Beau Desert - Staffordshire - England

Beau Desert Golf Club,
Rugeley Road,
Hazel Slade,
Cannock,
Staffordshire,
WS12 5PJ,
England


  • +44 (0) 1543 422626

  • Tim Gilpin

  • Herbert Fowler

  • Barrie Stevens

The Midlands is not necessarily considered a hot spot for golf courses but Beau Desert Golf Club is one of the few exceptions.

This is the Marquess of Anglesey’s golf course. He commissioned Herbert Fowler to design it and in 1913, Fowler completed the job. The golf club was formed seven years later, affording the poor Marquess some tax benefits and some income from the lease.

“About twenty-five miles away from Birmingham, near Hednesford, is Beaudesert, which Mr. Herbert Fowler originally laid out for Lord Anglesey. Here might be one of the very best courses,” wrote Bernard Darwin in The Golf Courses of Great Britain, “for the turf is excellent and there is a flavour of Gleneagles about it. It stands high and is pleasanter in hot weather than cold, for the wind can blow there with penetrating shrewdness.”

Beau Desert, or “Beautiful Wilderness”, is an unusual name for a golf course, especially for a course located in such a manicured landscape. The land once formed part of the Marquess’s Beaudesert Estate. Once upon a time, the area may well have been wild and woolly, but it isn’t anymore. These days acres of woodland frame this heathland course.

It’s certainly not a long course, measuring 6,485 yards from the tips, but it’s narrow, requiring accuracy from the tee. The greens are quite large, especially the 18th, and they are full of wicked borrows, so expect a few three putts. Additionally, the holes are varied and memorable. Beau Desert is no pushover; on numerous occasions it has hosted Open Championship qualifying rounds.

One of the treats at Beau Desert is that you play most holes in splendid isolation; you can lose yourself in the trees here. If you take Beau Desert alongside Whittington Heath and Little Aston, you will experience three of middle England's best inland courses.

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Reviews for Beau Desert

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Description: One of the many treats at Beau Desert Golf Club is that you play most holes in splendid isolation; you can lose yourself in the trees here. Additionally, the holes are varied and memorable. Rating: 5.3 out of 6 Reviews: 28

There are a lot of positives that can be said about the course at Beau Desert as it makes a rise and fall through the outskirts of Cannock Chase, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The location is very pretty and the routing is excellent where few consecutive holes are played in the same direction.

Making your score on the greens is key to a successful round as they’re beautifully undulating. Sadly, they had been top-dressed Beau Desert Golf Course - Photo by reviewer in the weeks leading up to when we played, but I think they’d be a real health hazard come mid-Summer. The opening few holes are good holes, but I felt that the course really came to life in the stretch from 4 through 7, an area that takes you through some beautiful fir and pine woodland. On several tee shots across the course, you have to thread your ball through tree lined alleyways with the risk and reward 260-yard par four 9th being one of the best short par fours I’ve played. You must be careful not to fall foul of the sharp drop-off to the rear and side of the green or what looks like a birdie opportunity could end up being costly.

As good as the course is, it does have the potential to get better and climb the rankings. They have recently added some new teeing areas which create these tunnel-like tee shots, but the course could still be improved with some rework to the bunkers.

Oddly you must wait until the 15th for the first par five, which along with the other long hole at 18, are two of the best designed holes that incorporate a need for thought and strategy to make the best score. The ridge that crosses 17 also forces decision making and the wonderfully quirky last hole, where you have to negotiate with groupings of heather along the fairway and a gigantic green complex brings the round to an end on a high.

4 / 6
Beau Desert
May 01, 2018


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My third trip to Beau Desert and once again I really enjoyed the course. In good condition with very tricky greens which would seem to hold the key to a good score. Previously I had played off the white tees, but this time we were off the yellows and to be honest they did detract a bit from the course design; in particular the 18th yellow tee makes it a bit of a nonsense of a drive (not my favourite hole anyway). Par 3's are ok and there are only two par 5's, so the par 4's are the real heart of the course. The 2nd, downhill dog-leg 4th, dog-leg 5th, 6th, 13th and 17th are all fine par 4's. However the stand-out/feature hole has to be the 12th, a double dog-leg par 4, the like of which I can't recall playing anywhere else; driver over the trees on the right of the fairway followed by long iron or rescue over the trees front left of the green makes for a testing and exciting hole. The course itself has quite a few elevational changes, good views over Cannock Chase, and quite a few dog-legs which gives the course a pleasing variety of holes. Beau desert is a delightful heathland course (equal to many in the Surrey area) and should be on more peoples radar.

