Celebrating their 25th Anniversary (see page 12)
in the boot
The Midlands was the heart of the industrial might of Great Britain for over a hundred years, heavy industry, mining and many specialised trades originated there. The smoke and grime were so bad it was christened, perhaps a little heartlessly The Black Country, it was so bad that when Queen Victoria rode through, she ordered the blinds on the windows of her train carriage pulled down.
Enville Golf Club
and play began in October of that year, a period of just nine months from the formation. Within three years the course had been extended to 18 holes, and in the following years the course was redesigned and extended by some six hundred yards, as there was ample land available.
Yet the skills of the workers brought fame to the region, Willenhall locks, Dudley chains (the Titanic anchor came from Netherton), Walsall leather and midst all the sweat and toil there were pockets of brilliance and dedicated skills, Stourbridge glass and crystal and Worcester porcelain to cite two of the most recognised. Hidden amongst these factories and pits, were some of the real survivors of the era of prosperity. Though much of the industry has gone, the bonuses that resulted from it are the bequests made for the benefit of future generations. In recent years there has been a huge amount of wonderful regeneration work, giving new life to the canal systems and other industrial sites. Two of the pictures provide excellent examples both of the history and also the beneficial changes that have taken place in the area. Firstly some superb examples of Royal Worcester Porcelain, and secondly the wonderful changes that have taken place to the canals that once served the heavy steel industry at Brierley Hill and are now a hub of the leisure industry. Close at hand, often just a few miles from the noise and clamour, were many wonderful golf courses, formed by the successful businessmen as they prospered and caused golf to spread and blossomed out into the nearby countryside. There are so many examples, Penn near Wolverhampton, Beau Desert at Cannock, and Sandwell Park in West Bromwich. Courses, any one of which would stand comparison with the best in the land. They spawned wonderful Black Country golfers, such as Archie Compston and Charlie Stowe. Just south west of Dudley and Stourbridge lies Highgate Common, a belt of sandy heath type soil that would become home to one of the most delightful golf settings in the region, Enville Golf Club. The club was founded by a group of enthusiasts in 1935, they met in a local hostelry in January of that year to consider forming the club on the common. A tract of land was leased from Sir John Grey of Enville Hall, and he also accepted the honour of being the first club President. In a remarkably short period of time, the first nine holes and a clubhouse were completed,
16 TEE TIMES | March 2018
In 1969, the original clubhouse was demolished and a new home was created in a former farmhouse, which was refurbished to form the current facilities. It is a short step across the country lane to the first tees of the Highgate and Lodge courses. For there are now thirty six holes of championship golf on the site. Firstly another nine were added in 1973, during the construction of which three stones were thoughtfully re-sited, they commemorated the replanting of trees to replace those hewn down to smelt iron ore along the River Stour,. They currently stand close to the 16th tee on the Highgate Course. Then in 1983 a final nine holes were opened on Captains Day of that year. The thirty six holes were re-organised to create two first class layouts, appropriately name Highgate and Lodge. The two courses start quite differently, the Highgate with a testy par 5, and the Lodge with an equally demanding Par 3. Both are a delight to play, demanding but eminently fair, and there are several holes, particularly the short holes that will be easily remembered. The Par 3 16th on Highgate is over two hundred yards, driving off from close to the small
pavilion and over the lake which has recently been extended. The 17th on Lodge is well protected by a huge angled bunker guarding the approach, threeâ€™s on these two holes are always a good result. The Highgate course is slightly the longer at 6556 yards, but with a par of 72 may be a little more tenable than the par 70, of the 6300 yard Lodge course. Both are in excellent condition, and the recently improved bunkering has added to the already fine layout on the Lodge, the subtle contouring a real compliment to the green staff who have completed some fine structuring. It is no surprise that the club has been chosen to host the Regional Qualifying rounds of The Open Championship in recent years. Visitors are most welcome at the club, and the friendly members soon make that evident, the perfect place to play whichever course you choose, you may well be spoilt for choice. I have been coming to play these two courses for over forty years and I have never been disappointed. Michael Rees