Situated a couple of miles from Grantham, Belton woods Lakes and Woodside courses were constructed in the late 1980's. Since then they have changed hands a couple of times and the courses have been reconfigured.
The Lakes Course measures 6781 yards and the Woodside course, 6623 yards and, at 613 yards, it boasts the third longest par 5 in the UK. The layout of both of these courses is excellent, but they are constructed on clay based terrain which Belton Woods claims to be a problem. The Woodside follows a path around the outside of the complex, while the Lakes course occupies the centre. The former, although rated lower by the owners, is the better designed course and the most challenging. The difficulty of the Lakes course depends largely upon the fact that several of the greens are almost immediately beyond a stretch of water and a well judged shot is needed to clear the water, but not overshoot the green.
A look at the Belton woods advertising on the web site, shows that the complex has the full range of trolleys, buggies etc. Certainly this is the case in summer, but what the site does not reveal is that trolleys are often banned before the end of October and are often not permitted again until early April or later. Some members tell me that the situation has now improved and that some members are permitted to use pull-carts during the winter months.
In summer, Belton is a nice place to play golf. The clear perception is that all management effort is concentrated on this lucrative period and the greens are almost always in good condition. The con here is that hotel visitors are treated as gold standard and this is allowed to interfere with the amenity value for members. However, in recent years some of the fairways have been poor and there are frequent occasions when bunkers are short of sand and not properly maintained. Moreover, although there is a programme of work to improve matters, the yellow tees in particular are extremely rough and singularly uninviting.
With green fees for the Lakes course in excess of £40 at weekends and £35 during the week, the Woodside course is a far better deal and unlikely to be as crowded, a big problem when you have hotel family visitors on a course where there is little regulation by course marshals. The green fees quoted are old prices (unlike the majority of golf clubs, the hotel does not publish its prices and visitors must call for a quote. They like to get you on the telephone to get the opportunity to use a little marketing.)
A major drawback for golfers is the lack of support facilities dedicated to the golf side of the operation. Golf changing rooms are small, with only 4 showers and 1 WC for members and visitors alike, but of greater concern is pre and post-play catering. The 'Spikes' bar is the single facility, serving golfers, leisure club users and anyone else who cares to turn up. The bar/restaurant is small, food is very expensive and not of a consistently high standard. Moreover, when children are on school holidays, 'Spikes' is full to overflowing with families and a wait for food can be depressing. All this has helped the restaurant at Belton Garden Centre just down the road where good value meals are always available. Go there for better food, better service and better value.
If you visit Belton Woods, do so in the period May to September. From October to April the weather has a profound effect on playing conditions. Fairways can be very wet, bunkers flooded, greens either very bumpy after heavy tyning or out of use in favour of temporary greens comprising a badly prepared section of fairway. In addition, pull trolleys are often banned and electric trolleys are almost certainly so. Buggies are never available during this period. Belton Woods management has assured us that there is an ongoing programme of works to improve facilities in all areas of both courses.
In conclusion, the Belton Woods golf courses are challenging and could be among the best in the area. The Woodside course in particular is worth a visit during the summer months. In winter there are hundreds of better choices available.
In early November 2007, Nikki Chantry, Belton Woods professional contacted us to complain that this report was being quoted as a reason for not taking lessons with her. This report makes no criticism of the Belton Woods professional staff who are first class. As far as lessons are concerned, the advice remains constant 'find a fully qualified PGA professional with whom you establish a good rapport and stick with them'
Golf may be played on a Sunday, not being a game within the view of the law, but being a form of moral effort.
Stephen Leacock - 1869 - 1944