Hollinwell Golf Course,
- +44 (0) 1623 753225
2 miles SE of Kirby-in-Ashfield
Contact in advance – weekdays only – handicap cert required
Willie Park Jr., Tom Williamson
“After being too long away I lately went back to Hollinwell, which, as all the golfing world knows, or ought to know, is the course of the Notts Golf Club,” wrote Bernard Darwin in an article for Country Life. “On one side of it, there runs a pleasant wooded path by a series of lakes, and by this path Byron used to walk from Newstead to see Mary Chaworth at Annesley. Behind the course stands a hill covered with bracken from which Robin Hood used to watch for signals at Nottingham warning him that the Sheriff was setting out in pursuit. These are romantic circumstances, and I thrilled as I was told of them.”
Hollinwell is so called because there is a holy well located amongst the trees close to the 8th fairway. Water from the well is said to lend much needed strength to the golfer, especially during the heat of summer.
Notts Golf Club was founded in 1887. moving to its current site at Hollinwell in 1901, where Willie Park Junior had laid out a course for the members. Modifications (primarily to bunkering) were later made by club professional Tom Williamson and John H Taylor, to whom the club paid the princely sum of five guineas for his services. Tom Williamson built three new holes when further land became available in 1910.
The bunkers at Notts are relatively shallow, unlike some of the cavernous bunkers found at Woodhall Spa or Ganton but the Hollinwell course plays across wonderfully undulating ground where some of the fairways sweep through wooded hillsides and where others run through heather, fern and gorse clad valleys. Unusually, there are a number of varieties of gorse at Notts, and even in the depths of winter, you will find some in flower.
The course feels very much like heathland (the soil is sandy and the turf is firm), but it also has a moorland flavour and a touch of woodland. Despite the varied landscape, this attractive course comes together really well and actually gets better and better as you progress from hole to hole. It is also worth mentioning that a great deal of effort is being put in to encourage the heather to return to its former glory.
Over the years, Notts Golf Club has hosted a number of professional and amateur events. The 1970 John Player Classic (won by Christy O’Connor Senior) was probably the most notable, with a world record first prize of £25,000. Notts is a monster of a course (at more than 7,000 yards long) and it is probably capable of hosting a modern tournament.
Keep an eye out for the fabulous 13th hole; six bunkers surround the green. It’s a downhill par three (228 yards from the back tees) with stunning views.
Since 2011, the club has been involved in a long-term project to restore the course to its original heathland characteristics (through selective tree removal, heather regeneration and gorse management, along with the promotion of fine grasses) and this strategy is continuously reviewed with the assistance of specialist agronomy advisers.
Hollinwell is the absolute definition of tranquillity. You get the feeling from the three quarter of a mile stretch from the road down a private track along the 18th hole to the clubhouse.
It's a very interesting course. Parkland in places, heathland in places with holes that are very tight, to holes where everything is widespread and the hole is laid out in front of you. Some great water features on the front nine which is rare to see from a 'heathland' although it doesn't really come into play which is a little disappointing.
I was very excited coming to play the course. I'd heard great things, after all it had hosted a few friends in the final open qualifying. So it's got to be good hey!
It starts with a rather aggressive looking par 4. It's not long but a hole where you cant see a green from the tee I think plays a part psychologically and you try and hit it further or change clubs. The first three form almost a perfect triangle back to where you started where you cross the clubhouse and play the fourth out into the bulk of the course. The second shows very early on how impressive the course is, with big sweeping hills lined with pine trees as the perimeter. This leaves a visually stunning backdrop which is often seen at other points in the course.
Honourable mentions to the 4th - with very well placed bunkers on either side of the fairway, the 8th which comes at a slight angle to the fairway, 10 and 11 with incredibly tight fairways, with the 10th being a blind tee shot. 12 another blind tee shot where you better hope your cardio is there! The highest point of the course with great views over the countryside. 13 Probably the signature hole back down the hill par 3 with the elevation change playing a big role in distance but I think one of my favourite holes is 14. A good tee shot rolls you down a steep hill which then opens up this small green tucked away in between two steep hills lined with heather.
Apart from the occasional train, you really struggle to hear anything at Notts, it really is an isolated place. The layout does a good job of making every hole different and not running parallel to the last. Some holes feature some big sweeping hills behind the green layered with bracken and then littered with beautiful pine trees. The 2nd and 17th are great examples of this.
I can't really pick out many weak holes from today. There is a reason this place has a 7 year waiting list. An amazing grass range with a great chipping green with multiple bunkers. A two tiered putting green and members pitching area which you pass on the way in and way out.
