Amazing transformation at historic English Ryder Cup resort puts its back on the global golfing map
One of European Golf’s most iconic golf resorts has recently undergone an impressive £26m refurb as it looks to shape its future by building on its past.
The Belfry, home to four Ryder Cups, has been completely overhauled and was unveiled last month, with the refurbishment being described as a “top to toe” operation by the resort’s managing director Lynn Hood.
Hood told English Club Golfer that it was a much-needed exercise and that the work was hugely exciting for everyone connected to the historic Midlands retreat.
“Over a number of years, the customer has been telling us the resort needed investment,” Hood told us. “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.”
New owners came on-board in August last year and immediately set about on organising a massive 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 and that it’s been done in a respectful way, and that’s been good to hear.
“It’s been overdue an investment from the previous ownership and the company that bought it last year, KSL Capital, understood that. They understood the need to invest a significant amount of money to bring it up to modern standards and concepts. 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. The concierge team have been ‘reuniformed’ in traditional golf style with plus fours, knitted jumpers and flat caps. “We now have that quirky golf arrival, which is nice,” she said.
For The Belfry’s director of golf, Ian Knox, the new ‘look’ is a massive improvement and completes the entire package at the Midlands resort.
“The great thing we have now is that we have off-course products that reflect what we have on the golf course,” Knox told us. “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.”
Knox, who has a fine history of working at UK golf resorts and has been at The Belfry for 12 months, said the link the resort has with the Ryder Cup is unique and was the resort’s chief selling point. “That’s the great thing about golf,” he said. “You can’t go and play on centre court at Wimbledon, but you can stand on the tenth here and try and replicate what Seve (Ballesteros) did, or stand on the same spot as Christy O’Connor Jnr on the 18th. When you’re walking through the resort there are nods to moments and history that have been created here. It’s completely unique.”
Knox said the investment has given the resort the impetus to get back onto the world stage from a tournament standpoint - and he’s not ruling out a bid to see the famous Sam Ryder trophy return to the Midlands.
“Well, the Ryder Cup is north of the border this year, in 2018 it’s in Paris, so the first time it can come back is 2022. We have hosted four Ryder Cups… would we look at another one? Of course. There is a lot of infrastructure and lot of things that need to go hand in hand with it. It’s almost like a country bids to host it now.
“What I would say is that I would definitely look to being in the market for a golf tournament of some sorts. Whether that would be for a Ryder Cup, who knows. There are a lot of things you need to jump through to get to that point. We need to create and build for the future and look at what opportunities we’ve got. We are always on the lookout to help promote the resort.”