Hockley Golf Club dates back to 1914, when landowner Horace Trimmer decided to have a 9-hole course built as a silver wedding anniversary gift for his wife Bessie, who was a keen player.
Jock Woodson, club maker at the local Magdalen Hill links, laid out the holes in 1915 then he became the club’s professional for the following thirty-five years. A second nine was added soon after the layout first opened for play.
John F. Moreton and Iain Cumming take up the story in this edited extract from their book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses: “The landowner died in March 1920, and the executors decided to review and re-align the course. Braid was their choice. He was paid £25, and had the assistance of Woodson.
The two of them walked the downland from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. placing long sticks for greens and short ones for tees. The new course was to measure 5,500 yards, and to be similar to the longer, pre-1920 course.
It would be a fascinating exercise to compare the pre-Braid course, the Braid course, and the present course. Basically, they are not dissimilar, going up to the valley, hole 5 near the top, holes 6 to 13 to the right on rising and falling land, hole 14 across the top of the downland, and holes 15 to 18 along and down the left side.”
Very hilly and quirky
This is a very fine down land course fully justifying its place in the top 10 in the county and certainly in contention for being the finest in this area of South West Hampshire.
The first 4 holes are par 4's all around the 400 yard mark going up a valley on to a plateau where most of the rest of the holes reside. Arguably a bit samey but very enjoyable none the less, especially if you like playing up the valley with slopes on either side of the holes.
The 5th a decent medium length par 3 at the end of this valley as you turn on to the plateau on which most of this course is set. Holes 6-17 continue to wind their way around this plateau with a nice mix of short, long and medium holes.
It gets windy up here as it's on top of the South Downs so scoring can be tough on a windy day and it's chilly in the winter, so be prepared for this and be happy to enjoy the challenge of a stiff breeze on a regular basis.
Be careful on the 17th to keep the ball to the right as the fairway slopes strongly to the left and you can easily lose your ball in the heavy rough if not careful. If you have a natural draw or are prone to pulling the ball left, you need to be especially careful.
On a still sunny day it can feel really idyllic up on the plateau among the down land grasses that frame the holes, although the course is next to the M3 motorway so expect some traffic noise to interrupt the solitude.
You descend back to the club house via the 18th hole, a 540 odd yard par 5 hole. As it descends so steeply this can literally be a driver and a wedge but it helps to know your lines on this hole if you hit it long as the ball will run and run, especially in the Summer and you need to ensure you know where to find your ball. I am not a big fan of this hole or the aforementioned 17th. They just don't suit my eye but it is just my opinion and I very much like the rest of the course.
Conditioning on the greens and fairways was very good and they have a decent practice range and short game area a short walk from the club house.
I would strongly recommend this course, especially if you enjoy down land courses. The members are lucky to have such a nice course and easily justifies a good 4 ball rating.