The City of Nottingham purchased the 16th century Wollaton Hall and surrounding park from Lord Middleton of the coal-mining Willoughby family in 1925. Tom Williamson – the Notts professional who was said in his day to have laid out just about every course within a 50-mile radius of Nottingham – was called in to design an 18-hole course in 140 acres of the property, receiving 150 guineas for a project that took 18-months to complete.
The golf club got under way with 108 names on the original membership list, and the entrance fee was set at 3 guineas for men and 2 guineas for ladies. Annual subscriptions cost 6 guineas and 3½ guineas, respectively. Green fees were set at 2 shillings and sixpence from Monday to Friday, and double that amount on a Saturday. There was no play allowed on a Sunday until 1959. Within two weeks of its formation, the club had almost doubled its membership.
The official opening took place on 5 May 1927 with an exhibition match involving two of The Great Triumvirate, J. H. Taylor and Harry Vardon, along with Ernest Whitcombe (who’d finished runner-up in the 1924 Open) and the architect Tom Williamson.
Today, the course extends to 6,513 yards from the back tees, playing to a par of 71, with holes 2 to 7 set out on estate grounds that lie to the other side of the tree-lined drive leading to the magnificent Wollaton Hall, which is now used as the city’s Natural History Museum.
Feature holes include the shortest of the five par threes at the 129-yard 8th; the 441-yard 14th which is rated with the lowest stroke index on the back nine; and the tough 419-yard finisher, where the home green lies close to the clubhouse, naturally.
The club hosted the Girls Amateur championship in 1959 (won by Sheila Vaughn, who went on to compete in the 1962 and 1964 Curtis Cup matches) and the 35th edition of the PGA Seniors in 1991, when Brian Waites retained the title he’d won at Brough the previous year.
What’s not to like about Wollaston Park? where else can you play golf whilst deer wander across the fairway and you have to make the decision whether to wait or drive over them, under them or around them?
Set close to the City Centre, this course is set in beautiful grounds of the Wollaton Hall. No tee bookings are needed, simply roll up and play.
When you stand on the 1st tee you think you’re just in for a round at an OK track as the tee box is unassuming and the hole nothing spectacular in front of you. But once you are off on your round there is a very enjoyable round of golf to be had.
The greens were quick, the fairways lined with long whispy grass and the course wends through woodland. 4 par 5’s on this overall par 71 means good opportunities for scoring and some enjoyable par 3’s mixed in.
The course is on sandy soil and undulating and a real pleasure to play with a friendly welcome in the clubhouse afterwards.
One of the better ‘Nottingham’ courses.