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The Belfry Gets Off With a Bang This Winter

1.41am 4th November 2011 - Travel

Golfers can get off with a bang this winter when they visit The Belfry, with the rare opportunity of playing the four-time Ryder Cup course The Brabazon on a shotgun start, guaranteeing they finish their rounds in daylight.

Every morning at 10.30 am until the end of February, The Brabazon starter will fire the gun to signal the start of play on a course still in first-class condition thanks to a dedicated team of 34 green keepers.

“As well as guaranteeing a daylight finish, this innovation gives players the ultimate golfing experience,” said Gary Silcock, Director of Golf at The Belfry. “Extended preparation time for green keepers and the added option of holding back the tee time if the weather is poor ensures that golfers will get the very best of conditions.”

He added: “The 10.30 shotgun start also gives visitors the chance to get here in plenty of time and enjoy the facilities at the PGA National Golf Academy or even a ‘golfers grill’ and coffee before teeing off.”

During the darker months, the shotgun start can get 104 golfers around the course, but a rolling start would only be 72 golfers (tee times from 0800 to 1100). But any early morning frost delays would reduce this obviously, so that number could go down to 50 or less.

The shotgun has the additional advantage of avoiding freezing cold starts at 08:00!

Throughout the shotgun start period, golfers can enjoy The Brabazon for only £75, as well as winter coaching deals at the PGA National Golf Academy, where visitors can take advantage of a ‘six for five’ deal on lessons.

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  • Brian Donnelly

    I don’t quite get their maths, how do they manage 104 players on an 18 hole coure with a 10.30 shotgun start? or am I being stupid?

  • Its all about doubling up on certain holes, A lot of golf clubs we work with utilise this shotgun strategy. To have your visitors arrive at simliar times you can also manage your staffing levels in accordance with the business. It also increases incremental spend in the F&B areas if there is a delayed start.

  • An interesting idea, but shotgun starts create as many problems as they solve.

    A good idea from the GK point of view, and, yes, it gives the frost a chance to clear. Very frustrating, though, if the day starts fine and the weather deteriorates!

    As for BD’s question, I think the assumption is that with a shotgun start you will have 18 x 4 on each tee, plus 8 x 4 ready to start on 8 of the tees (longest holes?) when the first group has cleared the landing zone and before the following group has reached the tee. Feed time spent looking for a lost ball into the equation and you have the potential for some long delays!

    Most clubs, I suspect, would experience some difficulty with the arrival of 104 golfers back in the clubhouse more or less simultaneously. Catering? Bar service?? Showers???

    With the benefits of a low horizon at Southerndown ( – golfers play the 18th towards the sea) I estimate that in mid December we can manage a maximum of 98 rounds of golf starting between 8 am and 12.04 pm, leaving 4 hours for completion. However, in addition this is an ideal time to play fewer holes: golfers can tee off as late as 2 pm and still get 9 holes in. Refreshing exercise in winter, even if some way short of the 18-hole ideal.

  • Calum Forbes

    In response to Brian, as Matt and Alan have indicated, 104 golfers is achieved by setting up 26 four-balls.

    This means that 8 tees have two four-ball groups (par-5s and longest par-4s), where one of the groups start a minute or so before the shotgun so they are playing their second shots while the group on the tee are preparing for their shotgun start.

    The Belfry now has 80 Visage-installed GPS buggies so this speeds up play and helps to account for any lost balls.

    And a choice of restaurants include Sam’s Bar & Grill, the French Restaurant, the Atrium Restaurant and a selection of bars so that catering for 104 golfers is no problem!

  • 10.30 is one of the most unpopular start times, time is paramount and golfers like a round before lunch or around lunchtime.If you operated an 8.00 shotgun start and a 12.00 shotgun start you could get a lot of players around but that has lots of potential problems. 10.30 is not maximising your rounds at all, a 2 tee start makes as much sense. Players accept they might only get 9 or 13 in during afternoon. Not many clubs have 30 greenstaff and not many have any more than a pair in on a weekend to switch dew. This sort of thing only works at resort courses.

  • progolf

    Industry statistics actually show that the busiest periods are between 10am and 2pm, the quietest periods being between 8 and 10am and after 2pm. People eat on the course nowadays and eat after they come in irrelevant of the time. The Belfry actually has 2 other courses where you can tee off at 8 am in the morning in the frost and maintains the Brabazon as a 10.30 shotgun start to try and avoid the frost. 8am shotgun start and 12pm??? Do you really think that golfers get around in 3h30 mins on a decent golf course to get them off the course before a 12pm?? Do you know it gets dark at 4pm in the Winter, how will everybody get around in that time?? Most top end courses don’t allow golf in the frost so a two tee start is not really viable in the Winters. This is the best way for me to get golf in and let everybody get around before the dark. I have played in a shotgun with 30 teams in and still finished in under 5 hours on a championship course and this was not The Belfry.

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