Enville is an attractive village not far from Stourbridge. The club is about 1.5 miles north of the village in glorious Staffordshire countryside and both courses are a pleasant change of pace from the heavily industrial Black Country to the northeast. Two 18 hole courses were eventually completed in 1983; both are approximately equal parts heathland and parkland. I don’t know who the various architects contributing to the design evolution of Enville were, but I don’t believe a “name” architect was included.
Just as on the Highgate Course, work has been ongoing on the Lodge. I don't know all the details, but bunkering has been a feature of the changes. At least one new hole was built, the 11th, and it is a big improvement on the old version. The course doesn't really standout as anything special, but there are some excellent holes.
While it is difficult to properly open a course with a par 3, the first is a decent hole. #2 is one of the highlights of the course. A slightly obscured split-level drive is the first hurdle. One can take a driver, but there is precious little space beyond the 150 marker. For the split-level design to work there needs to be more high ground fairway. The reward for the full view approach is not worth risking unfavourable lie in the heather.
The closer look at the green reveals one of the issues I have with this course. Many of the greens don't look as if they settle in their spot very well. I am not sure why I get this impression, but I think it is because the green surfaces don't extend much closer to the shaping work.
A wee legger right, the 3rd has some suspect front bunkering which negates any real strategy to the approach. We cross the road on 4 for a hole bisected by a large valley. The fifth is another short par 4 heading back toward the house. Things pick up for the 6th. The hole rises to the green with a severe cant to the right. Being a 400 yarder its difficult to lay-up so many will take their chances and hope for a straight drive. One can see from the photo that the Lodge does need some tree work.
The only par 5 on the front nine, the 7th is a good double legger. The drive is a bit non-descript, but the approach is very attractive and fun.
The 8th is a tougher than it looks par 3 with a wide green. I usually don't like sharp leggers, but the 9th does give a very good clue as to its intention with the fairway dead-ending into a bunker. The approach is good as well with a sunken green. In firm conditions (which in my experience Enville is nearly always in summer) its practically a chip type shot to the green...very deceptive. Imagine some of the wonderful views to be had if boundary trees were stripped away.
The second and final par 5 is very good. The drive is very tight between bunkers, but the reward for threading the needle is a chance to go at the blind green in two.
The new green for 11 is very good and makes for a very exciting hole.
The 12th has a new tee further right because of the work on 11 and it makes for a much better tee shot. Previously this drive was nearly impossible. Mind you, the hole remains quite tough at 412 yards with an obscured uphill approach. We cross back onto the heathland section of the property for the 13th. Which brings us to the second issue I have with the course. A good chunk of the heathland holes (13-16) run back and forth over a ridge in a quite unimaginative manner. That said, the bunkering for 14 is quite good in that the drive and approach can be harassed depending on the player's ability.
The 15th offers some new bunkering which is very well done if not terribly well placed.
The new bunkers on #16 attempt to address my third major issue with The Lodge. There are many shortish 4s, seven under 360 yards. I don't see an inherent problem with this many short 4s, but none of them are truly compelling from start to finish. Many are let down by details, but thats often the difference between good and ok design.
#17 is a fine par 3 with a slightly domed green.
The home hole finishes rather disappointingly, but the hard sloping green is of great interest. Much like the Highgate, the Lodge has great potential. The terrain is excellent for golf and the green keeper does an admirable job of keeping the course firm. However, the potential may have to be realised by more work than simply pushing bunkers about and cutting down trees. The 11th and 12th are great examples of what can be achieved by going back to the drawing board. The powers that be have done this too on the Highgate, but the 11th is the most stunning change on the property. In the end, Enville may be the posterboy for the long term cost of not engaging the right archies from the get go. Still, if one is invited for a game, Enville is a very pleasant day out. In a twist, the last word doesn't belong to the great Bernardo. It is the 19th which leaves a lasting impression. The club recently built a new spike bar which should be a model for other clubs to follow. Its very comfortable and seemingly very popular. Perhaps most importantly, and this is for the benefit of Pietro Pallota, the 19th serves one of the finest ales to be had in England