Mark Butler Golf Academy Course Review
Course Name: Mark Butler Golf Academy (formerly Sedgley Golf Center)
Location: Sandyfields Rd, Sedgley, Dudley, W. Mids, DY3 3DL, UK
Date Played: Several times over 20+ years
Course Type: Parkland
Some of my earliest golfing experiences took place at what was at the time Sedgley Golf Center. Indeed some of my first clubs were purchased from the second-hand bargain bin including a wooden (not persimmon) driver!
Over the years there have been a number of different owners who have tried to put their own stamp on the place. The biggest change being the addition of a nine-hole golf course in the late 80s/early 90s.
The current owner Mark Butler is a PGA-qualified professional. In an effort to widen the appeal some land adjacent to the car park has been converted into a mini-golf course. There are also a number of farmyard animals for young children to visit!
While this is only nine holes most have alternative tees that can be used for your back nine.
The running order of the holes has been changed on a couple of occasions. The current third hole being the original opening hole after you’d walked through the driving range.
Even from the back tees, the course is still relatively short at only 5776 yards. Although as anyone who knows Sedgley will tell you it is quite high up so can be windy.
There are quite a lot of elevation changes on the course as well!
The opening hole is pretty straightforward with just a couple of fairway bunkers and a greenside bunker to deal with. The fairway is reasonably wide and rough not too severe. Stray too far to the right and you’ll be out of bounds on the adjoining road.
Veer too far to the left and trees and bushes will likely cause you some pain.
Like most of the greens, the first green is pretty flat and also on the small side.
You then need to follow the signs down to the second tee which is a reasonable walk.
The second fairway slopes quite a lot from left to right. Go too far on the left and you could be caught out with a dry ditch but too far to the right trees and bushes await.
The green is placed up above the fairway with trees behind and left. You can use the banking to the left of the green as a bit of a backstop to bounce your ball onto the putting surface.
Another reasonable walk through the woods gets you to the next tee, the former first hole.
The first par-3 is a nice drop hole with a bunker protecting the front left portion of the green. A pair of bunkers guard the right. Not too much other trouble, other than to the right where you could get tangled in a hedgerow.
The fourth is my favorite hole on the course. Depending on which tee is in play the hole is either fairly straight or a slight dogleg. A former field boundary runs across the fairway and you need to steer your ball between the trees. There is a pool that can catch you out to the right of the fairway. A well-struck drive should leave you a short iron into yet another flat green. The biggest problem is probably going long again into another hedgerow.
A short par-3 follows which is played slightly downhill. The green tends to slope away from you. Going long is not an option as you will be tangling in the undergrowth.
The sixth plays back uphill and is a short par-4 although longer hitters might fancy their chances of getting close to or on the green. Beware the out-of-bounds left and pond short right though.
The seventh is a similar length hole played across the slope so you’ll need to favor the left as best you can. Your ball will almost certainly be below your feet making your pitch awkward. The green features a small tier so you need to get your club selection correct.
Another hedgerow down the left of the hole can cause problems if you’re not careful.
Sedgley saves its longest two holes for last. The eighth hole is a sweeping dogleg left to right which plays slightly downhill off the tee and then slightly uphill to the green.
The fairway has an adverse camber making layup and approach shot tricky. Should you stray to the right you may find your ball lost in an impenetrable thicket.
The green features a rather severe tier and if you find yourself on the wrong one when the greens are quick then you will be faced with a very difficult putt.
Another calf testing hike brings us to the last. Another hole with a left to right sloping fairway and the second shot/approach played to a green set well above you. There is also a large mature tree blocking your access which you need to play under, over or around.
Based on its yardage it should really be a par-4. Given the uphill nature and the position of the tree you probably need to be quite a big hitter to reach the putting surface in two.
I was pleasantly surprised by my most recent visit. The greens are in as good condition as I have seen them. They were a little on the soft side however which is not surprising as from memory the course can get a bit wet at times.
The fairways are ok, again probably in as good a condition as I remember them.
Without a doubt the least impressive part of the course. A number of tees were actually set up on the fairway with the actual tee box being out of use for some reason. Even when you were on the actual tee box they did leave something to be desired.
First off anyone that ever played Sedgley would tell you that is definitely a physical challenge. It will certainly test out your fitness.
As for a golfing challenge it is definitely more about accuracy than brute strength.
If you are playing from the back tees then the second hole would be the most difficult given its length. Plus the fact you’re playing your second uphill to a green that is tricky to hit.
The other challenging part of the course is simply the fact that the greens are a little on the small side making them difficult to hit. Of course, the positive side of having smaller greens is once you hit them you’re unlikely to be left with a long putt.
Off The Course
The clubhouse is a basic affair in a portacabin although there is hot food available and some basic items are stocked in the shop.
The driving range is looking a little tired, to be honest.
There’s also the recently added minigolf and if you’re so inclined you can also pay a visit to the “farm”!
Mark Butler Golf Academy Course Review: Summary
The course is never going to be confused with a top-end facility but it also doesn’t charge top-end prices.
Nine holes were £13.50 and 18 holes will cost you £19.50. Membership is available for £450 and that is quite cheap when compared with other local courses but you have to look at the overall experience. For me, I would rather pay a little bit more money at one of the other 18-hole courses nearby.
If you are looking to play 18 holes I think you’d be better off playing some of the local courses such as The Staffordshire or Penn GC. If you pick the right time of day it would cost £20 or even less. Penn in particular should be in better nick and a much gentler walk.