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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Alex
Loads better than I thought. Great feeling when playing the 10th and 18th. Some of the other holes are fine too and the course has matured loads since I was last there watching the Ryder Cups.A bit pricey at £140 but if you will not be dissapointed if you have the cash.
June 01, 2005
8 / 10
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Hugh
I played the Brabazon for the first time last week and my expectations were low based on comments in the golf press regarding condition and also backed up on this website. I was actually blown away by the condition and the whole experience. I really enjoyed my game here and I loved everything about it. A superb course and a great facuility too.
May 13, 2005
10 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
After reading comments from other golfers about the Brabazon, I was nervous that my wander around the famous 18 would be disappointing – Nothing of the sort, the Brabazon obviously has Ryder Cup history on it’s side – but the course is really good. Many varied holes ensure that you do need to play well to score well – There is a fair bit of effort going on to help winter drainage problems and this should keep any complaints to a minimum. Since the Ryder Cup days, the Brab now has no big events to stage – I think it is crying out for one. Surely this could do more justice to the British Masters than nearby Forest of Arden ?This was a great experience and also found the hotel facilities superb. Recommended. AN.
April 14, 2005
6 / 10
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Chris Jones
August 08, 2007
Your wish came true, British Masters back again in 2007 after a success last year.
Hugh
I played the Brabazon earlier this week, the third time I've played the course. Despite the recent weather, the course was in excellent shape and they have certainly improved the condition, which was clearly an issue (according to previous player reports and to a certain extent my previous experiences). Don't be put off playing this brilliant course because of past problems. There is so much familiarity and history that you become totally absorbed. Additionally, there's more to the Brabazon than the 10th and 18th. The 3rd is a stunning risk/reward par 5 that will tempt the big hitters. The par 4 6th is also a cracker as is the 9th. In fact I would go as far as to say that there are only two average holes on the course (1st and 11th). I like to come to a place to enjoy the day and the Belfry is a place to do just that. The practice facilities are as good as any in England (thanks to the PGA centre) and the service is informal and friendly. I can say that this view was shared by our entire group and we'll be back soon to try and play somewhere close to handicap! DW
April 13, 2005
10 / 10
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Bob
This is one tough course. You have to be an exceptional golfer to hit some of these greens in regulation- like the 4th (closed when we played it), 8th and 18th all long holes with greens protected by water. So much water and so many bunkers to ruin your card. To play this course well off the whites or blues you need total faith in your driver. This course does suffer from wet conditions more than most. The 10th and 18th holes are special. Two of our fourball both hit the 10th off the tee and same two made the 18th in 2. One of them even hit the 17th 545yard par 5 in two. Not me - I was just there to take the pictures!I thought layout/ design and as a test of golf it was excellent, condition was wet underfoot and greens slightly disappointing but it was early spring on a wetland course, clubhouse and ryder cup connections were excellent, the memories conjured up by the 10th and 18th certainly make this place special. Depending on weather conditions, this course has the potential to be an excellent experience or a slight disappointment.
March 24, 2005
6 / 10
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Lewis Grand
Very poor - I suggest they close the course for a few months and let it recover. It's very sad to see such a great course in such poor condition. It's certainly not worth the green fee. Someone needs to get a grip on the course.
February 07, 2005
1 / 10
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James Writer
Well what can I say......Shock Horror....It was just over three years ago when I played the Brabazon last time and no matter what people say about the design, the course used to be in amazing condition, immaculate in fact. Fairways like carpets, greens and tees to match, even the rough was manicured..... what has happened???? I just don't know, the course was terrible. For the amount of money you pay for a round of golf there I was disgusted. How can a course fall into such a rapid decline? You used to play the course and wish your own was in such amazing condition - every area so pristine, now the local municipal is in better condition. The fall of a giant...such a shame
November 26, 2004
2 / 10
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Lewis Grand
I was so excited about playing the Brabazon, having played the PGA many times. How disappointed I was. This was the worst course I have ever played in the autumn. Other than the 1st 10th and 18th holes the rest of the course was in such a poor condition, most of the fairways were unplayable water logged no grass in many places just a bog. One hole was even played from a matt 150 yards away from the green. The bunkers were appalling no sand in them only the holes nearest the clubhouse hand been raked.I have to say I would be embarrassed to take a customer to play there. Not even a discount offered £ 300 for a 4 ball to play in this condition is appalling.Don’t bother wasting your money this winter, play the PGA or Derby.
November 11, 2004
1 / 10
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Mark Jeffery
I had received so many comments concerning the courses at the Belfry that I had mixed feelings before my visit. All of the negative comments concerning the Derby and National courses are fully justified, they are very weak almost laughably so in the case of the Derby, and totally unbecoming of a venue of this quality. The Brabazon however in my opinion is a much better course with some great holes. It was in excellent condition as we played it a week after the aborted Ryder Cup in 2001 and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of playing such a famous and well photographed course. Whether is is worth the green fee, I'm not convinced of that one!
September 09, 2004
6 / 10
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stuart speechly
Perplexed, confused and amazed as to why this course still manages to have so much prestige. I can only imagine it to be the location and infrastructure because from a golfing prespective I nearly nodded off. Design wise it's nothing special. I just don't know what this course is doing in the top 100. Americans I've spoken to feel it to be a poor imitation of some of the more majestic target courses found out there. From what I've seen of the US courses on tv I have to agree.
May 31, 2004
1 / 10
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