The Belfry (PGA National) - Warwickshire - England

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


  • +44 (0) 1675 470301

The Belfry needs little introduction: after all, the Brabazon course has played host to more Ryder Cups than any other. So it's not surprising that when they decided to build a third course to complement the Brabazon and Derby, it would come under serious scrutiny.

Opening for play in 1997, the Dave Thomas-designed PGA National course was the first course in Europe to carry PGA branding. It's a stern, challenging course, which has been built along distinct American lines. With four newly constructed lakes and extensive mounding providing separation between the fairways, the PGA National has clearly been built as a tournament course, with spectators in mind. Despite the fact that the course has been constructed on open farmland, there are a number of interesting elevation changes.

From the "James Braid" blue tees, the course stretches out to 7,053 yards, but from the "Harry Vardon" yellows, the layout becomes a manageable 6,153 yards. The key to scoring well is very much about avoiding the hazards. Water comes into play on eight holes and the bunkering – especially around the greens – is well thought out.

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Reviews for The Belfry (PGA National)

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Description: The PGA National has a distinctly American feel...it's a tough tournament course, which sits nicely alongside the Brabazon golf course at the Belfry. Rating: 4.4 out of 10 Reviews: 24
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Mike Parker

I really enjoyed the PGA at the Belfry. I have played the Brabazon previously so was interested to compare to the Ryder Cup course. I must say my expectation was low due to the scathing reviews online. I am am delighted to say that I do not recognise any of the criticisms made in some of the reviews. The course condition was excellent the greens, tees, fairways and bunkers were superb. I will say that I don't really feel like it is an inland Links as described even though the lack of recent rain meant it was very fast.

All in all a brilliant welcome and a great course with challenge where you have to place the ball and pick your spots.

August 11, 2022
8 / 10
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Paul Crane

What a shame. Like the Brabazon, the PGA is somewhat hamstrung by the terrain it sits on, however Dave Thomas has done a commendable job of making a worthwhile course routing. By utilising the limited water and adding mountainous bunkering (more on that later), it really makes you plot your way around the course and rewards thinking golf - a course guide is highly recommended here.

The shame comes from the condition of the course. If your local municipal had fairways and greens in a similar condition, you’d be quite happy, but for a course with the green fee and prestige of the National it is simply not good enough. And then the bunkers. Huge, massive lips and hugely punishing, by itself no problems. The problem occurs when there is no sand in the bunkers, just a clay / mud mix making it virtually impossible to escape. I understand that they are designed to punish, but I’m not sure Mr Thomas meant for them to be in such a state.

All in all, the course needs a lot of TLC and currently isn’t worth the green fee, but hopefully one day they will maintain the course to a level which reflects the course design & if and when this happens, I look forward to returning to play it again

April 18, 2022
3 / 10
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Gary Harvey

Such a shame. After getting over the fact our round was 5.5 hrs due to a fog delay and the course being rammed full to fit us all in, and a coffee that saw negligible change from a fiver....we too the first tee. A boring hole but quite a nice opener.

You then play the best 3 holes on the course. The par 5 2nd with hazards galore requires a decent tee shot and accurate approach. A par 3 that looks nice to the eye and a par 4 with 180 yds of water before another pond and bunkers.

Now, officially the PGA course has bunkers, but I'm not sure when a hole filled with mud becomes a poorly kept bunker or is just called a hole filled with mud. Of our group, the 7 or 8 we entered were probably just squeezing into the bunker definition....just

We were advised by the marker to do pick and place anyway as the course was wet, which I perfectly understand in March in the UK. However, I'd have been screwed if it was fairways only as you couldn't see where they ended and the rough began. No definition from the tee to work out where the holes went, a complete contrast to the Brabazon.

From the 5th onwards, no hole sticks out to me. None were poor holes, but none were particularly memorable. 14 15 16 are a nice trio of a dog leg par 4 (blind) a par 3 and a split fairway par 4, but again you couldn't see the difference between the fairway or the semi split mid part.

Then the worst hole on the course 18th. Not one to make toy excited about the next day's golf...

So overall, average layout with some really nice holes thrown in....poor condition bunkers, overgrown fairways and bobbly greens

March 24, 2022
3 / 10
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Ivan

Played the PGA this morning, have to say very disappointing. The course routing is quite good and I have played it a few times before. The condition today was very poor, the greens were slow and had two or three strains of grass growing which need to be addressed. The bunker had not been raked and were in poor condition. The fairways were covered in weeds and not cut at all.

Finally they have shortened the 18 to make it a Micky mouse hole. Overall a poor golfing experience.

If you are playing the Brabazon I would strongly recommend you play one of the local member courses all of which are better than the PGA .

