Woodhall Spa Golf Club Hotchkin Course Review

The beautifully renovated Hotchkin course is heathland golf at its finest, with heather and its famous bunkers placing a real premium on accuracy

Woodhall Spa Hotchkin Course
The 3rd hole (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The beautifully renovated Hotchkin course is heathland golf at its finest, with heather and its famous bunkers placing a real premium on accuracy

Woodhall Spa Golf Club Hotchkin Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 18

Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 20 2017/18 - 22 2015/16 - 18 2013/14 - 18 2011/12 - 19 2009/10 - 18

Summer Green Fees

Round: £110-£125; Day: £165-£188

Visitor Times: Every day, subject to availability

Medal Tee: Par 72 – 6,495 Yards

Website: www.woodhallspagolf.com

Changes since previous ranking

The renovation programme overseen by Tom Doak came to an end at the beginning of 2019 with significant changes to the first five holes.

Woodhall Spa Hotchkin Course

The renovated 5th hole from the air (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Since then, there have been numerous small changes such as new tees and the removal of gorse, trees and scrub. This is all part of a 25-year plan for the course.

Woodhall Spa Golf Club Hotchkin Course Review

Among our inland courses, only Sunningdale Old and New eclipse this respected heathland layout in the Lincolnshire spa town, where the well-received Tom Doak renovation project has come to an end since our last rankings.

As with many heathland courses, the vision has been to restore much of the original heathland character, with trees, shrubs and gorse removed where appropriate, bunkers returned to their original, more natural style and other long-lost ones re-introduced.

Woodhall Spa Hotchkin Course

Tom Doak's work has restored much of the heathland character (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Related: Top 100 golf courses UK and Ireland

The bunkers are, of course, what this fine course is most famed for. They are as testing as on any inland course within these shores, with perhaps only Ganton coming close.

But the course is about so much more than just its bunkers, hence its lofty status in our rankings.

Big name designers

The club dates back to 1891, with Messrs Vardon, Taylor, Colt and Hotchkin involved in its evolution over the early part of the 20th century.

Many holes play over relatively open heathland, while others, especially on the back nine, venture in among the trees a little more.

Woodhall Spa Hotchkin Course

You will have to stay out of the sand to score well (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are doglegs, heather and pines at nearly every turn, but the real key to scoring is still perhaps to steer well clear of the deepest bunkers, nowhere more so than on the modest par-3 5th where first-time visitors have the slight mental advantage of not knowing just how crucial it is to hit the target.

There are many, many good holes, but the long par-3 8th to an elevated green sets up particularly magnificently from the tee.

Woodhall Spa Hotchkin Course

The excellent long par-3 8th (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There’s a great selection of holes to negotiate around and just after the turn including a very strong run between the 9th and 14th, with the 11th one of the finest and most attractive heathland holes anywhere.

The Hotchkin is a classic, heathland layout where the premium really is on accuracy.

Yes, it may be a little off the beaten track some way east of the A1, but those who make the effort will not be disappointed, even more so since Doak’s excellent renovation work was completed.

Assessor Feedback

Woodhall is famed for its bunkering, which integrates with both fairway and heather. Bunkers are well placed throughout and their variety of shapes and sizes means you are actually fortunate if you find a normal stance in the sand.

Due to the position of the fairway bunkers, a great deal of thought is required off the tee. This is not a course where you can smash driver on every hole.

Such changes! But still an exacting test of golf.

GM Verdict

The beautifully renovated Hotchkin course is heathland golf at its finest, with heather and its famous bunkers placing a real premium on accuracy.

 

Jeremy Ellwood
Jeremy Ellwood

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...