Michael Edwards travels to the midlands in search of the legendary Belfry Hotel and Resort
Stepping up to the 10th tee, on the legendary Brazabon course at The Belfry, a stone memorial catches the eye. It ramps up the tension. Places the heavy hand of history on your shoulders. Factually, almost bluntly, the stone states that Seve Ballesteros drove to the green in the Hennessy cup of 1978: a shot of supreme skill requiring an exquisite fade to curve its orbit around the trees.
The 311 yards to the pin is a quintessential slice of golfing England: green velvet fairway, lake and mature trees. This hole is beauty and the beast. If golf balls only travelled in straight lines, a drive to the green would be impossible.
Yet, every day many visitors arrive at the Belfry oblivious to golfing history, knowing nothing of fades and draws, nor birdies and eagles. The Belfry Hotel and Resort, stretching across 550 of impeccably landscaped emerald acres of Warwickshire offers something for everyone. There’s a huge wooden stockade of an adventure playground for kids, a vast Spa with a wide range of treatments and an indoor pool, cocktail-making classes and – when Covid permits – the Bel Air nightclub too.
All of this is the remarkable product of a Peter Allis’ 1970s lunch. He sat down for a pie and pint. Then outlined his remarkable vision for what, back then, were merely 15 potato fields.
Even the Brazabon course’s opening match – and it was named after PGA president, Lord Brazabon – featured golfing greats: Seve Ballesteros and Johnny Miller took on Tony Jacklin and Brian Barnes.
Still only in its 40s, The Belfry Hotel, a gallery of golfing greatness, reminds visitors of an epic history that already includes hosting four Ryder Cups. Everywhere there are black-and-white photos celebrating the past: a swarm of groundsmen caring for a green, golfers lost in thought as they read the line of a putt and fairways on misty mornings.
To walk into the hotel’s lobby is to walk into a golfing hall of fame. Lit by the light of a creative chandelier of hundreds of golf clubs, the faces of the cream of European and American golf, frame your arrival.
In a suite overlooking the Brazabon’s ninth green and lake, there is an aura of greatness. Which golfing legends have sat at that dining table and discussed yardages and green speeds with their caddy? Who has sat on that sofa watching the giant screen to view competitors complete their rounds?
Not surprisingly these suites are part of a designated quiet area. Every detail is taken care of to facilitate the perfect round of golf. Six feet wide beds feature a Sealy Royal Crest mattress for deep sleep in a bedroom with its own discrete climate control system. Iron and ironing board are to hand to look one’s best for the obligatory press conferences.
With its farmhouse kitchen feel, elevated by empty wine bottles transformed into chandeliers, the Ryder Grill is sufficiently formal for those wanting dinner out and sufficiently informal for those who have had a tough day’s work on the golf course.
As increasing numbers of professional golfers turn to a plant-based diet, a separate three-course vegan menu is offered. For the main course, there is a choice of risotto, mushroom feuilletine plus aubergine and cauliflower curry. It is not just a matter of a token vegan offering on the main menu for the Ryder Grill.
The main menu will get a nod of approval from golfers’ nutritionists: Castorbridge rib-eye steak marinated lamb cutlets and seared sea bass. They would be less likely to give the thumbs up to sticky toffee banana bread, though there is no doubt that its light fluffy texture would get a Hollywood handshake. Meanwhile, still overlooking the Brazabon, Sam’s Bar lives up to its stars-and-stripes billing with a big-screen sports bar for more casual meals.
The Belfry Hotel and Resort is not just a venue for experienced golfers. Although a handicap of 24 or less is required for the Brazabon and PGA courses, the Derby course is open to all. But if you are determined to raise your game and play the Brazabon, coaching is available at The PGA National Golf Academy. Top Tracer technology provides instant data on distance hit and spin imparted. There is no better place to hone your game.
Tell Me More About The Belfry Hotel And Resort
The Belfry Hotel, Lichfield Road, The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, B76 9PR
T: 01675 238600 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Suites from £256