The Belfry needs little introduction: after all, the Brabazon course has played host to more Ryder Cups than any other. So it's not surprising that when they decided to build a third course to complement the Brabazon and Derby, it would come under serious scrutiny.
Opening for play in 1997, the Dave Thomas-designed PGA National course was the first course in Europe to carry PGA branding. It's a stern, challenging course, which has been built along distinct American lines. With four newly constructed lakes and extensive mounding providing separation between the fairways, the PGA National has clearly been built as a tournament course, with spectators in mind. Despite the fact that the course has been constructed on open farmland, there are a number of interesting elevation changes.
From the "James Braid" blue tees, the course stretches out to 7,053 yards, but from the "Harry Vardon" yellows, the layout becomes a manageable 6,153 yards. The key to scoring well is very much about avoiding the hazards. Water comes into play on eight holes and the bunkering – especially around the greens – is well thought out.
The PGA National is maturing nicely and once the newly planted trees have grown up, the course will become tighter and more aesthetically pleasing.