5 / 6
Beau Desert
June 25, 2017


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Beau Desert is like a good book, a real page turner. After finishing each hole you just can't wait to play the next.

The course has 18 fantastic chapters. The first few set the scene, you are then taken on a wondrous journey, with a few twists along the way, before the closing stretch crescendos to a suspenseful finale and a very satisfying conclusion.

What Herbert Fowler has created here at Cannock Chase is sublime. Beau Desert borders on greatness. And whilst it doesn't quite reach the dizzy heights of a Sunningdale or St. George's Hill it comes extremely close and is much more than a very fine example of heathland golf.

Perhaps it is the par three's that hold it back slightly. Aside from the truly excellent seventh the others (3rd, 10th & 16th) are all good holes but lack the complexity that the rest of the course possesses. However, on my most recent visit here I played the 10th from the yellow tees and although much shorter the change of angle and increased visibility made a refreshing change.

Although new tees have recently been added at half a dozen holes, still only stretching the course to less than 6,500 yards, it is not length that is the main defence at this Staffordshire masterpiece. The greens are among the best, most challenging and enjoyable to putt on that I have ever encountered. Blessed with sneaky borrows putting really does become a game within a game at Beau Desert.

The intricacy of not only the putting surfaces, but the green surrounds too, is a fabulous test of your short game. Many of the greens feature drop-offs and gullies towards the back and sides requiring delicate recovery shots. On occasion you may find yourself chipping to avoid double-bogey rather than to save par.

The photogenic course is now played through spectacular woodland providing tranquillity throughout the round. The scenery is also outstanding making this one of the most enchanting places to play golf.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

5 / 6
Beau Desert
June 22, 2017


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Just wonderful, great variety of holes, most isolated , firm, fast greens. On a par with any Surrey/Berkshire course a must play if you are in the Birmingham area.

Best course in The Midlands by a long way, including Little Aston.

6 / 6
Beau Desert
August 28, 2016


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Waited a long time to play this course and was not disappointed. The greens were magnificent and like lightening. The course in superb condition. Spoke to the head greenkeeper who was preparing the course for a regional championship and was putting on the greens to check pin positions. Nice to see attention to detail. There are some beautiful holes in this course the 5th and 12th being memorable. I found the 18th a little fiddly and will no doubt play it better next time. Possibly along with the 10th the only weak holes on the course. It is not a long course but it certainly makes the most of what length it has. A very friendly club and well worth a visit.
5 / 6
Beau Desert
July 09, 2015


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As a keen golfer based in the NorthWest for many years I have been lucky enough to play most of the best courses that the NW and Midlands has to offer. Beau Desert had been on my 'to do' list for a long time, and I finally got the chance this week on a perfect sunlit September afternoon. My only dissapointment is that I had left it so long to play here! This is as beautiful a course as I have played for many a long time - constant reminders of Sunningdale New, St George's Hill and Woburn gives you an idea of the quality on offer. It's not a long course, but it was playing fast and firm, so any poorly struck shots were severely penalised by really tough rough and heather. The real fun however starts when you reach the greens. I am not sure I have ever played anywhere with such large green complexes - the 18th in particular is about as big as any green I have ever seen - they could have a different pin position for every day off the year! Even after a recent hollow tining and top dressing, the greens were still very quick, and if you got on the wrong side of some of the severe slopes, then a 3 putt was inevitable and a 4 putt entirely possible. There is a great mixture of holes - favourites for me included the 9th a 252 yard par 4 - brilliant risk reward hole, the 7th a stunning Par 3 requiring a very well struck shot across a valley and the 5th a very demanding par 4 which is the SI1 hole. Special mention for the 18th - a par 5 which is only 458 yards of the yellows, but easy to hit your tee shot too far, and then if you decide to go for it in 2, there is a sizable clump of gorse and rough which will gobble up anything which is not perfectly hit. If you do hit the grren in 2, you could easily face a putt of over 100 feet! Its not a long course - 5897 off the yellows and 6247 off the whites - tee shots off the whites tended to be a lot more demanding as the angles off the tee required more shot shaping to stay out of trouble. Overall a fabulous experience, great course in lovely condition, really friendly members, stunning scenery and most of all a feeling of almost complete isolation from the outside world - remarkable given that Birmingham is only around 10 miles awy. Only minor criticism would be that the bunkers could do with a bit more sand, but I am stil giving it a 6 ball, and hope to return again soon.
6 / 6
Beau Desert
September 11, 2014


