Course Overview. The Brabazon Course at The Belfry is no stranger to the European Tour with a number of events having been hosted here since the turn of the century, however 2008 was the last time that we saw the Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas design in competitive action at this level. 4 Ryder Cups have also been played around these parts, the most recent of which was team Europe’s win in 2002.
Parkland in style with water in play on half of the holes, the track measures 7,233 yards for its par of 72. 12 par-4s instead of the more typical 10 means that there are just 3 each of the par-3s and par-5s, however scoring on those longer holes at 538, 566 and 564 yards for the 3rd, 15th and 17th respectively is an important part of compiling a competitive score here.
Historically the fairways here have been narrow and the rough lush, however the Bent/Poa greens are of excellent quality giving a little respite to those who are less adept on and around the putting surfaces.
Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key statistics for this week’s event that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at the Belfry, which was used for the B&H International Open and the British Masters between 2000 and 2008: Current Form | Course Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Course Winners. 2008: Gonzalo Fdez Castano, -12; 2007: Lee Westwood, -15; 2006: Johan Edfors, -11; 2003: Paul Casey, -11; 2002: Angel Cabrera, -10; 2001, Henrik Stenson, -13; 2000: Jose Maria Olazabal, -13.
For a summary of winners’ odds on the European Tour for the past 10 years click here.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the area is here. A slightly calmer week wind-wise is expected in the Midlands with 10-15mph the order of the day. Temperatures will be a pleasant 60 Fahrenheit in the afternoons, give or take, with sunny spells increasing in their frequency after a drizzly start to the 4 days. Thunderstorms and heavy rain may well have given the course another dousing on Tuesday before the event starts and I’d expect it to play relatively long and relatively soft this week.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors.
Skill stats are a little patchy historically for The Belfry, however what we have available gives us a little more insight into the type of player suited to this test:
- 2008, Gonzalo Fdez Castano (-12). 283 yards (14th), 60% fairways (31st), 65.3% greens in regulation (36th), 68% scrambling (4th), 1.68 putts per GIR (7th).
- 2007, Lee Westwood (-15). 284 yards (18th), 78.3% fairways (3rd), 80.6% greens in regulation (2nd), 78.6% scrambling (1st), 1.72 putts per GIR (11th).
- 2006, Johan Edfors (-11). 290 yards (10th), 45% fairways (54th), 73.6% greens in regulation (17h), 52.6% scrambling (45th), 1.70 putts per GIR (8th).
- 2003, Paul Casey (-11). 297 yards (9th), 65% fairways (6th), 76.4% greens in regulation (1st).
- 2000, Jose Maria Olazabal (-13). 272 yards (28th), 71.7% fairways (3rd), 81.9% greens in regulation (1st), 46.2% scrambling (31st), 1.71 putts per GIR (10th).
Looking at the list of players who’ve succeeded around the Brabazon course here at The Belfry, it’s fair to say that quality Total Driving and Ball-Striking has generally been the key to success. The rough is typically penal around here so maximising the number of long, straight drives and greens hit in regulation is a better route to success than relying on a short game and hot putter to get the job done.
The greens here are generally easy to read and favour those players who might otherwise struggle on the putting surfaces and again that’s reinforced when you see a list of names including Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Henrik Stenson all having won here.
Incoming Form: Most recent Belfry winner Gonzalo Fernandez Castano arrived here off the back of a pair of top-25 finishes, with his most recent top-10 finish being at Celtic Manor a few weeks beforehand. Lee Westwood was clearly rounding into some form the year before with three top-10 finishes in succession prior to his win, whereas Johan Edfors was already a season winner when successful here in 2006.
Further back in the days of the B&H International Open, both Paul Casey and Angel Cabrera arrived here fresh off the back of a top-10 finish on their previous start. Henrik Stenson and Jose Maria Olazabal had also shown flashes of form on their previous start to offer punters a little encouragement:
- 2008: Gonzalo Fdez Castano: MC/MC/MC/9/MC/48/59/MC/71/49/21/25
- 2007: Lee Westwood: 21/12/52/36/33/19/35/22/32/9/6/6
- 2006: Johan Edfors: 13/37/1/MC/49/56/45
- 2003: Paul Casey: MC/9/4/1/18/33/6
- 2002: Angel Cabrera: 33/5/21/9/36/9/8
- 2001, Henrik Stenson: 66/64/MC/67/32/40/MC/MC/27
- 2000: Jose Maria Olazabal: MC/8/17/24/MC/37/MC/33
Aside from Angel Cabrera, our course winners here had patchy history at best at The Belfry prior to lifting their respective trophies:
- 2008: Gonzalo Fdez Castano: 14/57
- 2007: Lee Westwood: 54/57/MC/27/MC
- 2006: Johan Edfors: Debut
- 2003: Paul Casey: 12/MC
- 2002: Angel Cabrera: 9/2
- 2001, Henrik Stenson: Debut
- 2000: Jose Maria Olazabal: Debut
Similar to how these last few weeks have set up on the European Tour’s UK Swing, we’re presented with an excellent track with some older, historical data and a field that’s largely playing here for the first time.
For me, the Belfry is a good test of golf and scoring isn’t likely to get out of control despite a marked drop in wind speeds compared to last week at Celtic Manor. A soft course with historically straightforward greens of excellent quality will encourage birdies though to those who can keep the ball in play and overall I’d favour those who can gain most of their strokes from tee-to-green as opposed to on the putting surfaces themselves.
The layout isn’t the longest on paper, however with only 3 par-3s and 3 par-5s and with less run on the fairways due to the wet conditions leading up to the event, those players who can maximise length and accuracy should have an advantage if their irons are dialled in.
My selections are as follows: