Beau Desert - Staffordshire - England

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


  • +44 (0) 1543 422626

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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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: 8.3 out of 10 Reviews: 36
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Vorndron
All round superb. Great course, very friendly and welcoming staff, tranquil setting, ticks all the boxes. Yes the course isnt over long, we played off the whites and apart from the par 5's never more than a 6 iron second shot to most of the greens but having said that once on the greens thats were the course bites you. The greens are truely top quality, a delight to putt on. Very tricky and fast - beware. And 18 is an absolute brilliant finshing hole, a real risk/reward par 5. Cant give it a 6 ball rating (altough it probably warrants one!!), because when compared to Sunningdale, Ganton it just isn't quite as good - but not by much.
August 07, 2011
8 / 10
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Blake Norton
Just played the course at the start of October and I can't recommend this course highly enough. The greens were the best greens I have ever played on for this time of year. The surface of them was superb. The whole condition of the course was excellent. Favourite run of holes for me is the 6th - 9th. A must play golf course if you are in the area. A great day finished off with standing on the 18th tee and watching a group of deers disppear off into the pine forest.
October 07, 2010
10 / 10
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sean arble
Following his acclaimed work at the Old Course of Walton Heath (1904), a redesign of Westward Ho! (1908) and a few less well known courses such as Yelverton (1905) and Delamere Forest (1910), Herbert Fowler then created Beau Desert.

Commissioned by the Marquess of Anglesey whose family was gifted the land by Henry VIII shortly after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1551, it is thought the course cost some £18,000 to construct. For sure this was a huge sum of money, but not beyond the means of Charles Henry Alexander Paget who was one of the wealthiest men in Britain. Evidently, the Marquess was satisfied with the course for once Beau Desert was completed in 1913 Fowler was commissioned to design Bull Bay in Anglesey, not far from Plas Newydd, the main family residence of the Pagets.

Beau Desert sits at over 700 feet on Cannock Chase, land that at one time was a royal hunting forest then used as a hunting ground for the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. The Bishop created a deer park and hunting lodge named Beaudesert, Norman French meaning beautiful and lonely place. The course was eventually bought at auction by the club in 1932 for £4000 despite there being a mandate to bid up to £2500. It is rumoured the two agents were in their cups after a luxurious lunch and bid against each other! A heavy tax burden led the Marquess to eventually knock the price down to £2400 and the completion of the sale of the land was finalized in 1936.

Despite original representations to the Forestry Commission insisting that trees should not come within 30 yards of the fairways, Beau Desert is today a heavily treed course. The lower reaches of the Chase were extensively mined and the trees served to block the views of industry. Unwittingly, this program of tree planting destroyed several thousand acres of heathland which the Forestry Commission is now partially re-establishing. Due to the mining, subsidence has been a continual worry of the club. “Unruly" greens and the occasional hollow appearing uninvited prompted the club to call in golf architect FW Hawtree. His plan to tame some greens was never fully carried out because the members feared continued subsidence would negate their efforts.

A glance at the card reveals how the relative shortness of the course is balanced by a par of 70. This sort of configuration was common for courses built 75 or 100 years ago in the UK and many of today’s flat bellies believe that a course of just over 6300 yards as not much more than a pitch and a putt. However, the long game is tested with three par 4s that are drivable, four par 4s which often require a long club approach and the two par 5s which are reachable in two shots. The R&A appreciate the merits of Beau Desert for competition and used the course for regional Open qualifying seventeen years on the trot.

Among an assortment of fine essays in design, one in particular, the fifth, should surely be considered among the great holes in England. The downhill drive swings hard left and back up a distant hill. There is a distinct advantage to hugging the inside of the dogleg for it helps in avoiding the sentinel in the form of a rough clad mound short and right of the green. For those failing to find the fairway off the tee, a large sand pit awaits some fifty yards below the narrow green which is low on the ends and high in the middle. Some days this hole can befuddle and even enrage golfers, but it never fails to engage us.

