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 (opens in new tab)
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.
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.
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
Many holes play over relatively open heathland, while others, especially on the back nine, venture in among the trees a little more.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and 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 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.
Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf
Jeremy is currently playing...
Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft
3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft
Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft
Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts
Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)
Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response
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