The UK is blessed to have a few rare pockets of heathland in some random spots throughout the country. When the great golf architects of yesteryear found these spots to build golf courses on, they were generally built to last. This is certainly the case at Notts.
The natural terrain at Hollinwell is what makes this place so special and the expanse of the land available had ensured it’s able to be future proofed for modern day equipment, with a par 72 measuring over 7,200 yds off the tips. The course is certainly proving to be long enough for modern day standards, as it will be home to the 2019 Final Open Qualifying for the second year running.
That said, the challenge here isn’t all about the length, as the firm and fast fairways give plenty of run out to tee shots. What makes this course challenging is the variety and individuality of the holes. The greens here are firm and true and consist of a mix of grasses, including bent, fescue and some meadow, which is noticeably different to some of the heathland layouts in the South of the country where meadow seems to be the most prominent strand. I’m told they regularly run at 10 on the stimp... impressive when you consider these are the same surfaces that were laid over a century ago.
Willie Park Junior has certainly made the most of what he had to work with, by designing a superbly routed layout that ebbs and flows over an expansive terrain. Elevation changes rein throughout with every hole playing differently from the others.
The opening hole is a basic start to the round, but this soon changes with #2 being exceptional, a dogleg right to left with a greensite tucked into the landscape between a natural valley. The 3rd is the first of 3 par 5’s, each of which is give a scoring opportunity if played well. The quality of the holes seem to get stronger throughout the round, building up to a finish well worth waiting for on the 18th, one of the best closing holes I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing from a tactical and aesthetic perspective. What I really like here is that despite having lots of raised tee boxes you rarely seem to be hitting up hill to a blind flag. This is quite an bewildering achievement, as it seems to defy the natural topography of the land and really enhances the playability.
The lasting memory at this venue is a classic layout with modern day presentation. The tee boxes and greens are immaculate and the turf on the fairways is made for golf. Fair and playable bunkering makes recovery a possibility for the errant approaches, mixed with numerous swails and run offs to demand a variety of short game skills and imagination.
I love the original features in the clubhouse, it gives you the feeling this place is steeped in tradition. I feel a bit of envy towards the members, who must surely play for all manor of palates and trophies carried over from generations gone by.
I’ll definitely be returning to the area to check out the local neighboring clubs which are also built on this heathland belt, but i’d be very surprised if they come close to the overall quality you experience at Notts GC. SB
Date: April 16, 2019