The Belfry (Brabazon) - Warwickshire - England

The Belfry,
Wishaw,
North Warwickshire,
B76 9PR,
England


  • +44 (0) 1675 470301

  • Golf Club Website

  • 1 mile N of Wishaw

  • Welcome - book in advance - handicap certificate required


The Belfry played host to the 1985 Ryder Cup and was also host in 1989, 1993 and 2002. No other club has staged three Ryder Cups, let alone four, so The Belfry’s Brabazon course has become a Ryder Cup synonym. 1985 was a breakthrough year for Europe when Sam Torrance holed the winning birdie putt. Europe 16 ½ - USA 11 ½. The 1989 Ryder Cup matches were halved and this event heralded the commercial coming of age for the Ryder Cup, which featured the largest tented village ever seen at a sporting event in Britain. Europe 14 - USA 14. 1993 was the year of the US veterans Chip Beck and Raymond Floyd who claimed five points from a possible six. Payne Stewart and Jim Gallacher were also on form for the US. USA 15 - Europe 13. Delayed by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the 2002 Ryder Cup was decided by a strong European singles performance that was sealed by Paul McGinley’s 8-foot par putt on the 18th, which secured a halve against Jim Furyk. Europe 15 ½ - USA 12 ½. The Ryder Cup was played at PGA National in 1983, Muirfield Village in 1987, Kiawah Island in 1991, Oak Hill in 1995, the Country Club, Brookline in 1999 and Oakland Hills in 2004.

The Brabazon course at The Belfry doesn't need introducing. After all, it's unique. This course has played host to more Ryder Cups than any other course on the planet – four in total. The Americans must dislike it, because team USA has only once triumphed here. Additionally, and for only the second time in Ryder Cup history, the 1989 biennial match was halved, but Europe retained the trophy because they were still the cup holders following their win in 1987 at Muirfield Village, Ohio.

The Belfry itself owes much to the vision and determination of one man, Colin Snape. In the mid 70s, Snape was the director of the financially struggling PGA. Over a pie and a pint, Peter Alliss told him that an old hotel on the outskirts of Birmingham was available as a potential new location for the PGA HQ. In 1977, The Brabazon (named after former PGA president, Lord Brabazon) opened for play with a challenge match, Seve Ballesteros and Johnny Miller against Tony Jacklin and Brian Barnes. The Belfry has never looked back.

Alliss and Thomas were given an unremarkable piece of farmland, which required significant sculpting to turn it into a remarkable golf course. For many visiting golfers, The Belfry (and The Brabazon course, in particular) is Mecca. Everyone wants to play here; it's an exciting golfing venue, drawing thousands of visitors each year.

The excitement comes from playing memorable and familiar holes. And, following Dave Thomas's £2.7m makeover in the late 90s, there is more water on The Brabazon than just about any other inland course in the British Isles – take a few extra balls. The course has two outstanding holes, which have been popularised by television – the 10th and 18th. The former is a unique short par four, measuring about 300 yards, with water running along the right hand side of the fairway. It is driveable – you've seen Seve do it – so go on, go for it.

The 18th is another hole that is totally dominated by water and it's terrifying. This dramatic, par four closing hole, rewards the brave. Cut off as much of the water as you can chew from the tee, and you will be left with a shorter approach shot, which must carry a lake on its way to a long, narrow, triple-tiered green. This hole has seen more Ryder Cup emotion than any other hole in the world. For this reason alone, to follow in the footsteps of golf's greatest legends, The Brabazon is a must-play course. But it's not everyone's cup of tea.

Tom Doak commented as follows in his original Confidential Guide to Golf Courses: “For some reason the designers have tried to bring American design concepts to British soil, but the stylized, Trent Jones-style bunkers and multiple-tiered greens, and an utterly failed attempt to imitate Pete Dye’s telephone poles to line a bunker (it looks like a bunch of Lincoln logs on end in a sandbox), imitate the worst elements possible.” The bunkers have changed since a young Doak penned the above comments and he tempered his words in the latest series of confidential guides. Interestingly, his rating also improved, up from 4 to 5 (out of 10), so maybe the Brabazon is not so bad after all.

