The course was built in 1970, being founded in 1892, Kings Norton can make a fair claim as the oldest club in Birmingham; although the members of Moseley GC have different views on the matter. Kings Norton was one of hundreds of English clubs which sprang up between 1880 and the start of WWI. The original course was just south of Kings Norton Green between Wythall Lane and Rednal Rd. During the building boom of the 1960s, Birmingham City Council eyed the golf course as perfect land for a housing estate and there was no avoiding a compulsory purchase offer of £680,000. Locals sometimes refer to the housing as “golf course estate” and several road names etc make reference to golf. With the move now imminent, the club settled on a 150-year lease of the 176-acre Weatheroak Hall estate. An additional 43 acres was purchased from the Ministry of Defense, making for a property large enough to support a 27-hole setup. I believe Hawtree designed 18 and a further nine opened later. Disappointingly, the magnificent hall has not been well treated by the club as terrible additions have been made. Indeed, the hall narrowly escaped being demolished to make way for a new house…it was the 60s!
Card of the original course. Notice the Bogey Score and the stymie gauge. This golfer beat the course 2up. Its a shame I don't have the name of the golfer or the competition.
Fred G founded the golf design company in 1912 and worked extensively with JH Taylor. Taylor’s name wasn’t dropped from the masthead until FG died in the mid-1950s; the name of the company became Hawtree & Sons. Remarkably, the Hawtree company remains open with FH’s son, Martin Hawtree, at the helm. Upon graduating from Queen’s College, Oxford, Fred W Hawtree became involved in his father’s design business. This didn’t last long as WWII intervened. Fred W was stationed in Indonesia in the Royal Artillery and would spend the last few years of the war in a Japanese prisoner of camp. After the war Fred W took up the family business once again.
Entrance to Weatheroak Hall
Despite re-designs of Hillside and Birkdale, FH Hawtree is not widely regarded as one of Britain’s best architects, however, he remains an unsung hero of English golf. Somewhat similar to D Steel, FH was a multi-talented golf all-rounder. He was a founding member of the British Association of Golf Architects which eventually merged into what is now known as the European Institute of Golf Course Architects. FH long supported advancements in greenkeeping and was a Vice President of the British Golf Greenkeepers Association and often edited the The Greenkeeper. FH aided in the administration of the game as a member of the English Golf Union Council. Finally, FH authored many books which include Colt & Co, Simpson & Co and Aspects of Golf Architecture (two volumes).
Despite a cold February northeast wind, the opener is pleasant enough.
The bunkering has recently been renovated. This is a bit of an unusual hole as the bunkering varies from the typical greenside left/right scheme.
The fairways are for the most part generous, but misses will often find tree trouble. A large bunker on the right was recently removed. The old scheme had far larger, saucer pan style bunkers. The new scheme breaks up some bunkers or just made them smaller.
The short 3rd is highly attractive and difficult. There are several oaks and other specimen trees scattered about the property. Unfortunately, scrubby trees hide some of their beauty.
A blind, uphill mid length two-shotter follows. The two tier green is of some interest, but the hole is a bit disappointing. Playing along the boundary, the 5th is another dead straight hole. There aren't too many doglegs on the Weatheroak. The staggered diagonal bunkering is deceptive. Its about an additional 50 yards or so of carry between the the first and third bunkers.
A severe dogleg, the 6th cuts around a paddock. The bunker down the far side of the fairway on the left was removed. The carry for flat bellies is not terribly challenging so they have a quite an advantage compared to shorters playing left then being faced with a long, uphill approach.
My favourite short hole on the course, the 7th is a beauty. The water was widened to the left to great effect.
Not a special hole, but the deception of the approach on 8 is clever. The uphill shot demands a bit more force, but the green runs away to a bowl.
The side finishes with an ok par 5. Not a bad front nine, but nothing which strongly stands out.
More to follow.