holes 'over the road' are pretty doglegged but mostly of a 'swervey' rather than tightly 'kinked' variety. Two holes that arn't are the 420 yd 4th, which is long and straight (and IMO boring) with a huge wide dip at long-driving distance, and the rather nice 300 yd nearly drivable sometimes par-4 5th. The 5th, unusually, has a very fine green, but the lack of sun didn't result in a decent photo to post.

As to width and tightness 'over the road', there's more space in the avenues than the photos make it look.

I didn't find the the holes 'over the road' particularly wet or soft or damp either. They played rather nicely with shots rolling along the fairways okay.

The chain saw posse, whom I'm normally side with, should note that the trees were there first and the holes came later! Actually on the 'over the road' holes a lost ball just off the fairway isn't particularly likely, the trees and ground cover seem to be managed well and it's mostly pine needles and the like so find it and punch it out is the most likely outcome of a wayward longer shot. A lost ball on the open heathland holes is probably more likely, heather being the 'ball hiding' bugger it is.

Lots of work was going on on the course(s), which are always very well maintained. Both courses have two different styles of bunkering. Irregular and shaggy and clean and tight-edged. Not sure which are new and which are original but my suspician is that irregular and shaggy is slowly being introduced.

Enville is a cracking place - lovely and quiet and serene - you wouldn't realise that Birmingham, Wolverhampton and the Black Country are not too far away - and the terrain, especailly the open heathland areas, is terrific.

Both the Lodge and the slightly better Highgate are two of the better courses in the West Midlands, not up to the level of Beau Desert, what is, or of say Whittington Heath or of the oft unheralded Sandwell Park, but both courses are good strong tests of golf on lovely free draining terrain.

Where both courses are a little lacking I would say is around the greens, some of them, well maybe even most, are a bit, well um, bland. Tom Doak remarked on another thread about heathlands not being challenging aound the greens. I disagreed with him, and still do, but it would be a fair point in relation to both Enville courses. The strength of both courses is for the most part that decent long tee shots are needed and whilst these may be challenging up-n-downs from around the greens and even putting isn't that hard relative to other higher ethelon heathland courses.

There's a really wonderful course to be had at Enville, but somehow it's not quite out of the bag (yet?). Both courses are good, damn good, but there is a lot more to offer. Hopefully one day they'll bring in an archie to do a kinda make-over, coz the basics are all there, but the detail is just a little lacking. So near and yet so far.

One thing about Enville that is wonderful however, and ought to be praised to the hilt, is the practice facilities. I was planning, prior to lack of battery juice, to take and post some photos of them as the are, for the UK, a real wow, absolutley outstanding. I could chip and pitch and play bunker shots to them all day.

atb
« Last Edit: November 20, 2014, 07:18:55 AM by Thomas Dai »

Adrian_Stiff

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2014, 07:33:44 AM »
I played them both in a day, early 90s and really enjoyed both of them, the newer 9 holes 6-12 on the lodge were the hardest, a couple in our group thought they were the best holes. Well worth a visit and I know our club had a daytrip there a few years ago and all enjoyed.
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Greg Taylor

Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2014, 08:53:54 AM »
Interesting...

Now you come to mention it, I agree the holes "over the road" ( ;D) are ripe for someone to come in and re-invent the bunkering and tinker with the greens and surrounds/approaches. It is bland in or around the greens... the only disclaimer would be that making it tougher around the greens could make it too testing for the shorter hitter...

For some reason Enville does operate under the radar, and without a doubt, with a facelift, it could be seriously improved.

I'm a fan....

Sean_A

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2014, 08:59:01 AM »
More is not better.  I say scrap the current 36 and design a proper 18 on the heath part of the property...something special is there to be had. Both courses are currently hit and miss affairs that don't really satisfy. 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Ed Tilley

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2014, 09:15:40 AM »
More is not better.  I say scrap the current 36 and design a proper 18 on the heath part of the property...something special is there to be had. Both courses are currently hit and miss affairs that don't really satisfy. 

Ciao

We all know that is never going to happen. 2 courses means almost twice as many members with all that entails financially. I would imagine most of the members would be appalled if this was ever even suggested - similar to Frilford Heath.

Sean_A

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2014, 09:30:34 AM »
More is not better.  I say scrap the current 36 and design a proper 18 on the heath part of the property...something special is there to be had. Both courses are currently hit and miss affairs that don't really satisfy. 

Ciao

We all know that is never going to happen. 2 courses means almost twice as many members with all that entails financially. I would imagine most of the members would be appalled if this was ever even suggested - similar to Frilford Heath.

One can but dream of what could be at both places.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Thomas Dai

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2014, 09:43:22 AM »
More is not better.  I say scrap the current 36 and design a proper 18 on the heath part of the property...something special is there to be had. Both courses are currently hit and miss affairs that don't really satisfy.  
Ciao

I know where you're coming from Sean, there is something really special to be had at Enville, but I'm affraid I'd go along with what Ed says about unlikely.

I don't think it's just the Lodge's 'over the roads' holes that need someone to come in and as Greg says "re-invent the bunkering and tinker with the greens and surrounds/approaches.". As Frilford has been mentioned, I'd say that the majority of the green complexes at Frilford (Red course) and certainly Frilford (Green) are to a higher standard of difficulty/interest than those at either Enville course.

