Shaping its future by building on its past. That’s the concept behind the complete overhaul of The Belfry, one of the most iconic golf venues in European golf.
“When you hear about the Belfry, you immediately think of the Ryder Cup,” said Bernard Gallacher recently. The historic Midlands retreat, though, which has been the home of four Ryder Cups, was in need of some love last year it unveiled an impressive ‘new look’ following a massive £26m head-to-toe renovation.
It has certainly paid off, as the resort was named ‘England’s Best Golf Hotel’ at the inaugural World Golf Awards.
The upgrade, according to the resort’s managing director Lynn Hood, was an essential exercise in order to keep the quality of the hotel facilities in line with the golf courses.
“Over a number of years, the customer has been telling us the resort needed investment,” Hood says. “The golf courses have remained superb, so they have retained their reputation as being amongst the finest in the world - but the resort had been lagging behind.”
"It’s been overdue an investment the job has been done exceptionally” - Lynn Hood
New owners came on-board in August 2013 and immediately set their sights on a comprehensive upgrade. Interior designers and architects who specialised in golf resorts were drafted in - and the result of their work is exceptional.
According to Hood, it’s been an eye-opener to all. “Feedback from our visitors has been instant,” she said. “It’s been hugely positive with people commenting on the comfort and décor of the resort. It’s been overdue an investment the job has been done exceptionally.”
The £26m has gone a long way. Every single room has been extensively refurbished, with luxurious new meeting and event rooms, a brand new Brabazon Bar, Ryder Grill, Sam’s Clubhouse and stunning new lounges and reception areas. There’s a new front door to the building, with painstaking efforts to find the original brick used to build the famous Manor House. Eventually, the brick was found from a reclaimed site in London.
For The Belfry’s director of golf, Ian Knox, the new ‘look’ is a massive improvement and completes the entire package. “The great thing we have now is that we have off-course products that reflect what we have on the golf course,” Knox says. “The Belfry is the only place that has had four Ryder Cups so the history here is unique. We are creating a Ryder Cup Heritage area, where we’ll have all the history of the Ryder Cup, including its association with The Belfry.
"Working with the PGA, who of course have their HQ on our property, we’ll be looking at some of the products they’ve got to create a unique display. We also plan to display some of Harold Riley’s golfing artwork for visitors to enjoy.”
Next year Scotland is in line to host four European Tour events, yet England is currently scheduling to host just one, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Having undergone an incredible transformation, could The Belfry try and return to the big stage and bring tournament golf back to the Midlands?
“What I would say is that I would definitely look to being in the market for a golf tournament of some sorts,” added Knox. “We need to create and build for the future and look at what opportunities we’ve got. We are always on the look-out to help promote the resort.”
The three courses available to play at The Belfry
The Brabazon :: 7,160 yards :: Par 72
Host to four Ryder Cups, home of the iconic risk and reward tenth hole (pictured below), where Seve Ballesteros drove the green in the 1985 Ryder Cup.
PGA National :: 7,053 yards :: Par 72
An excellent inland links-type layout by famed architect Dave Thomas and the former home of the European Seniors Open.
The Derby :: 6,057 yards :: Par 70
This Dave Thomas and Peter Alliss design is a picturesque parkland that’s playable by all and is always in pristine condition.