You know the saying, opinions are like ... well you get the gist. Everyone has them, and if you're at least semi serious about golf you'd have one on the Belfry. "6 good holes", "hackers paradise" "£175 a round is a joke" blah blah blah. Opinions are not a bad thing however, I'm here giving my two cents to whoever wants to read right now, but you have to do your best to wipe your conscience of it to really give an unbiased view.
The Brabazon course features a vast amount of two or even three tiered greens, making approach shots incredibly important. I would say it's an almost American type style course with big imposing bunkers and the beforementioned tiered greens.
Bearing that in mind, I was actually quite surprised. We'd gone up on the Sunday and played Little Aston. Stayed the night and the Belfry and played the Derby in the morning (probably the worst course I've played) lining up to play the Brabazon in the afternoon. We managed to get off a little early even after asking the poor starter for the inevitable picture next to the sign which he would've most likely done countless times.
The condition despite playing at 3pm was very good, a few of the fairways had been dressed with sand recently but the greens and other fairways were top notch. I started well putting my approach on the first to 5 foot which gave me some much needed confidence! I felt very unlucky on the second when my slightly pulled approach from the fairway landed dead on a sprinkler head, only about 10 feet from the hole and then proceeded to jump the green and give me a far far more difficult up and down! Bogey!
The third is a great hole, bunkers left and right make the tee shot difficult then offering an ultimatum whether to risk the big lake of water short or lay up. I managed to hit the green in two!! Only to find myself a 50 ft putt which I just about managed to scramble a birdie out of. There is water on every hole on the front nine apart from the first, providing a lot of consideration for what you should hit and where.
Some pretty holes follow until you get to the 9th with the green next to the 18th over the same lake. The 10th is what everyone talks about, people staying in the hotel will stand and watch, as did the group behind us as everyone waits for the green to clear on this signature hole. And you can't blame them, most people will never get even close but they've paid their green fee you might as well have a go, see if you can recreate some of the shots you will have seen in the 4, yes 4 Ryder cups this course has hosted.
Everyone has their story on the 10th. We played off yellow tees making the hole only about 230, I hit my 2 iron amazingly, just a tad left causing it to hit the giant mound just left of the green and to then bounce right towards the green, my heart was in my mouth as I watched it then hit the wooden sleeper 7 ft away from the left pin position only to see it then bounce back into the water! Agonisingly close but hey ho! From the dropzone I hit a great flop shot which finished 6 inches short to cap off one of the more eventful pars I'll ever have! The rest of the back nine is lovely as expected, a few holes which people will say are boring or uneventful but it is impossibly hard to create 18 golf holes which leave a mark on you, especially with a parkland course.
The twelfth is worth a mention, a great long par 3 with water short which creeps up towards the right hand side to a sort of paddling rock pool. My tee shot to 5 foot was probably my shot of the day if I had managed to sink the putt!
The 15th and 17th are great par 5's. the former with a giant bunker in the middle of the fairway short of the elevated green leaves a decision for those lucky enough to find the small gap between the trees to the fairway. Whilst 17 requires the bigger hitters to trust themselves and cut the corner off as a hook will leave you chipping out to get there in three (exactly like me!) All that leaves the 18th, someone had told me the day before it's the best closing hole you can play, and I don't think I'll be arguing here. One of the only bonuses for playing a 4 1/2 hour round as a two ball left me to really think about where I need to be, and after consulting google maps I figured I needed to aim well left comfortably over the treeline on the left. I hit the tee shot of the day, it ended in the rough but only with 170 to the green! The yellow tees were placed next to the white blocks (strange) on this hole so I was immensely proud. Only to slightly pull my second and leave myself probably the hardest chip of the year, having to stop it deadweight at the top of the three tiered green to then roll down towards the hole. There's a reason the pros are so good and it's because they can put these within 2 ft. I cannot so I had to settle for bogey!
To sum up.. Everyone has heard of the Belfry, it's held more Ryder Cups than any course and it's hard not to forget that with plaques on the course and even showing you where the team rooms are if you don't get lost looking! The only criticism is the pairings and the time of round. It's annoying to spend almost £200 and to have to be paired with another two ball. We were lucky enough to play without that but I can feel the frustration of those who do. They seem to let anyone with the money play the Brab making it painfully slow, it's part and parcel of it I suppose so I won't hold a grudge. It's a fabulous golf course, in great condition and that's why it attracts thousands of visitors each year. The complex itself is fantastic although incredibly pricy £42 for two burgers and two cokes is a little more than I'm used to paying but you don't come here every day!
Date: July 06, 2021