The Brabazon course
The Brabazon course is without the main attraction at The Belfry. As a four-time host of The Ryder Cup, more than any other course, this famous layout is steeped in Ryder Cup history. Who could forget Christy O’Connor’s famous 2 iron to the final green in 1985? Or Sam Torrance's 18th hole heroics just four years earlier; or the jubilant Paul McGinley sinking the winning putt in 2002?
As you might expect, the course itself is a fine test of golf too, where the excitement comes from playing iconic and familiar holes. The par 5 3rd is a cracker thanks to the work of Dave Thomas, who carried out renovations in the late 90s, and of course there are iconic holes such as the par 4 10th. Seve drove the green back in 1985 and ever since, that’s been the play for many a player with enough firepower to carry the water short and left of the green. Even if you lay up with your original ball, tee up another and have a crack; it would be rude not to!
Just like the 10th, the closing hole on The Brabazon is a thriller, totally defined by the almost overwhelming presence of water short and left of the green. This is a classic risk vs. reward par 4 where players can choose to be brave, hugging the left and cutting off some of the water from the tee, leaving a shorter approach shot into the green, which must carry the lake to find the long, slender green.
The iconic moments on these famous holes are what make a round on The Brabazon Course so special, and should inspire every golfer to visit and experience that legacy.
Designed by: Peter Alliss & Dave Thomas
Opened for play: 1977
Previously hosted: The Ryder Cup (1985, 1989, 1993 & 2002)
Blue: 7,160 yards, SSS 74
White: 6,729 yards, SSS 73
Yellow: 6,391 yards, SSS 71
Red: 5,796 yards, SSS 73
Signature Hole – No. 10: Par 4, 311 yards (Blue Tees)
It’s a bit of a tossup between
the iconic 10th and 18th holes on The Brabazon but we all
love a great risk vs. reward short par 4. The choice is simple: either hit a
long iron or fairway wood into position or, if you have the required length, go
for driver and try to carry the water short and left of the green in order to
set up a good chance for birdie. With so many classic Ryder Cup moments having
taken place here, there’s a real sense of excitement when you step onto the
tee. The 10th is one of the most picturesque holes on the course too
so regardless of how you choose to play it, you’ll be sure to enjoy the challenge.
The PGA National course
The PGA National course opened for play in 1997 to
strengthen The Belfry as a golfing resort and ease the traffic over the world
famous Brabazon Course. Since then the PGA National has established a superb
reputation of its own, hosting the Seniors European Open tournament, and was
the 1st course in Europe to carry PGA branding.
The main feature of the course is the tremendous bunkering,
designed to protect the large, undulating greens and when you add it all up,
the course presents a stern challenge very much in an American Stadium style. A
number of newly constructed lakes –
water comes into play on no less than 8 holes so pack plenty of balls! – and manmade
mounds provide definition to the holes and while the PGA National Course has
clearly been built with tournament golf in mind, it offers an entertaining test
from start to finish.
championship markers, the PGA National stretches to over 7,000 yards but fear
not; multiple sets of tees on each hole allow all golfers to find their comfort
zone. Still a relatively young course, The Belfry’s second championship course
is sure to continue maturing in the years to come.
Par: 72 (Blues), 71 (Whites), 70 (Yellows) & 73 (Reds)
Designed by: Dave Thomas
Opened for play: 1997
Previously hosted: 2x European Tour events & The Belfry Seniors
Blue: 7,053 yards,
White: 6,639 yards, SSS 72
Yellow: 6,153 yards, SSS 71
Red: 5,735 yards, SSS 74
Signature Hole – No. 12: Par 4, 405 yards (Blue Tees)
The 4th on the PGA
National Course offers drama and demands good accuracy and course management
from tee to green. You can choose to play safe from the tee, hugging the right
hand side of the fairway but this leaves a long and difficult approach shot
into the raised green which is well protected by 4 bunkers which aren’t visible
from the fairway, and are ready to catch anything coming up short.
Braver players can take on a
forced carry of about 220 yards to the left portion of the fairway which leaves
a much more manageable approach but with water all around, there is risk a
plenty. There are no places to hide on this hole and there won’t be many
undeserved pars being handed out either.
The Derby course
The Dave Thomas designed Derby Course at The Belfry was
opened alongside the Brabazon in 1977, and while it might not rank alongside
the two championship courses at the resort, it’s an excellent alternative for
higher handicappers, or for those looking for a more relaxing experience than a
round on a long championship course.
With a par of 69 and a more manageable total yardage of
6,099 yards, the Derby can be enjoyed by any standard of golfer, with fewer
hazards in play than on the PGA National and Brabazon Courses.
Par: 69 (Yellow Tees), 71 (Red Tees)
Designed by: Peter Alliss & Dave Thomas
Opened for play: 1977
Did You Know? The Derby Course at The Belfry was named after the Earl of
Derby. In a similar vein, the more famous Brabazon Course was named after Lord
Brabazon of Tara.
Yellow: 6,057 yards, SSS 71
Red: 5,573 yards, SSS 71
Signature Hole – No. 16: Par 3, 180 yards (Yellow Tees)
The 16th on the Derby Course is a picturesque par 3 which demands a
solid tee shot thanks in large part to the water hazard that guards the left
hand side of the green, as well as the bunker that guards the right. The kidney
shaped green offers many pin positions, some of which can be really treacherous
if you have designs on taking on the pin. Playing safely for the centre of the
green is the prudent play here and par is always a good score.
The Belfry is home to some of the
finest practice facilities in the country and visiting golfers can benefit from
world-class tuition at England’s only PGA branded Golf Academy. Practice /
teaching facilities at The Belfry include a 34 bay floodlit driving range, a
superb putting green and dedicated short game practice area, as well as 5 individual
custom fitting suites where golfers can make use of video analysis and launch
monitor technology to better understand their games.
At The Clubhouse
Named after Sam Torrance, who of course holed the winning
putt at The Belfry in 1985, as well as winning as a Captain here in 2002, Sam’s
Bar at The Belfry is a great place to enjoy a bite to eat or a well deserved
drink after your round. With an elevated seating area, golfers can also relax
while gazing out over the courses and during the summer months, a cold beer al
fresco style on the terrace is hard to beat as you watch golfers coming up the
18th, as well as taking on the exciting tee shot from the iconic 10th hole on
the Brabazon. A fire pit ensures you can enjoy al fresco dining even after the
sun has started to go down.
NB - Reservations cannot be made for Sam's Club House but
with ample space, it is very likely you will be accommodated.
The Belfry recently undertook an extensive £26 million
refurbishment programme which has restored the hotel and the resort facilities
so that they match the quality found out on the courses.
Despite being set in 500 acres of tranquil countryside, The
Belfry is just a short drive from the centre of Birmingham and can be easily accessed
from the M6 and M42, not to mention being just 20 minutes from New Street
Station and 10 minutes from Birmingham International Airport. If you’re leading
a life of luxury, the resort even has its own Helicopter Pad.
While the courses are relatively flat and easy
to walk, those who want buggies should book well in advance and check on buggy
restrictions in relation to course conditions.