Located in the heart of England and just 13 minutes from Birmingham International Airport, The Belfry is steeped in British golfing heritage and a main stage of the DP World Tour. This month once again provides the venue for the Betfred British Masters hosted by Sir Nick Faldo, and the Brabazon Course will no doubt deliver the drama.
The traditional park land course was designed by Dave Thomas and Peter Alliss. It opened in 1977 and it was unveiled to the public with a challenge match between Seve Ballesteros and Johnny Miller versus Tony Jacklin and Brian Barnes.
The Belfry has held four Ryder Cup matches dating back to 1985 when Europe defended America for the first time since 1957. That historic victory in many ways elevated the Ryder Cup as from that event onward the duel between the two sides would deliver some historic clashes.
The battle was fought once more at the Belfry in 1989, which will be remembered for Christy OíConnor Jnrís legendary two iron which came to rest three feet from the pin at the last to set up the win against Fred Couples.
In 1993 the American side would have their revenge as Tom Watson captained the team to a 15-to-13-point victory at The Belfry. The Ryder Cup would return to the Brabazon Course one more time in 2002 and despite the American side fielding an in form Tiger Woods, it was Irelandís Paul McGinley that sunk the winning putt for Europe on the 18th. That hole certainly has the luck of the Irish!
Playing the Brabazon Course
From the opening tee shot in front of the iconic clubhouse you can see why the DP World Tour use the course to keep the professionals on their toes. To score well your course management needs to be on point. Bunkers, streams, and lakes are positioned to challenge your game. From carry distances to layup yardages there is always a hazard the prevents you from just taking a mindless shot.
Through all the concentration you must take time to reflect on some of the most historic golfing moments to have taken place on the course. Thankfully for me, the one that instantly comes to mind is marked with a plaque. That being when Seve drove the 10th green at the 1978 Hennessey Cup and it was the shot you could argue put The Belfry on the golfing map.
For that reason, when you play this hole, a Seve mulligan is essential. But remember he managed the 310-yard carry with a Persimmon wood and a balata ball!
If you want to try and take on a more daunting challenge, try a two iron from Christy OíConnor Jnr’s plaque on the 18th. Carrying the pond would be a successful outcome but finding the green would be something worth boasting about.
The course might not be the longest on Tour these days, but those well-placed hazards and clever use of doglegs prevent the monster hitters from turning it into a point-and-shoot course.
Other courses to consider
The Belfry has two more courses to offer, The PGA National and The Derby. The former has an inland links feel, with fast running fairways, undulating greens, severe run-offs and 70 strategically placed deep bunkers. Having a completely different feel to the Brabazon challenges your game in a different way, even though the two courses run parallel to each other. Both are a stiff test which is why I love the The Derby Course. Designed by Thomas and Alliss, this 6,000-yard layout feels like a scaled down Brabazon and gets you thinking without reaching for the driver.
Costs in July with GolfNow.co.uk
Brabazon – £195
PGA National – £90
The Derby – £45
The Belfry Hotel room – from £169 per night
Other Hotels nearby by worth considering
Best Western / Sutton Coldfield – from £135 per night
Appleby Inn Hotel / Swadlincote – from £85 per night
Bulls Head / Hartshorne – from £85 per night
FLIGHTS (JUNE -JULY)
Emirates Airline flies twice a day to Birmingham International Airport.
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