The GM Forum has its say on this week's British Masters venue, and it's fair to say that it divides opinion...
Are You A Fan Of The Belfry?
This week we see the European Tour return to The Belfry for Danny Willett’s hosting of the British Masters.
Golfers have been frequenting the Midlands resort, that has hosted four Ryder Cups and numerous tour events, for decades and so we asked our forum members how they rated it.
And it’s fair to say that it continues to divide opinion…
Are You A Fan Of The Belfry?
It’s a good parkland stadium course, condition is always spot on but in my opinion it lives off the Ryder Cup and way overpriced for the Brabazon but it does have a couple of very good holes. The PGA course there is decent the less said about the Derby the better. It’s the same as the likes of Celtic Manor, Hanbury Manor, Forest of Arden, Oxfordshire etc - just lack character.
Played the Brabazon twice in a fortnight 20 years ago and was glad that I hadn't paid the green fee (corporate events). OK, there are a couple of ‘interesting’ holes but I never found the need to rush back.
It’s a very nice set up, you get treated very well, no matter the course you are playing. I’ve played the Derby and PGA National, the PGA is a good test for your average club golfer, very well maintained and a cut above the standards of courses locally. The Derby seems to get slated - it’s cheap and again, well maintained but its quite forgettable with regards to feature holes etc. Both are available on 2fore1 so respectable green fees going that way.
The Brabazon is currently £180 for a solo tee time - absolute joke levels of money that I wouldnt pay. Ill play it as part of a golf weekend one day maybe!
It’s a decent parkland course and they're keeping it in great condition these days. It's not remarkable and it's not top 100. But it has a proud Ryder Cup history, worth the visit for that alone. The other two courses didn't interest me at all. But, I do hear of some plans they have..
Played the Brabazon in 1991 when the reputation was riding high on the back of the Ryder Cup. Corporate invitation - was so glad it cost me nowt. About 40 of us from my club went to Forest of Arden in 2010 - lunch, golf (2nd course), evening meal, overnight, breakfast, golf (top course) - £99 a head. I think it might be £139 now - well worth it. Full use of swimming pool etc. - would happily go there again. I have no desire to return to The Belfry.
I have never liked it although I have played it a few times to test if I was being unfair. My mind was not changed. The land was never likely to provide a great course, and the land moving used to make it less featureless look artificial and contrived. Many of the holes are still forgettable and some of the more memorable holes are memorable for the wrong reasons. The 10th is a contrived feature hole and the 18th is a good hole for the Ryder Cup but a terrible hole for the waves of corporate outings. For me, too much of the golf there is a slogging match along anonymous fairways, too little character and no local quirk on a featureless canvas.
The Ryder Cups there have been great, but a Ryder Cup on the M42 would be great too. The Belfry's Ryder Cup history had an inauspicious start, not being ready for the 1981 event which had to be moved to Walton Heath, but then it gained legendary status after the 1985 win. I think too many people conflate the memory of the event with positive reactions to the course.
Have only played the Brabazon and paid a reduced rate and recall it being a 5h+ round. Happy to tick off the list golf wise but a very good setup for a night away and food/drinks. Expect to pay a lot for F&B.
Superb condition, good welcome. Quite enjoyed the course, played in middle of summer time.
Played and stayed there. Good venue, hotels nice, gym/sauna's good, food’s good and the courses are fine, Brabazon the best, then the PGA, the Derby is like a £30 course but, hey, three courses what more do you want? Practice facilities are decent and the mini golf course based upon famous holes is fun after a few.
Only been there once on an overnight deal. Played the Brabazon and the Derby. I enjoyed it and would happily go back and play there again. Derby was a cheap simple filler and the Brabazon was fun, and in very good condition. However, not sure I would want to do the overnight thing again. The accommodation and food were ok, and the drinks were stupid expensive.
Until covid hit I'd been a member for seven years. The Brabazon is always a joy to play but plays dreadful and long in the winter. The other two courses were always decent too. Condition for the most part was very good due to an army of greenkeepers. But then the changes started happening.
The Belfry has been and always will be about the money. It's just now they've pushed it too far.
I visited the range last week. They've just fitted Top Tracer to the range. A basket of 90 balls was £4.50 is now £9.50 for 80. I couldn't use the putting green and short-game area as they are ‘saving it’ for the pros in a few weeks.
I've been a few times to the Belfry, playing the Brabazon every time. Only have positive things to say about the conditioning of the course - was always in fantastic condition. Yes a fair few of the holes are not that memorable, but that can be said of a number of similar parkland courses. Wouldn't ever turn down a game there.
The Brabazon is always presented fantastically. The greens are absolutely superb.
I took a referees' course there some years ago. When walking the course we were shown real examples of 'How not to mark a course'. The parts we walked were in pretty good condition though.
It’s a cracking course, always in good nick, which is often underrated by people who seem to expect every hole to be outstanding.
I played there many years ago after doing a test on hybrids for a rival magazine. We played the Brabazon the next day and I was knackered but thought it was very good and in super condition. I didn’t do it justice but made par on the 18th so went home happy.
£5.80 for a cappuccino is all you need to know!!
Had two stays there, both in late March. The courses were pretty decent for that time of the year but the Brabazon was so slow. Food and drink there are so overpriced though. Better off taking a taxi into Sutton Coldfield for a quiet night or Brum for a more lively time.
Green Bay Hacker
I played the PGA National and the Derby last year. The PGA is a tough course and I enjoyed it. The Derby is not great. You get treated very well, I’m not sure if I was looking in the wrong place or whatever but there wasn’t much Ryder Cup paraphernalia there. On reflection, based on how disappointed I was in the Derby I would pay the extra money and play the Brabazon and PGA if I was to do another overnight stay.
Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on skysports.com. He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.
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