There can be little doubt that Beau Desert is one of the very finest courses in the Midlands. Bernard Darwin heaped praise on the course; "Here might be one of the very best of courses 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." If one is intrigued enough to visit Beau Desert, be sure to look at the many photos in the clubhouse which highlight what the course looked like when Darwin wrote the above words - absolutely magnificent.
February 02, 2010
8 / 10
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Stefan Hindmarsh
February 02, 2010
Wow, that is a huge review! However it is a history of the course and could be found on the website! I commend your efforts but how was the course for you?!
Steve Holmes
February 22, 2010
This course is one of the very best I have played the views are spectacular the greens are superb and the clubhouse is steeped in history. There is no out of bounds on this course and yes its short but by god its a test placement golf. I have played Hillside, Formby, West Lancs and Royal Liverpool in recent years and I would put Beau Desert in my top 10 courses. I would put it in the UK's top 50 courses without a shadow of doubt.
Sean Arble
February 25, 2010
Stefan I would have thought my admiration for Beau Desert was obvious. It is my belief the course is among the best dozen or so inland courses in England. If it weren't for the penal rough and unnecessarily over-treed aspects of the course, I would short-list Beau Desert as among the best dozen or so courses in England.
Andrew Parry
Everything that has been said about Beau is true. It is a wonderful test of golf requiring shots to be shaped both ways and straight hitting as well.The greens are always in great condition and putting the ball in the right spot is a challenge in itself. play it every year off the whites and beats me up each time but I always come back for more. A definite Top 100 in the UK and one of the best in the Midlands if not the best!
September 05, 2009
10 / 10
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paul
Beau Desert is one of the best Heathland Courses in the Midlands and is somewhat of a hidden treasure, green fees are reasonable for a course of its stature and anyone looking for a real golfing challenge will not be disappointed. The course opens with a short uphill par 4 with the green is its main defence with some very difficult pin positions to be had, the course then heads out towards Cannock Chase and the holes get better as you progress into the round, the course has everything to make it top draw with a short drivable par 4 in the 9th , but a birdie is never a given on a mean undulating green, the par 3’s are all special without needing to be long ( 167 yards the longest) and again the greens are all tricky and with two par 5’s in the last 4 holes there is a chance for birdies on both if you get your drive away. 7 holes over 400 yards make this the challenge it is along with the deep rough and narrow fairways, these on the day we played were in wonderful condition and the greens although not that quick were good paced and very true. If you are in the area double this one up with Whittington Heath and you will have a trip to remember, I for one will be itching to get back for another crack at Beau soon.
September 02, 2009
8 / 10
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AJS
As you travel from Cannock towards Rugeley you find it difficult to believe you are going to play one of the best UK inland courses. Some beautiful views from its generally elevated position with little awareness of the other holes. The light rough is punishing and as for the dense rough, forget about looking for your ball. Tee shots require great accuracy, green are generally large but full of wicked borrows. Greens and the following tees are very adjacent and the course is easily walked. All greenstaff, catering staff and even club members are friendly and helpful.
July 08, 2009
10 / 10
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Robert Smith
I was playing in a Society day at nearby Whittington Heath on Thursday 21st May and having read about Beau Desert decided to play here the day before with a few other friends who were also playing the following day. What can I say??? This course if absolutely fantastic, a real "hidden gem" and I will definitely make the journey to play here again. As a previous poster has mentioned, the first hole is a little "weak" compared to the others and it is from the second that this course really gets going. The second in is as tough as the first is straightforward. Massive greens, but some of the best conditioned that I have putted on for years. Each one true and evenly paced. The front 9 is quite tight in places, beautiful treelined lush fairways that were a pleasure to play on. The back 9 opens up a little and becomes a little more "heathland" in it's appearance but is every bit as good. Don't be deceived by the length of the 10th (par 3). One of the shortest holes I've ever played but it was my first N/R of the round, I was playing superb golf until I got to this one! Still managed to play to my handicap over the 18 holes, thanks to a great front 9. This course definitely jumps into my personal top 10 courses played. No question. If you are ever in the area I would consider this a "must play". Take my advice, book a round now. This course can hold it's own against the best that the great golfing county of Surrey can offer.
May 22, 2009
10 / 10
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Len Palmer
Played this course on April 16th for the first time - simply cannot believe that there are 125 better courses than this in England. In my view it is "a belter" and way better than many clubs (that I have played) that are higher rated - if this course was in Surrey it would be ranked in the Top 100. If you haven't played - do so !!!
April 16, 2009
10 / 10
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Andrew Parry
Get this course in the Top 100. It asks everything of a golfer, accuracy, length, top short game skills and careful putting to keep a tidy card. Play it every year and haven't got close to handicap yet. Unfashionable location although in a great setting. You need to be able to shape the ball both ways. For foreign golfers, forget the overpriced Belfry and travel the few extra miles to play Beau (no I'm not a member just a big fan of this wonderful test of golf). Welcoming clubhouse and good food.
December 30, 2008
10 / 10
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Pantera_Heath
Played here in the Stag last week and what an unbelievable experience it was. Beau Desert is a wonderful course with punishing heather and extremly tricky greens. Every hole was great but the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 12th and 18th were my favourites. I've played the Hotchkin at Woodhall Spa and i'm not saying that Beau Desert is a better course, but it is certainly my favourite. The pro shop staff were also very friendly and helpful along with everyone at the golf club.
May 15, 2008
10 / 10
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Nathan
June 01, 2008
Played this course last week and in my view it should definitly should be in any uk top 100 list. Alot better and far more memorable than other so called 'top 100' courses like Worplesdon, West Hill or the Addington.
SC
November 09, 2008
Beau Desert has to be the most underated course in Britain. It is an amazing golf course with some of the best green complex's in England. This course needs re-rating and moving vastly up the rankings.