August 05, 2021
3 / 10
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Nicholas Kjelgaard

Played here yesterday and while it did not help because of the rain I am not sure I would have enjoyed it much in any condition. On top of this we were playing as a 3 ball and were paired up with someone. I don't like this at the best of times, I wouldn't go to a resturant and expect to be sat with strangers so why do it on a golf course, but with the world as it is right now I don't think this is acceptable.

In respect of the course I did like holes 2, 3 and 4 but that was it really and while the greens where in good condition, the bunkers all had weeds and grass growing in them and the tees were a mess. We also had holes where the tees were really far forward, on the 6th we had tees so far forward we were playing a 397 yard par 5 which I hit driver the pitching wedge to.

The course is very samey, a lot of people have mentioned that and it is quite forgettable and for the price we payed, £80, it is just not in anyway value for money.

September 24, 2020
3 / 10
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Carl

Ok course. You don't go to the Belfry to play here.

January 28, 2020
4 / 10
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Mark White
February 29, 2020

The first time I played the Belfry Brabazon course the Derby course was still in existence. The Derby course was one of the 10 worst courses I have ever played so I was happy to see it go. Obviously that was a long time ago so when I returned more recently I did not give it a glance even though I had time to play it.

But I am always intrigued by a second course alongside a more famous course such as at Woodhall Spa....but per your review I likely would not play it. Care to elaborate on why it is merely "ok?"

Mark White
February 29, 2020

Sorry, meant to say that I would not step foot on the Derby again but am intrigued by the National.....

Ben Swanton

The PGA National is the only PGA branded course in England and was built to represent more of an ‘inland links’ style appearance. It is set up to play hard and fast off the fairways, with quick undulating greens and is protected by some absolutely brutal and well-placed bunkers. You sense relatively quickly as you play away from the clubhouse and hotel that this is a very different course to the Brabazon – less established and more open to the environment – and yet the two courses complement each other well.

Similarly to the Brabazon, the front 9 on the PGA National has water featuring prominently on 3 of the first 4 holes, and whilst we played the course relatively aggressively (with not a huge amount of luck or wisdom for that matter), it is set up for you to really play strategic golf and not ‘YouTube golf’. A classic example of this is the 4th Hole – 360 yard par 4 - which has a lake that you need to fly over with your tee shot before then another lake beginning in front of the green. There is the smallest slither of fairway running alongside the second lake (easily reachable with driver off the tee as two of our fourball demonstrated; the other two of us lost our tee shots left in the scrub!) for the most accurate and confident of drivers, but clearly the play on this hole is a long iron / hybrid, followed by wedge / 9 iron in.

My only criticism of the PGA National course would be that once you get through the first 4 holes, there is very little to remember in terms of statement holes. For me there were only a couple that stood out: firstly the risk / reward par 4 14th hole that is a 90 degree dog leg right and with a good drive you can reach the green; and then finally the 18th hole which is a par 4 doing to the right, with a huge tree on the right side of the fairway pushing your tee shot left into two strategically placed bunkers. Aside from these two, the holes were challenging but a little non-descript.

May 15, 2017
6 / 10
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Alex Hayes
Played the National as part of a charity shotgun start. The Belfry is a fantastic complex for an event such as this, with prestige, ample drinking, eating and conference facilities, and a good pro shop. The course was in decent condition, with lush fairways and greens, and none of the bunker problems described in other reviews. However, I didn't love the course and if anything found it far easier and less challenging than I had anticipated. Although I played it as my 6th hole, the first was actually my favourite hole, with an elevated tee shot into an interesting green surrounded by bunkers.
July 11, 2015
6 / 10
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Alistair Wilson
Played the PGA National yesterday in a fourball during a sunny, but cold November day. I agree with a lot of the comments that have been posted about this course. It is a course that thinks it is better than it actually is and touts itself as a great course because Belfry (PGA National) Golf Course - Photo by reviewerof the name. I did enjoy the course itself, it was well kept , the greens were fast, the tee boxes in reasonable condition and the fairways cut quite tight for this time of year. That said, as with this time of year, the winter schedule was in place and a lot of tees were moved forward and the fairways and greens randomly worked on which were either spiked, sanded or both which often made them inconsistent hole to hole. The bunkers were large and steeply banked (both greenside and fairway) which in my opinion was the only feature of this course. The rough was troublesome in places but was more of a 'look at me' statement than anything! If you took the bunkers out of it, this is a very ordinary parkland course. Is it worth £80 a round in the summertime? A resounding NO. Even £45/round in the winter is not value for money. Unfortunately they are using the name that hosts their more attactive appealling sibling to jack up the price.
November 08, 2013
4 / 10
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malcolm roberts
"The National" is a very pretentious title for a truly forgetable golf course. In fairly decent condition, tees, greens and bunkers but most holes are very "samey" and barely memorable. An obvious attempt to create an inland links which has failed badly.
October 15, 2012
2 / 10
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