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There is no doubting the spectacular location and the conditioning of the whole course is as good as can be. Having played Walton Heath, Saunton and The Berkshire on many occasions I was really looking forward to playing Beau Desert, although I really enjoyed my 36 holes on the day I could see at once that over the years the course must have definitely been fiddled with because it did nor feel like a Herbert Fowler course, additional hazards have been put in to punish rather than challenge the golfer to hit a great shot, successive committees at golf clubs always make changes based on their own games rather than the expert player, which I feel has happened here, this is the main reason why it does not get mentioned in the same breath as Ganton, Alwoodley etc... as it surely should, because the Golf World panel notice these things and they are very important, otherwise BD would be a top 70 course.
4 / 6
Beau Desert
August 06, 2014


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Hugh
August 06, 2014
Many great courses have been "fiddled with" over the years, even the Old Course and not always by architects that are expert golfers. Expert golfers turned designers do not always produce great courses. In any case, Golf World ranked Beau Desert at position 58 in their 2013 English hundred. That said your 4-ball rating is spot on. BD is good but not great.
Harrison Brown
August 06, 2014
Nothing wrong with fiddling, some courses get it right, Tandridge being the most recent one, they found all the Colt plans and got it spot on, Burnham and Berrow are always changing things and they always improve the course, I don't mean to disrespect BD in any way, the point I was trying to get across was that this is a spectacular location with a course that could be ranked along the likes of Ganton etc if it were taken back to the original Fowler design, the hazards were minimal but always perfectly placed. BD is still a great days golf but the potential has not been reached.
Such an enjoyable course. The tree lined dog-legs are a real feature and require accuracy and shape from the tee. The real test is the large undulating greens, where 2 putting can be a real challenge if you get in the wrong place. Can't wait to go back and try again. DB
5 / 6
Beau Desert
June 01, 2013


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11 of us (hcps 8-23) played Beau Desert on Wed 15th May 2013 and had a thoroughly enjoyable day. This was certainly helped by the General Manager, Steve Mainwaring who, along with his team, worked very hard to look after us; there had been some very wet weather overnight and SM gave us a discount because of residual water in some of the bunkers in the morning. Loved the course - there are some great holes, particularly the beautiful sweeping descents of 5 and 6 followed by the par 3 7th across the angle of the hillside. It was certainly easier the second time round to work out the best line off some of the tees (e.g. double doglegged 12th) and while the greens were in good nick you have to be careful with some pronounced slopes. The acid test is I'd be very happy to go back and play Beau Desert again if I had the chance and would recommend it as a great venue as part of a short golf tour. We played South Staffs and Little Aston in addition to Beau Desert - enjoyed all 3 but as a combination travel times were a bit long in morning traffic.
5 / 6
Beau Desert
May 20, 2013


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Situated on high ground next to Cannock Chase, Beau Desert is one of finest and prettiest tests of golf in the Midlands. Although the course is not particularly long it has been extended in the last couple of years with seven new tees and now measures 6458 from the tips. You will need to be arrow straight from the tee if you wish to use your driver on most of the par 4’s and 5’s. The smarter choice would be to play for position on many holes to give yourself a better chance of hitting the greens. The undulating greens protect the course superbly well and will test your putting ability to the limit. One of our 3-ball was a Pro and twice had to hole 6-8 footers to avoid the dreaded 4 putt! There are so many great holes on the course and I love the run from the 2nd to the 7th in particular. The 4th and 5th are both attractive doglegs, the 6th is a beautiful downhiller set amongst towering pines and the 7th over a valley is the best par 3 on the course. Long or short will make it very difficult to save par and anything left is dead. Walking the course will remind you of some of Surrey’s finest and it is very easy to forget that you are so close to a busy industrial region. Looking across the vast areas of forestry surrounding the course I couldn’t help think that it would be perfect for one or even two more courses. The 9th is a 258 yard par 4 and the 10th a short par 3 but again both are well protected and being out of position could easily mean double bogey. The 12th is a dogleg right where you must go over the trees from the tee to get a clear view of the green. Anything played up the left will be blocked out but you can choose to lay up, maybe a little quirky but great fun nonetheless. Holes 2, 5, 15, 17 and 18 are all fine examples of how cross bunkering or mounding can make a good hole look even better. Get a good tee shot away the par 5 18th and you may have the opportunity to reach the downhill green in two. You can be sure that plenty will have achieved this only to have 3 or even 4 putted the huge undulating green. Put this on your must play list, you won’t be disappointed. BrianW
5 / 6
Beau Desert
April 20, 2013


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