Played by NCG: Beau Desert
Reason for a Beau Desert Golf Club review
I was arranging to meet a client from the south coast, and needed somewhere half way to our base in Leeds for us to play golf. I have played a lot of golf in the Midlands in the last few years in the name of research for our ranking list of England’s Top 100 Golf Courses, and have been staggered at the quality of relatively unheralded golf on offer. There are a couple of trophy venues that tend to grab the Midlands limelight – mainly the Brabazon at the Belfry and Little Aston – but there are so many more.
Where is Beau Desert?
Beau Desert is situated just outside Hazelslade, a small Staffordshire village just off the A460 which runs between Cannock to the South and Rugeley to the North.
What to expect
A Herbert Fowler original, Beau Desert is littered with his design twirls. From the front tees particularly there are many angles to contend with, perhaps most prominently at the double dogleg 12th (above), which swings right then left.
You will also find myriad green complexes with interesting contours, shapes and ‘goodness me’ sizes. The 1st green alone must be 60 feet long on a hole measuring a little more 300 yards.
My favourite feature though were the many grassy swales, almost grass bunkers, that appear liberally around the course – most significantly at the driveable par-4 9th where a moat-like half moon collects balls bouncing through the green presenting a conundrum of a downhill chip played from an unusual lie.
For me this is the signature hole. It’s just 260 yards but defended by smart bunkering and subtle design. It is ever thus at Beau.
The dogleg left 5th (above) is also very ‘Just Beau’ if you will, a yardage well over 400 makes you think you need driver, but a big angle and fairway that helps you round means you might be wiser to take less club and let the ground do the work.
From the fairway you are left with a short iron, with a big elevation change up to a small, two tier, green. It is a complex little puzzle, where bully boy tactics might lead to your just ‘deserts’, representing succinctly the site as a whole.
My best bit
It is a short walk, and I don’t mean this sarcastically. It is under 6,500 yards from the very back tees. The greens and tees are still broadly near each other so there are no enormous walks a twixt and a tween. Pace of play is therefore brisk, but the course remains more than enough of a challenge for all.
Just how golf should be.
What to look for
Beau Desert means beautiful wilderness, odd for a course carved out of cultivated estate land and for which quite a large amount of earth was moved, quite a unique feature of a course more than a century old.
The land was owned by the Marquess of Anglesey, and he was able to call on significant numbers of local labourers to create the raised plateau greens that remain a feature – you can still see evidence of this human endeavour in the large pits on the 1st, 3rd, 8th (above), 9th.
It is not just modern courses that shape the land to suit.
When I go back
I will take some shoes. Beau Desert remains a traditional club and as such does not allow golf shoes in the bar – a rule of which our entire group of bepimpled players fell foul…