Hollinwell is the 91st golf course I've played, the 22nd out of the top 100 and although I've only played two courses above this in the rankings to date (Woodhall Spa and Royal West Norfolk) it sits very closely with these two. It's so hard to compare courses of this level with one another because they all have their own merits, and personal preference will take over because the condition of all 3 were as good as you can get in England so the only difference is the layout and overall experience there, all of which have been fantastic at all 3.
Good positive review Jez and delighted you enjoyed it. I think the members, and I, would disagree on 'part Parkland in places'. It's heathland all the way. Which holes did you consider parkland?
Finally managed yo play the course today after a long wait. Only a couple of weeks before final qualifying takes place here for the open and the competitors are in for a treat. As soon as you turn off the main road and drive through a wooded entrance for about half a mile you know that something special awaits. What a fantastic heathland layout from start to finish, set in a vast expanse of land that feels as if it could easily fit another golf course around the edge. No weak holes here everyone strong, easy on the eye and immaculately groomed. We played off the tips so witnessed the full ferocious force of the course, accuracy a premium with ball hungry heather and gorse awaiting along with excellently placed bunkering. Hollinwell truly deserves its place amongst the top rated UK courses, a thoroughly enjoyable day out, well worth a visit.
I have wanted to play Hollinwell for a long time after having met a couple of its members who highly recommended it several years ago during a golf trip to Yorkshire.
It's set in a truly stunning location and has to be one of the prettiest inland courses in England.
I particularly enjoyed the opening and closing holes (2nd and 17th especially stood out to me) with the wonderful backdrop of pine trees high up above you along the ridge.
The round itself was a little bit spoilt by the pace of play on the course (I've only played there once so this might have just been a one off occasion) but my playing partner and I found it frustrating to take just under four and a half hours for a round of golf as a two ball due to extremely slow play ahead of us.
There were a couple of holes with blind tee shots, which probably could do with a bell / light system to let the players knowing teeing off that it's safe to do so, as we very narrowly missed getting hit by an excellent tee shot, on I think the 9th hole, from a player following us.
For anyone short of time and looking to play a couple of fantastic inland English golf courses over a couple of days, then look no further than Hollinwell and Woodhall Spa, just over the border in Lincolnshire - you certainly won't regret it.
Hollinwell is a wonderful course set in a huge expanse of land. Whilst playing the course you have this tremendous feeling of space. Unlike many courses, holes do not run side-by-side and there is a delightful extravagance in holes heading off in seemingly random directions. Several holes are set against the backdrop of forested hills adding drama to the course. The stretch from 11 to 18 contains some fantastic golf holes including a number of potential card-wreckers. The course was also in great condition. I didn’t play my best on my first visit which makes me even more determined to come back and play this great track again.
Absolute quality from the moment you come down the drive and all opens before you. If this course was in Surrey it would be in the top 5. An absolute gem
If Notts was in Surrey it might make the Surrey county Top 5 but it wouldn’t threaten any one of the top three positions. I'm just relived you didn’t call it a “hidden” gem.
I have spoken to multiple Notts members over the years, all of whom had nothing but high praise for their course. Each time they would talk about the huge improvements that were being made to the course, and how great the club is and its membership.
You begin by driving through the course on a long driveway before you reach the old and lovely clubhouse. The view from the bar that looks over the 18th is spectacular, and the clubhouse offers a panoramic view of over 5 holes, from the bottom of the bowl the course is sat in.
I'll quickly run through the front nine, as the back nine is where the course gets great.
2 is a wonderful but hard par 4 that doglegs left up a hill and around heather, with the green sat below a rocky cliff.
The 3rd is a brilliant downhill par 5 with exciting land movement and good green side bunkering. The green is sat a couple of yards from the road which sort of acts as a hazard, and the hole finishes beneath the clubhouse which I love.
4 is a good uphill par 4, and 5 is a nice par 3. The 6th is a strong long par 5 with fantastic undulations. My one criticism of the course is that I would like to see some tree removal around 5, 6 and 7 where it feels a bit claustrophic.
8 is a good par 4 with a cool green, and 9 is a nice long par 3. The front nine is good, but the back nine is one of the best I have played.
10 is a wonderful par 4 with a blind tee shot, and a really cool approach to a green that is cut into the hill, with clever cross bunkers short of the green. This is probably my favourite of the holes at Notts that fly under the radar.
11 is a superb short par 4 that weaves through a valley up to a tiny green. The fairway is only 20 yards wide, but everything either side kicks back down, so it is quite forgiving.
