Penn Golf Club Review
Course Name: Penn Golf Club
Course Name: Penn Golf Club
Location: Penn Common, Penn, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, WV4 5JN, UK
Date Played: Various over the last 25 years
Course Type: Heathland
Penn Golf Club Review: Introduction
Penn Golf Club was formed in 1908 when The South Staffordshire Golf Club decided to move from Penn Common to its current site in Tettenhall.
A number of members preferred to stay on the common so a new club was born. Just prior to the move the course consisted of 18 holes totaling 4700 yards in length.
Over the last century or so the course has been lengthened quite a bit!
Indeed some of the land currently in use as the golf course had been used as a racecourse. You will still often see recreational horse riders using some of the paths through or around the course.
One of the bugbears of Penn G.C. for many years was the fact that it was common land and certain people still had grazing rights. Some still tended to exercise those rights I believe!
That issue has now been resolved. The fact that it is ‘common’ land means that many locals seem to think they have free rein to walk wherever they like. This is in spite of the danger of being hit by a golf ball.
In the 25 years or so since I first played Penn Golf Course, there haven’t been many large changes apart from the removal of a tree (or was there more than one?) in the middle of the first fairway. I always thought it was an interesting feature. Not many courses have trees in the middle of the fairway and this always made for an interesting choice off the tee.
The course is split into two sections by a road that cuts through the common. 11 holes and the clubhouse on one side and the remaining seven on the other. I’ve been told that at one point you actually had to play over the road. Definitely wouldn’t be allowed in today’s health and safety world!
The club has also made a concerted effort in recent years to try to return the course to a more heathland feel. It has cleared out some of the undergrowth and some conifers. (eg around the ninth tee)
On the first hole, you can’t just blast away with your driver because of two bunkers positioned on the fairway. There is also a drainage ditch that cuts right across the hole.
The second hole brings you back towards the clubhouse slightly uphill. You should favor the right of the fairway as a little ditch running down the left could catch you out. The green is set up above the level of the fairway so make sure you allow for that.
The third hole is a tricky one. You have out-of-bounds all the way down the left-hand side. You also have a ditch that runs down the left side before cutting across in front of the green. Assuming you avoid the ditch and rough off the tee you are then left with an approach over the ditch to a green tight up against the out-of-bounds. At times I’ve known the greens to be pretty firm during the summer and it could be quite tricky to get yourself onto this green.
The fourth is the first par-5. The hole has a gentle dogleg from right to left. Too far left off the tee and you’ll be out of bounds. Stray too far to the right and you may catch a small ditch. A reasonable drive will allow you to see the rest of the hole. Make sure you favor the right-hand side of the fairway whether you’re going for the green or laying up as the slope will tend to take your ball away to the left.
The fifth hole plays uphill and has a sharp dogleg left. Be careful if you try to cut the corner off as anything not struck well could end up in a rather deep bunker.
The next par-4 has quite a tight driving area with the trees narrowing in on either side. Long hitters will also have to take care because of the ditch that bisects the fairway just out of sight of the tee. The green slopes quite a lot and you will need to take account of that with your approach, particularly in the summer.
The seventh is the first par-3 and seems to have been squeezed in at some point, when other alterations to the course took place, perhaps. Shouldn’t be much more than a short iron for the majority of players. The green has a fair bit of undulation and anything long can end up in some quite nasty rough.
The next hole is a bit of a beast where you drive slightly uphill before turning a little left to see the green. All but the longest hitters would need two very good wood shots to hit the green.
The final hole of the front nine brings us back in the general direction of the clubhouse. It is a long par-3 protected by bunkers on either side.
The back nine starts with a shortish par-4 where you feel you can open your shoulders somewhat. Certainly, shots to the right shouldn’t end up in too much trouble as they will be on the 18th fairway.
Over the road to the 11th and another shortish par-3. The tee that I remember using most often years ago seems to have fallen into disuse and the hole now plays around 130 yards in length. Should you fail to make a good connection there is a lot of rubbish and a ditch short of the green. A well-struck shot should find the putting surface without too many problems.
A dogleg right par-4 follows. Longer hitters may prefer to cut the corner and leave themselves with a tiny flick to the green. Trouble abounds though if you leave it out to the right. A more cautious approach aiming at the marker post could still only leave a medium to short iron to a fairly flat green. Although you should beware going right and there is also a fair bit of trouble short left.
The 13th is a par-5. If you’re playing it from the back tee you’ll have to carry a couple of pits. It’s a fairly straight hole but with O.B. left. Your second or third shot depending upon your level of play will have to carry another dip in order to get to the green. Beware of the camber of the fairway near the green as your ball will kick left into the rough.
Next up is a par-4 where your ball is landing on an upslope. The fairway is protected by trees on both sides so you need to hit a straight shot. Don’t over club with your second as you will be in deep trouble.
Off the next tee, you may need to make a choice depending on how far you hit the ball. There is a ditch right the way across the fairway around 150 yards from the green. There’s also quite an annoying tree on the right-hand side if you veer too far that way. If you need to run your approach in then favor the right otherwise the slope will gather your ball and take it away toward trouble.
Three holes to go. The 16th is a par-3 played through a chute of trees. Try to avoid going past the pin, particularly if the greens are fast as you will struggle to two-putt.
17 requires a well-struck tee shot to find the fairway. Your second shot can be made quite awkward by the undulations of this particular fairway. A mishit approach could put you in the ditch that crosses your path. The green is fairly flat and protected by a bunker front right.
The final hole can be pretty tricky unless you are a long-hitter. Out of bounds is definitely in play on the left for much of the hole. The slope of the fairway means you are likely to have the play a long second shot with a ball well below your feet. The green is protected by a couple of bunkers but make sure you don’t go long as you will be out of bounds.
For many years I considered the greens at Penn to be amongst the best in the area. Although I was tending only to play the course in inter-club matches or other competitions so was probably seeing it at its best. I have heard from a couple of former members and by looking at some of the reviews over the last 20 years or so that it can get a bit wet during the winter. It was certainly a bit too muddy for my taste, although to be fair that was following some of the wettest weather on record.
As with the greens, historically I found the fairways to be pretty good although some can get a bit wet by the look of it during the winter.
The tees all seem pretty well looked after and are generally nice and flat with no steep slopes to climb up or slip over on!
Personally, I always found Penn to be quite a challenging course. There were always plenty of opportunities to drop shots and I didn’t see many easy holes!
I suppose long hitters might not find it too challenging as long as they were hitting it straight. Arguably you could say the same about almost any members club!
Off The Course
There’s a pleasant clubhouse offering refreshments and a relatively new professional shop. There’s a warmup net, putting green and a small area for chipping practice.
Many people probably wouldn’t realize that there is such a natural oasis a stone’s throw from Wolverhampton town center. It is a nice friendly members club but probably not quite as challenging or as well-kept as Enville G.C. for example.
It’s definitely worth a game if you’re in the area particularly as the club does tend to offer some good deals on green fees at off-peak hours anyway.
From the white tees, Penn Golf Club has a slope rating of 123 and a course rating of 71.6.