Bowood - Wiltshire - England

Bowood Hotel,
Spa and Golf Resort,
Derry Hill,
Calne,
Wilts,
SN11 9PQ,
England


  • +44 (0) 1249 822228

  • Ben Danielsen

  • Dave Thomas

  • Paul McLean


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Bowood G&CC

Few approaches to golf clubs are as grand as the entrance to the 2,000-acre Bowood Estate. The Golden Gates are huge and imposing, the approach road passes through grounds landscaped by “Capability” Brown. This is quite something – apparently the Black Prince used to hunt here – but what is the course like?

Well, it’s essentially laid out on farmland. But don’t be put off, Dave Thomas designed Bowood, and Thomas was well-versed at subtly transforming farmland into great golf courses – you may remember he co-designed the Brabazon course at the Belfry?

Bowood opened for play in 1992, to much acclaim. Despite its agrarian beginning, this is a solid golf course, making best use of the estate’s mature woodland. There’s a fair amount of water, but rarely does it come into play because the fairways are generous. On the other hand, Bowood’s length is extraordinary – measuring a monstrous 7,300 yards from the back tees. But Thomas thought of everything, he created numerous teeing areas to cater for golfers of all standards.

There is a lovely feeling of peace and spaciousness at Bowood – it’s definitely a course of which the members are rightly proud. It is usually kept in immaculate condition and often plays every inch of its length. The pick of the holes: The 3rd, "Cascades" – a short uphill par three with the green guarded by a stream and the 17th, "Queenwood" – a huge doglegged par four (stroke index 1) with an inviting downhill tee-shot.

Bowood is a challenging West Country course, one of the best in Wiltshire. Play Bowood alongside the Manor House at Castle Combe – but make sure you take your best driving game along with you.

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Reviews for Bowood

Av. Reviewers Score:
Description: Few approaches to golf clubs are as grand as the entrance to the 2,000-acre Bowood Estate and there is a lovely feeling of peace and spaciousness here at Bowood Golf & Country Club. Rating: 4.4166666666667 out of 6

Bowood is a modern style golf course and very different to the traditional Wiltshire courses. The drive to the carpark is impressive as are the clubhouse and facilities. The course generally seems to be in pretty good condition, however I have played during the winter/wet periods when the course does become very wet. My over-riding impression of Bowood is that fairways are fairly generous but shots to the green are all about carry (often over bunkers at the front of the green) which makes the course play reasonably long. My favourite hole (especially the tee shot) is the downhill dog-leg par 4 2nd, and a bit like another reviewer I'm not sure the reversing of the nines has done the course any favours as the more enjoyable holes seem to be on the front nine. Par 3's aren't fantastic and I don't really think the course design matches the splendour of the drive-in and clubhouse. Having said that it probably is the best course in Wiltshire, which sadly is a reflection of where Wiltshire courses sit in the rankings. Just edges into a 4 ball rating for me based on its summer conditioning.

September 06, 2017


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Driving two hours to play a modern parkland resort course would never be top of my list when choosing a day's golf so with my expectation levels kept in check I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with this typically big and bold Dave Thomas design. Bowood - Photo by reviewer There's an unexpected mature feel throughout the routing with numerous impressive tree specimens and historical water features (previously introduced by Capability Brown) often coming into play. My biggest disappointment was undoubtedly the collection of par 3's which really do need spicing up a bit as none of them are particularly memorable, however the longer holes offer up some excellent golf on an undulating and interesting parcel of land.

Following a solid opening par-5 we get our first taste of the rolling terrain at the 2nd, an attractive downhiller which skirts woodland as it doglegs to the right. The 6th is a memorable par-5, again shaped around trees, then past an old water feature to an attractively situated green and the 7th follows the pattern of well designed doglegs this time turning left with a troublesome bunker at driving distance. All very good.

Bowood - Photo by reviewer

The pick of the back nine would include the back to back par-5's at 12 and 13 which are both interesting holes, the 16th, a cleverly bunkered par-4 and the picturesque 17th with its narrowing tree lined approach to a tricky green. A few hikes from green to tee would be a minor gripe and switching the two nines around some years ago means that the original 18th, quite an exciting hole involving water, has been replaced with the fairly mundane original 9th as the finishing hole.

