The four-time host of the Ryder Cup attracts both blind devotion and some almost equally blind criticism. The locals are proud of the course and what it has achieved in putting Midlands golf on the map, and this pride infuses the universally friendly welcome. The army of greenkeepers should be proud of the first-class conditioning, true and fast-paced greens, and in their ability to return the course to tip top notch after early morning heavy rain. The course is a demonstration of what can be achieved when turning flat, unpromising countryside into an American style parkland course. An abundance of water hazards is inevitable in order to inject interest and challenge for all, with at least 10 holes having water genuinely in play. Of the water-dominated holes, the 4th and 8th are too similar to each other with their narrow water-filled ditches protecting their fronts, preventing any run up shot. The par3 12th and 7th are very good though, especially the crowned, raised putting surface of the 7th. The 18th is a great hole when playing to any format, but in strokeplay most will play the 10th with two flicks with irons, thereby dimming its lustre. There are some good holes here, not just the well-known ones. The 2nd is rather subtle in its design and the 16th is a gem with a green that slopes away from the fairway with the outside possibility of bouncing in off the front right mound. The 13th green also has the nice (almost linksy) touch of a run off leading balls into the back greenside bunker. Some might see the course as having a strong consistent design theme, while others will see the problem of repetitive holes, with few changes of pace, or holes that stand out. What you expect from a course in this respect will determine how you evaluate the value-for-money of the green fee at The Belfry.
Date: August 28, 2012