Running through all the Lodge holes in my mind there are only a handfull of green-sites like 5, 11-new as well as maybe 16, 17 and 18 that wouldn't benefit from a re-do, either a severe re-do or some minor tweaks. On the Highgate less so perhaps, although quite a few could do with some enhancing, like 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 16, 17 and maybe even 18. They just arn't challenging enough if you miss a green with your approach shot nor do they force you into some kind of thinking strategy compromise before you hit. Maybe we should feel fortuntate that the green complexes weren't by a Colt or a Fowler etc or else both courses would be decidedly evil (but even nicer)! :)

Enville fan, for sure, yet both courses lack something, and to me that something is more challenging and interesting green complexes.

And Adrian, if you fancy a return visit after 14 years get in touch.

atb

« Last Edit: November 20, 2014, 02:16:03 PM by Thomas Dai »

Sean_A

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2014, 09:54:37 AM »
atb

Unlikely?  A proper rethink of the property is never going to happen.  Enville is a very popular and well thought of club in the general Birmingham area.  I bet they still have a substantial joining fee...loads of people would like membership. For me, the best thing about the club/courses are the heathland holes at the start of the Highgate and the lovely Enville Ale behind the bar  :D  Most of the golf is very average.  That said, the club does allow the course to get really browned out...its a sight to behold.

Ciao   
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Thomas Dai

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2014, 11:19:07 AM »
Oh yes, both courses certainly do get really browned-out at times. Then some of the better green complexes, and thus entire holes, require a lot more thought to play, eg 3rd on the Highgate and the 18th on the Lodge, and the heather lined fairways play soooo much narrower. Rather nice.

Some of the green sites have been re-done for the better over the years, especially on the Highgate (eg 1st, 6th, 10th,15th) so perhaps things will ultimately change through a gradual process of evolution rather than wholescale revolution.

One aspect I will also mention about the greens on the tree lined holes of both courses is what I shall term 'stickiness'. I've played in the summer and the ball has been noticeably 'sticky' in the hand when you pick it up and the greens seem to be 'sticky' as well and putt a lot slower than anticipated from their look and feel through your feet. Would this be some kind of resin or something like that coming from the surrounding trees? I've not noticed it before on any other course so am interested to know. Others I've played with at Enville have commented upon it too.

atb

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2014, 11:36:57 AM »
Thanks for the replies gents :) Looks like a place I need to drop by if I ever get the chance.

Jon

Thomas Dai

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2018, 01:16:53 PM »
There has been conjecture herein about the origin of the two courses at Enville.


This months UK National Club Golfer states -


“Enville has an intriguing history. The heathland holes have been here since the 1930’s with the woodland holes added in the 1970’s.


Various men have shaped it. Alf Padgham, Open Champion at Hoylake in 1936, designed the first 9-holes then Arthur Wrigglesworth, a construction foreman, added another five before Horace Lewis made it up to 18. Frank Pennick created a further nine and then member Ron Hinton took it up to 36.”


Any thoughts or comments? I believe we have one or two members Enville members who sometimes post herei;.


Atb

Paul Dolton

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2018, 02:29:13 AM »

I've only played the lodge and thought it was pretty good. Due to play the Highgate later this year.
As Thomas said the practice facilities are excellent and a chipping green to rival Sunningdale.
Funny Frilford got mentioned as I'm a member. We have just sold a great warm up area right next to the car park. It was about 150 yards so was very useful . We now have an artificial pitch and putt that is to say the least average with the longest shot being about 80 yards.
Is one course favoured over the other at Enville ?

Sean_A

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2018, 03:00:25 AM »
The Highgate is the really the main course because its longer, but it also has more good holes than the Lodge. 

Everytime Enville comes up I get frustrated because I am positive that quite a special 18 holer is on that property and in typical fashion more is better has been the way to go.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Neil White

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2018, 05:39:39 AM »
Thomas,


Sean's view that the Highgate is the main course is correct, but generally only from those outside of the club.  A majority of the membership see both courses as equal standing, with the Highgate offering a longer yet easier walking game, whilst the Lodge is a slightly shorter but sterner walk, particularly on the wooded holes over the road.


As Paul has mentioned, we have fantastic practice facilities - three full size practice chipping/pitching greens and a 300-plus yard long practice area with 200 yard wide grass teeing area.


With regards to those comments referring to the 'hemmed in' feel to the courses - we have recently begun a programme of thinning out trees and understorey growth on the Highgate holes found in 'Old Lady's Farm' wood.  I recently came across an aerial photo from the early-mid 1950's that showed the area with slightly fewer trees and have been told it was interspersed with heather.  It is our hope that over the coming years we can re-introduce the heather that once flourished here.  Our intention is not to remove all the trees but create 'rides' and 'glades' within them, exposing some of the more mature Oak and Beech that previously were being smothered by the numerous Silver birch.





We are also completing a phased programme of turf stripping to areas within the heath itself to re-introduce and improve the heather coverage.


Like most things, this won't happen overnight, but I feel as a club we are moving in the right direction.

Courses played 2020 - ................!

Adam Lawrence

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Re: Enville GC, the heathland Lodge course, with pictures
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2018, 06:50:13 AM »
That's a truly fantastic photo.
Adam Lawrence

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