There are three reasons to play the Brabazon course at The Belfry. The first is to play the course that has hosted more Ryder Cups than any other course in history. If one is a long hitter, then having a go at the driveable tenth green much like Seve Ballesteros did is worth playing the rest of the course. Finally, this is a course made for the better, longer player who wants to test their driving ability as this course is all about the tee shot.
I do not care much for the course because as an American who has played a lot of “big” courses with lakes/ponds I do not find anything unique about the Brabzon other than the tenth hole. The course seems overly manufactured to make up for the shortcomings of the land. There is a repetitiveness to the course in both the placement and style of bunkers as well as the land itself is not interesting. Several greens have a similar “narrow” look at the entrance. Water is as prevalent here as it is on a course in Florida.
I do like the routing from Dave Thomas/Peter Allis with both nines going out and back to the clubhouse in opposite circles. I also like that this parkland-like course does not allow trees to overwhelm the golf course as there are plenty of defenses.
The key to a good round here is avoiding the bunkers as the water is pretty easy to avoid unless one hits a truly bad shot. The greens are not overly difficult to read, even the three-tiered green is easy to figure out the line. Figuring out the speed is a bit more difficult on some greens but generally once the pace is learned on the first few holes it should not be a problem. The ninth has a nice sloping green.
Like many, I would note that the tenth and eighteenth are two of the better holes with both holes requiring decisions. If one does not have the length to try to drive the tenth, then if you have confidence in your wedge game you will still have a good chance at birdie unless the pin is placed closer to the edge of the green bordering the water. The green itself is somewhat flat and easy to read. The eighteenth is a fine hole with two shots over the water. One could argue the green is overly tricked up – much too wide and long with those three tiers but on the other hand it is a unique green. One may find the best approach is to lay up for their third and wedge the next shot as close as possible. The bunkers are not that difficult to extract one’s ball.
I do like how the routing incorporated streams on many holes such as on the second, fourth, fifth, eighth, eleventh, twelfth and seventeenth. As for the lakes/ponds, they did not do much for me other than they are visually pleasing. As an aside, I do not think any of them qualify to be called lakes, they simply are not big enough, but maybe that is just my personal definition.
The par 3’s are all longer. I like the seventh the best due to the elevated green and vertical bunker at the front. While the twelfth is the harder par 3 due to its length and uphill green, I did not find enough interesting about it nor the fourteenth.
The par 5’are all three shot holes for me and four and fifteen feel a bit similar. Seventeen has a sharp dogleg that makes it standout from the two others.
The par 4’s vary more by which hole has a lake/pond as it seems as if every green complex had the same bunkers on either side. Other than ten and eighteen, I like the eleventh and thirteenth.
I played the Belfry twice, twenty years apart. The course seemed to be exactly the same as when I first played it. Perhaps that is because they do not want to touch the “Ryder Cup” course or perhaps it is financially difficult to maintain three courses, one of which The Derby course, is one of the worst courses I have ever played. For me, I would only play the Brabazon for the three reasons I mentioned. With the benefit of hindsight, I did not need to go back as I do not find it to be interesting enough to play. It does have its challenges, due to length, the amount of water, and the number of bunkers, but visually it is repetitively boring and not particularly memorable. With regards to my American friends, I tell them to play here only if they are heading to Liverpool from London on the morning they land and want to play a round of golf before finding their hotel room. Otherwise, drive all the way to Liverpool.
Date: March 01, 2020