Grade A Architecture - 18th hole, Brabazon Course
There are times when a golf hole can rise exponentially not just simply because of the strategic qualities it provides but because significant history has been played on its canvass during key events.
That is the case with the 18th hole on the Brabazon Course at The Belfry Hotel & Resort.
The fanfare commenced with the 1985 Ryder Cup Matches. After battling the American squad to a nail biting ending two years earlier in Florida, a determined European team carried the day in a back and forth tussle. The final margin coming when Scotsman Sam Torrance sunk a 22-foot putt at the 18th to win a 1-up match against US Open champion Andy North and therefore provide the points to seal the first European win since the expansion of the squad was carried out in 1979 and the first time the USA had lost the Cup in 28 years.
Four years later the magic returned - this time with Irishman Christy O’Connor stiffing a 2-iron 2nd shot from 200+ yards to the 18th for an incredible turn of events in defeating Fred Couples in a critical final day singles match. After watching O’Connor hit the shot of his life Couples failed to hit the green with nothing more than 9-iron approach and handed the hole away when being unable to get down in two strokes for a par.
Just minutes after that match Spaniard Jose Maria Canizares holed a short putt for par at the 18th to dispatch Ken Green and assure team Europe would retain the Cup.
The concluding hole on the Brabazon Course is fiercely protected by water all the way down the left side of the drive zone. Under pressure it doesn’t take much for a pulled shot to find a watery grave. There are bunkers down the right side and although the fairway does provide more than enough width the specter of playing such a testing long par-4 with much is on the line can cause palpitations and a nervous twitch for even the most seasoned professional.
“The 18th hole on The Brabazon is a fantastic Risk and Reward golf hole with a sweeping left hand dog leg which offers a very difficult layout to shape your golf shot,” said Director of Golf Courses Angus MacLeod. “When you arrive onto the teebox, all you can see is a huge stretch of water and a large bunker on a straight line, no fairways are visible so you have to trust your line. Once you hit the fairway and the walk to your shot the reality hits you with one of the most recognisable views in golf – the hotel’s Manor House. That itself can be intimidating as you can feel the history.”
Those who can play their tee shot down the left side will benefit from a shorter approach and a better angle into the green. Even after reaching the fairway it takes a superbly judged approach to find the correct location of the flagstick. The putting surface has three distinct tiers and failure to get to the right location can easily induce a three putt or worse.
“The green is one of the largest I have experienced, so you can have 4 clubs lengths difference to sections from front to back,” said MacLeod. “The drive is difficult, the second shot is daunting and once you do hit the green you may well have a very long putt.”
A final hole should be one that brings to the forefront the wherewithal of a player to coral the demons that wander through one’s ear lobes and summon a resolve to rise above it all and deliver. The 18th on the Brabazon Course gives nothing away - you’ve got to earn it.
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