Bowood definitely rewards and encourages the use of the driver and with no shortage of length and heavy fairway bunkering it provides a tough test for even the most skilled of players.

Brian W

August 19, 2017


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Really nice track, very few holes in view from adjoining holes. Some tricky doglegs on front nine. Very attractive course, wildlife aplenty with deer, hares etc. Well worth a visit and I would like to go back again.

Pity they let people on in collarless in-tucked in shirts and the person who takes the bookings quotes a cheaper price than the person who takes the money when you get there BUT the £30 for a twilight was still WELL worth it

May 24, 2016


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Played here on a corporate day and, much as expected, the novices were easily impressed with the apparent pretty appearance of things whilst the more knowledgeable looked down their noses at the all too artificial look. It was challenging but then golf should ultimately be stimulating more than anything else and Bowood fell well short on this scale. Better than Manor House but, if in the area, play a real course at either High Post or the under the radar Harry Colt gem at Tidworth.
September 16, 2013


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I genuinely believe this place should be in the top 100 courses. It is always in great condition offering very quick greens and a variety of tees. Whilst i admit it is clearly a 'hotel' course, the value this place offers cannot be sniffed at. Bowood easily overshadows The Manor House at Castle Combe as it doesnt have any silly holes (like a par 5 where you have to hit 6 iron off the tee). If you get the chance, go and play!
July 12, 2012


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I played Bowood for the first time in March after the hardest British winter in memory and the grass had hardly had chance to start growing, but Bowood was in incredible shape considering the time of year. Was impressed with the greens which were quick and true and the fairways were also in very respectable condition – the Bowood green staff should take a bow. I’m not a lover of resort golf, nor am I Dave Thomas’s No.1 fan, however, I really liked his effort here at Bowood and it may even be my personal favourite Thomas solo creation alongside his equally challenging course at Abama. Interesting changes in elevation at Bowood make the course very enjoyable and despite the ups and downs, the walking is very easy. I am sure when the trees are in leaf and the birds are singing Bowood will be even better, but even in the stark, bare winter, it’s still a good golf course.

April 16, 2010


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I played here very recently and was pretty impressed. The start is a bit average and, though there are some lovely holes, I do feel it was a little 'samey'. The food is good and the staff are very friendly.You will require a really good long game (we played off the whites - 6900yds) and a very hot sand wedge; I have never been in so many bunkers in my life (10).The 9s seem to have been switched compared to some reviews but the par 5 12th is a cracker.
October 31, 2008


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Played here in the winter and was very disappointed with overall conditon of the course. Don't get me wrong theres some great holes on the course, but when I played here the fairways were poor and many of the holes were being worked on. Prehaps I didn't see it at its best, but I played Manor House the day before and that was streets ahead in every department on and off the course.
June 03, 2008


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Our society of 5 to 24 handicappers confirmed it's harder for the low handicappers than the rabbits, though they might not think it. Our eclectic score was 80. If it had been windy add another 15. Tight bunkered fairways demand a three wood off the tee on many holes and trouble is in front of the greens so take an extra club or two and aim for the back. Mostly flat, it could be uninspiring if the design were not so good. Friendly and welcoming staff makes a big difference compared to some high-brow corporate venues I've played. Pleasant patio and luxury feel to the place, but somehow it misses that bit of character you find at old established courses. Still a must- play and all our players are keen to return.
August 14, 2007


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After a slow start with up and down holes and the 1st and 2nd, the par 5 3rd is in my mind the start of a great course. The 8th has got to go down as one of the fun holes with a hint of quality all about it, cannot think that too many par 4’s are registered here. Holes 11, 12 and 15 reminded me of a little alpine corner seen only on ski resort postcards – fantastic. Great atmosphere in the clubhouse and a favourite for the corporate market. Bowood looks like one of those places that once you have found it, you would definitely return for another round (in a similar way to nearby Manor House). The promise of some onsite accommodation in 2008, can only elevate Bowood to the next level. Recommended.
October 12, 2006


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Response
Andy
March 08, 2010
To avoid any confusion, Bowood switched the 'nines' around in 2008 I believe; do take this into account when reading about the holes in the reviews. Thanks.