Belfry at Wishaw, Sutton Coldfield
PUBLISHED: 09:21 17 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:18 20 February 2013
Anyone with a passion for golf will know the Belfy. As the UK headquarters of the PGA and spiritual home of the Ryder Cup, the noble game and The Belfry are inextricably linked, as Warwickshire Life reader Tony Smith, from Rugby, discovers.
You cant play golf and not be aware of the Belfry at Wishaw, Sutton Coldfield. As one of the worlds most famous clubs, my friends and I have always wanted to play there and, being from Rugby, its well within the distance I usually travel.
Although the World Famous Brabazon and PGA courses are most highly revered, as a group with mixed ability we opted to play the Derby course, which of the three is the only one that doesnt require a handicap. Getting there was easy, our group travelled from various locations but from any direction, its central location and proximity to the motorway made the journey easy.
Entering the gates, one instantly knows The Belfry is much more than a golf club. Passing the Bel Air Nightclub and hotel, we followed signs to the golf centre. From the car park it was a short walk to the reception, shadowed by a huge pro shop and a bar which overlooks the stunning lakes and fairways of the pristine Brabazon.
We had arrived well ahead of our tee time we decided to make use of the excellent practice facilities, first visiting the driving range before moving on to the putting green to see how fast they really were. From there we signed in at reception and were directed to our pick up point.
Being such a large site the Derby course required a short journey by minibus, but rather than being seen as an inconvenience the prospect only added to the grandeur of the occasion and raised our excitement even more as we waited for our chauffer to arrive. It also gave us a chance to appreciate the surroundings even more and we revelled in the knowledge that the worlds greatest players had stood there.
We departed right on time with the route passing through parallel to the other courses, giving us an even closer look at the lush green fairways. The driver was really friendly and provided us with score cards and pencils, offered us free tees. Looking out at the 1st hole of the Derby it was more representative of other courses I had played. Some might say that would be disappointing after seeing the Brabazon but I was most relieved to see my first drive wouldnt be watched by the entire clubhouse.
We chose to play the Derby course because it eased the pressure for those of us on higher handicaps and at the level we play, the more expensive courses are quite intimidating, but something we aspire to. Thats not to say the Derby didnt challenge even the best of us. Its parkland design, numerous water hazards and strategically placed bunkers demanded accuracy all the way through and as a par 69 over 6057 yards, there were several long par 4s and only two par 5s which follow each other on the back 9.
We continued on, discovering new challenges, such as the two water hazards on the 16th and 17th that nearly ruined what was for me a very good round. Then, just as we completed the 18th the minibus arrived to take us back to the clubhouse. The sun was just going down and it was the perfect setting to sit outside and have drink as we reflected on the day.
All in all the whole experience was fantastic. Theres nothing better than playing golf with your friends on a nice day in beautiful surroundings. You can have that on any course but you get more at the Belfy. Theres a sense of occasion that you dont get with other clubs. The Derby may get less attention than its more famous brothers, but for me, the Derby course gives those with a higher handicap the perfect opportunity to experience everything the Belfry has to offer.
Next season my friends and I look forward to making a weekend of it with an overnight stay in the hotel on one of their package deals. We might even invite our partners next time.
For more information about The Belfry, telephone 01675 470301 or visit www.thebelfry.co.uk