13 is a spectacular par 3 that is arguably the signature hole here. It can play up to 245 yards down a huge hill to a cool green with beautiful bunkering. It is followed by a nice par 4 at 14 which has some cool land movement.
15 is a long par 4 where the approach is similar to 11, with the green sat at the bottom of a valley.
16 is a world class par 4 that plays massively downhill off the tee, with a green guarded by bunkers. You are given plenty of options off the tee and it is a wonderful short par 4. Long hitters might be able to drive it.
17 is a great par 5 with a tough uphill tee shot guarded by bunkers. The approach plays to a large green that is tucked beneath a hill, so any shot long, left or right will feed back. Another good birdie chance.
18 is a class finishing hole that plays downhill towards the clubhouse. It is heavily bunkered and you'll need 2 good shots to make par.
If Notts was in Surrey I believe it would get more credit than it currently gets. That being said, it is a wonderful heathland course that is a must play if you're in the area. It is also complimented by Woodall Spa and Sherwood Forest that aren't too far away.
After plenty of COVID related changes to our 2020 Annual Golf Trip, Notts hosted the opener for our four day trip and what a start it was!
Notts, or more commonly known as Hollinwell, after the Holy Well that resides off the 8th tee box, is primarily a Heathland course, which also includes some Moorland holes.
The course does not take long to warm up. After a relatively tame opening hole, the wow factor starts on Hole 2 and lasts all the way to the final green. This is a very beautiful course that uses its undulations and mounds of heather, fern, gorse and trees to carve out 18 different holes. In fact the undulations combined with the surrounding landscape makes you feel as though you are taken on a journey right to the final hole.
There are a great mix of long and short holes and the tougher holes are well interspersed with holes that can be taken advantage of.
Standout holes for me would be the 2nd, dog legging left into a green surrounded by a huge mound of ferns, the 11th, which is a par 4 played uphill through a winding valley and the cracking Par 3 13th, a long downhill Par 3. The closing 3 holes are also a fantastic finishing stretch with the 18th back to the clubhouse a fine finishing hole.
A lovely course that i will look to return to in the Spring when the Heather is in full bloom. This is a course that should be on everyone’s radar.
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A course that took me by surprise when competing in a golf tournament back in 2014. The course was my first taste of English Heathland golf and on my return back home I was craving some more! At the time I was pretty young and naive and had no idea why people weren’t talking about this course? The routing ambles through a midlands forrest with a variety of land movement which feels like it comes from all directions. A delightful balance of a course that is challenging, yet a wonderful escape from the urban environment.
What a fantastic golf course! Played here in a recent invitation day. The course was in very good condition, given the recent weather. Why stands out about the course is the variety of holes, changes in elevation and pure difficulty of several holes.
The only indistinctive hole in the course is the 1st, every other is characterful and interesting. The 2nd, 3rd, 11th, 13th, 16th and 18th stood out to me as top holes.
Have to say Alwoodley being above Hollinwell in the rankings seems bizarre. Alwoodley has lovely springy turf, but Hollinwell is in a different stratosphere of class in terms of layout and pure fun.
My playing partners had never seen me move so quickly. The 35 miles-an-hour wind literally snapped my pal's umbrella holder and the brolly was cartwheeling across the course. Showing rare athleticism, I retrieved it and returned it to its owner who was already downcast by a chastening round at Hollinwell, a woodland course which would be tough even in benign conditions.
He was not alone in his distress. I also contributed feebly to our team's tepid score in a Pro-Am before which we had high hopes.
The truth is if you don't have a good start at Hollinwell, you probably won't get the chance to make up ground on the back nine which includes what must be the toughest stroke index 18 in the country - the par five 17th.
By then, our round had well and truly gone west, the ferocious wind having blown many a promising ball into the punishing rough.
Hollinwell is a very fine course with some belting holes and brilliant views over the Nottinghamshire countryside - even in drenching rain.
I am biased in reckoning the downhill long par-three 13th as my favourite because I nailed a birdie two when, for a brief interlude, the sun came out.
It was a rare success during a round which showed why we should have thought more about plotting our way around Hollinwell than trying to defeat it and the elements.
Anyway, as it is the nearest in the UK's top 100 to my home, I must go back when the sun is shining and the wind is calmer. I am sure than I will be more beguiled by its beauty then.
Hope you get to play it on a calmer day Neil. It's a truly class track. I wouldn't say the par 5 17th is that hard. I generally get a par and am not a big hitter by any means. Suspect it was the rain and wind which made it play harder for you that day.