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Reviews for The Belfry (Brabazon)

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Description: The Brabazon course at The Belfry doesn’t need introducing. This course has played host to more Ryder Cups than any other course on the planet – four in total. Rating: 6.5 out of 10 Reviews: 72
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Pete
Played 28/2/08. The history alone makes it great to play. Standing on the tenth is a great feeling. There is a bit of work going on at the minute, The par 3 seventh had four guys working around the bunkers who simply sat down and beckoned us to play over them and the eleventh had three guys and a JCB to play over, not usual hazards you'll agree. Without the history it's just another course, my local course is in better condition and is considerably cheaper to play.Overall, if you get the chance, play it. Try and get the offers though. Or even better a freebie like me. ;-)
February 28, 2008
6 / 10
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Patrick Skakel
Played the Brabazon today for the first time, after walking round the course during various european tour events. It was everything i expected of it and more and was very impressed with the condition of the course. There was redevelopment of the 11th green taking place, so a temporary green was in play and that hole was a bit of a mess, but the rest of the course was fantastic. It's a fantastic test of golf, although fair, if you can manage your way round. It is a perfect risk or reward course where i experienced both, hitting the 10th green off the tee, but putting one in the water on my approach to 18, after leaving myself a 230 yard 3 wood attempt. The hole is always there to catch you out for any over agressive play and the greens can be punishing if you end up on the wrong side of them, particularly the 16th and 18th holes. It is a particularly enjoyable place to play and the history of the place hits you at certain times. One of the best courses that i have played in the british isles so far although it is not yet up there with the famous links in Ireland and Scotland. Great course!
February 10, 2008
8 / 10
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Damian Jeal
Played just yesterday, only a week after the british masters and the course was in immense condition!! After playing this I can understand why the Ryder cup has been played here... as it can test even the best pro's. It is by far the hardest, but nicest course I have played. Every hole is different and offers varying challenges.... if you play try and hit the green on the tenth off the tee!!! I did and its an awesome feeling!! Only down side about the whole experience was in the bar, as the staff were lacking and some were not sure how to poor or mix drinks!! Only a minor criticism to the best course I have played! I can only think those people offering a 1 ball to this course played badly and lost a few balls.... just because you play badly does not mean it is a bad course!! ;-)
October 02, 2007
10 / 10
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paul turner
This course is at 28th England and 74th in the Isles. I do not think it should crack the top 100 in either category. The land wasn't much to work with but ugly detail work in both hazards and green construction gives us The Belfry: the embodiment of all that's wrong with modern golf course architecture.
August 30, 2007
1 / 10
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Chris Jones
September 20, 2007
Very very harsh.... I can understand that it is about opinions but never a 1-ball rating.
paul
October 04, 2007
I would wonder what you do rate as a course, the Brabazon is what it is,a tournament venue with a good mix of holes and features!I have played it 3 times now and can honastly say it is a good track,I get the feeling you expect so much from this because of the Ryder Cup .
richard
Played this course on the 18/9 and I thought it was really good, got a good deal too, 4 of us paid £150 each and got to play the Derby on Sunday, 1 night in the hotel and then the Brabazon on Monday, free food also.
September 19, 2006
8 / 10
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Alex
Played it today in windy conditions and I have to say I enjoyed it, the course held the British Masters less than a month ago and you could not tell as the condition was really good. I personally would not stump up the green fee cost (£140 I think) as I was lucky to play it on a coporate day - so as it was free I enjoyed the course. Yes some holes are plain 1st, 2nd, 5th, 11th + 13th but some of the others are great (as you know them from seeing them on the TV) 9th, 10th, 15th, 16th 17th + 18th.
June 20, 2006
6 / 10
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Carl Statham
I agree with the last reviewer this is a good course. Obviously with it's clay sub soil it is only playable in summer and the rough was very wet when we played. I do not really like these American stadium courses but this course is very strategic and has a very strong run of holes at the end. I agree that to look at it's not the prettiest place to be but it is a good well maintained course with a great history. Would I go back though, probably not.
April 22, 2006
6 / 10
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ryan
I am very surprised by some of your other reviewers comments. In my view this is a fantastic course and has far more thrills than just the 10th and 18th alone - for example the 17th is fantastic. This course is an absolute must play however it is a bit pricey but none the less an unforgetable experience.
April 17, 2006
8 / 10
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Warren K
A golf course surely not warranting its place in a top 100 anything? Potentially a top 100 for Ryder Cup reasons, but surely that doesn't make this a Good Golf Course? The Americans are polite when they comment "an ok course - C Strange"... Well outside the top 100, fame for fame sake. Many local courses rate higher than this.
January 11, 2006
2 / 10
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Adrian Gaspar
Basically £140 to play the 10th and 18th. Go on a corporate (as I did) otherwise don't bother. Alternatively make up a list of all the majestic courses you could play for much less (sometimes half the cost) and see if you still think its worth playing.
November 08, 2005
2 / 10
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