The manor house on the Mottram Hall estate was built by the Wright family in the early 18th century and it remained the family seat until it was sold in 1922. The new owner then sold the property just after the start of the Second World War, when it was converted into a hotel.
The Devere Hotels Group operated the facility from the mid-1970s until 2014 then QHotels secured ownership for a few years before the leading spa resort group Champneys took control of the property in 2018.
The golf course is an early 1990s Dave Thomas design with an open front nine laid out on relatively flat parkland terrain and a more demanding, occasionally tree-lined back nine that loops round the historic buildings on the estate.
The course can be stretched to just over 7,000 yards and it proved its championship credentials by hosting the PGA Seniors championship in 2013, when Paul Wesselingh’s 272 aggregate score gave him a 4-shot winning margin in the event.
The Dave Thomas designed Mottram Hall will provide an adequate test of most golfers’ capabilities, especially from the back tees which stretch the course out to over 7000 yards, despite this though Mottram is very playable all year round and if you keep it straight off the tee and play the par 3s well then you should be in for a goof score. If the rough is grown up and you leak it off the tee though it can turn into a long day of searching for balls as the rough, especially the knee high long stuff is excruciatingly penal and in some areas the deepest rough isn’t that far from the fairway. It is a course of two contrasting nines with the front nine being a relatively flat parkland layout and the back nine being a more challenging task played through woodland and slightly more undulating. The course is also sand based so drains well so year-round golf on decent greens is always on the cards. There has been a recent change of ownership where the hotel and spa has had significant development, I hope that this continues with the course in the years to come as it could be a very good layout with some small improvements.
The front nine starts with a reasonably gentle introduction with a par 5 of around 500 yards, a true three shotter for most golfers however with very little danger off the tee, two decent shots will leave a relatively easy pitch onto a large green it is stroke index 18 so warm up beforehand to make sure you can take advantage. The 2nd is flanked by long rough to the right, so slicers beware, the green is protected by a hollow on the front left that contains 3 small pot-esque bunkers leaving a tricky up and down if the flag is on the front left. The 3rd is a split tee par 3 with the tee on the left being the more difficult of the two, the tee shot becomes narrower from this angle due to the trees. I’ve always found this hole plays longer than it seems so I always take an extra club as anything short will inevitably end up in the water that guards the entire front of the green. The 4th and 5th are both great par 4s. The 4th plays to a tricky two-tiered green. The 5ths tee shot can feel tight but there is plenty of room down there the longer hitters need to be aware of a stream that runs down the left of the fairway. Six is a dog leg right par 4 where long hitters will benefit from taking a line over the large tree visible from the tee. 7 is the first of the longer par 3s of which there is three at Mottram. At 190 yards off the yellows the left side needs to be favoured as a large bunker awaits down the right-hand side of the green. The 8th as long as you get a decent drive away presents no problems. The 9th the second of the par 5s on the front 9 can be a bit of a beast if playing into the wind. A narrow fairway if flanked in summer by the very long rough so tee shots slightly offline can be punished. Approach shots are played to a large two-tiered green so note should be taken of where the flag is as being on the wrong tier on this large green could put many a golfer into 3 putt territory.
The back 9 starts with another par 5. Both nines at Mottram start and finish with par 5s a unique feature that I quite enjoy. The 10th is a dog leg right where long hitters again can benefit from cutting the corner. The approach shot is played uphill to a large green, short right can leave a long tricky bunker shot. The 11th is another long par 3 however the shorter hitters will be able to run a shot up as there is little danger surrounding the green. The 12th starts a great run of holes to the finish a drive between the two trees will leave an approach to a narrow green surrounded by humps and hollows. The 13th SI 1 is a brute of a hole and I believe when they played the seniors championship here, they played it as a par 5. Off the yellows it is a 453-yard par 4 dog leg left that plays down and up the other side of a valley. A good drive will leave a long second shot playing over the valley to a large green that is surrounded by banking. Walk away with a 5 here and you will be happy. 14 plays slightly down hill, ideally you want to be left side of the fairway to have the best angle of attack into the green. Long left leaves you a very tricky chip shot that if misjudged could end up you playing your 4th from the sand however at stroke index 9 this will present many golfers with a good birdie opportunity nett score. The 15th is a risk reward hole longer hitters can carry the pond and leave a short pitch on which could mean a goof birdie opportunity. Shorter hitters hit to a tight area of fairway there is plenty of room to bail out right though providing you muss the loan tree. 16 is another long par 3 (there’s a theme here) playing down hill probably a full club less needs to be taken, a long green means 3 putts are common here. Probably the stand out hole on the course is the 17th, a long dogleg right with water off the tee right, long rough left playing your second over a dip with a stream in the middle, playing to a well-protected perched green with huge slopes over the back and too the right and OOB all down the right. If you get to this stage with a good card in your hand there are plenty of chances for you to wreck the last sixteen holes of good work. Without hesitation I would put this hole in a best of county 18. Finally the 18th a relatively benign par 5 where similar to the first if you get a decent drive away and a decent second you are in with a good bridie chance.
Overall Mottram is a tale of two halves. If the front nine was more like the back nine I feel it would rank significantly higher on the best in Cheshire list. The front nine is by no means a slouch however it can be a little dull and featureless at times. The greens are usually in reasonably good condition. In the summer the rough can be very penal and you can rack up a score quickly. The bunkers could do with some work but that goes for a lot of the courses in the area. I’m hoping the new owners spend their money wisely on the course as with some subtle improvements Mottram could possibly return to past glories. The practice facilities are good with a driving range, practice green with bunkers and a decent putting green that is reflective of the greens on the course. The bar and changing facilities are both of a decent standard too. For me this is a solid 3 ball rated course. Its worth a trip out if you are in the area.
Nice course, could be in better condition. The back nine is a much better golf course than the front nine.