Hollinwell Golf Course,
- +44 (0) 1623 753225
14 miles N of Nottingham
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.
The club has two extra holes for those wishing
to play a quick nine and then return to the clubhouse. Holes 8A (a par three)
and 9A (a par four) combine with Hollinwell’s holes 1-7 to form the 9-hole
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.
For all photos of reviews, please follow Chris’ Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/top.100.golf/
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.
Played Notts in the Senior Pairs Open on Wednesday. Course was in excellent condition, tough but fair. The management team made sure that we got a warm welcome with a greeter in the car park advising of all we needed to know. The social distancing and sanitizing regime was fully in place throughout the public areas.
The Corona virus impacted the catering and we were not allowed in the dining room. However all of my group were happy to sit outside and have our chips and sandwiches and watch the others come in.
A good day on a great course.
From the moment, the course comes into view after you drive in from the entrance, you always know you are in for a special day when you come to Holinwell. An old school club that is also very welcoming to a visitor, the whole vibe of the place is great. A heathland track, that normally plays firm and fast in summer, there is great holes throughout the round. Starting with the 2nd, a dogleg left par 4, that first asks you how much you want to take off with the drive, followed by a fun approach into an awesome green site that sits just over, and on the side of a hill. The 4th is a punch you in the face par 4, which is long, well bunkered and has an undulating green. For me this says a lot about what Holinwell is about- extremely tough, but extremely fun. After players tee off on the 8th, there is a chance to drink from the natural spring, the ‘Holy Well’, that gives the club its nickname. 10 is an example of the different ways to play the course, which, despite a tight tee shot, if players lay back they can give themselves more room. The stretch from 11-13 is about a good as a run of holes you will play anywhere, with 11 featuring a S shaped fairway in a valley, 12 a blind tee shot that leads to a green that is best accessed by a low, runner, and the picturesque 13th which is a downhill par 3. The 15th is another great green, which is basically surrounded by rough and heather. Players should know by now, but playing out of this heather aggressively is a real recipe for disaster! 16 and 17 is a short par 4 followed by a short 5, a last chance to salvage something before the strong finishing hole, played right up to the clubhouse. I don’t say this lightly, and really enjoy Royal St Georges, but I think I would have to say Holinwell is my favourite course in England.
Arguably my favourite course in England. Played it many times, the reviews below summarise it better and in more poetic terms than I ever could. But the 2nd, 3rd and 8 through 18 live long in the memory. Brilliant use of the natural features,its like the land was designed for the golf course.