Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin) - Lincolnshire - England

Woodhall Spa Golf Club,
The Broadway,
Woodhall Spa,
Lincs,
LN10 6PU,
England


  • +44 (0)1526 352511

  • Golf Club Website

  • 19 miles SE of Lincoln

  • Contact in advance - handicap certificate required


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)

The Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa invariably fights with Loch Lomond and Sunningdale Old for the coveted position of “best inland golf course” in the British Isles. Originally, Harry Vardon laid out the course and it opened for play in 1905. Harry Colt, just before the Great War, made further modifications to the layout. But in the 1920s, the owner, Colonel S.V. Hotchkin, put the course through one last major redesign phase before the Hotchkin finally matured into its present layout. The English Golf Union purchased Woodhall Spa in 1995 for a reputed £8m and turned it into their headquarters.

An oasis in the heart of Lincolnshire. Set amongst glorious pine, birch and broom, this heathland course is an absolute delight to play. The sandy subsoil allows all-year-round golf, the springy turf making walking a real pleasure. Keep your ball in play and do your best to avoid the heather, gorse and bunkers. See if you can copy the feat of J.A. Wilson (8 h/cap) and his opponent L.D. Henshaw (12 h/cap). In 1982, Wilson holed in one at the 12th (a beautiful, long par three) but only managed a half because Henshaw also holed in one. Apparently they were hurrying their shots too because they had just been invited to play through. The four-ball standing behind the green were gobsmacked!

The Hotchkin is bunker heaven (or hell), notorious for its deep, cavernous sand traps. It is also helpful if you can hit the ball long and straight. Otherwise you will be presented with some very tough second shots. Woodhall Spa isn’t a tournament course, but it is supremely challenging and plays host to a number of distinguished national and international amateur competitions.

Many important matches have been decided on its famous 18th hole. This 540-yard par five finishing hole typifies what is so special about Woodhall Spa. If we can strike the ball with solidity off the tee and avoid the hazards, then we give ourselves a chance of scoring well. We can see the flag clearly in the distance but the drive is tight. We must land left of the sentry oak, but not too far left, otherwise we will be bunkered. We must be dead straight in order to find the crisp, sandy fairway and if we achieve all these things, and if we are a stout hitter, we may be tempted to go for the green with our second shot. It is tempting - the route to the green is visible but is protected by bunkers and there's a swale guarding its right flank. What can we say? “Go for it” perhaps?

It is definitely worth making the trip to play this gem and the green fee is tremendous value for money too (especially if you are a member of an English golf club). And remember - the Hotchkin is undoubtedly one of the premier inland courses in the whole of the British Isles. Can you afford not to play it?

In 2016 Tom Doak was hired to advise Woodhall Spa on a development plan that includes tree clearance and “generally removing visual clutter so that the unique bunkering can dominate the views”. Additionally bunker faces will be reconstructed to ease maintenance. The schedule of works was due to be completed by 2022, but we received an update from Tim, a Woodhall Spa member, in February 2017:

"The work Tom Doak is doing has been speeded up and should be completed by 2019. All bunkers are being remodeled, many that had disappeared are being reinstated and a small number of obsolete ones are being removed. Huge areas of undergrowth have been cleared so that the feel of an old fashioned heath with far reaching views across the course are being brought back. Although only holes 7,8,9,10,11 and 13 have been done so far, the changes are fantastic and when completed will elevate Woodhall further from its already lofty position. Some of the holes (still to be completed) will have significant work done to the greens and also the position of the tees."

Tim contacted us again in February 2018: "“The second phase of the three-year renovation program at Woodhall Spa is nearly complete. The changes this year are to holes 5, 6, 12, 14, 16 and 17. The changes to the two par fives (6 and 14) are particularly dramatic. Many trees have been removed. Many old bunkers have been reinstated and the visual impact of these changes are striking.”

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Reviews for Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)

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Description: Woodhall Spa Golf Club is an oasis in the heart of Lincolnshire, set amongst glorious pine, birch and broom, this heathland golf course is an absolute delight to play. Rating: 8.6 out of 10 Reviews: 101
TaylorMade
Andrew B
Played this for the first time last week and it was staggeringly good for a venue that receives relatively little press. I found myself comparing it to the best inland course I have ever played - Valderrama. At first sight they may seem terribly different: the Spanish course is all manicured fairways, super-quick greens and very high green fee exclusivity, whereas Woodhall is determinedly rugged in its beauty, lined with gorse and ragged bunkers, with very reasonable green fees available to anyone who belongs to a golf club. But in fact the challenges are similar. Those Woodhall greens, while not the Valderrama carpets, are still very quick and true. Driving at both courses forces you to be both long and accurate in order to find a decent line in to the greens. You will find yourself trying to be creative to maintain par around the greens, and also being forced to hit long irons into many of the holes. Valderrama is £200 per round and Woodhall is £55, which is probably the best bargain in golf. Loved it and will return.
May 15, 2006
10 / 10
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Jim Huton
Sorry, but I just don't get it. I have only played it once. I played to my hadicap (it was cold and breezy) so it couldn't have been that, but I just don't get it. To me it seems contrived and it's claim to fame must be the bunkers - some of which have to be seen to be belived. I won't hurry back.
April 24, 2006
6 / 10
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James Frew
Truly excellent in every way. There is so much to do on every hole of this course, it makes most other courses look very average. It is long, tight, sandy and varied. The par 3s are brilliant and look out for the plaque on on the 12th...no matter what your frame of mind when you reach the tee, it reminds us why we love the game in the first place.The facilities are great, the staff are helpful and welcoming. It is a must for any golfer in search of the best courses in the UK.
March 01, 2006
10 / 10
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Heath
A heathland course that every other should aspire to be. By far Britains best inland Golf course. A heathland course only matched by that of Walton Heath and Hankley Common in Surrey. Two similar feeling, spacious, and stunningly designed masterpieces. Woodhall Spa currently ranked 43rd in the World by Golf Digest USA. This course is rightly ranked as one of the Worlds best. Heaven.
January 17, 2006
10 / 10
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michael logue
What an outstanding club, we played the Hotchkin in the morning and the bracken in the afternoon.What an experience the Hotchkin is with 365 bunkers some of which you could place a double decker bus in,although the end of October the course was in outstanding condition and the hospitalilty from the club was fantastic. If you love golf you'll love woodhalll, as the course guide says keep it straight and you'll make the most of it ,if not stop at the pro shop for more balls for the afternoon.
October 30, 2005
10 / 10
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Adrian Gaspar
Simply the yardstick by which I will measure any other inland course, and frankly none that I have played so far come close. A bit off the beaten track but I thought it was incredible value for money considering the quality and difficulty of the course.I thought comments about the bunkers were bound to be a bit exaggerated but for some of the par 3's the depth and difficulty of the bunkers is actually understated, because a couple of the greens are pretty small aswell. My only disappointment was not having a great day off the tee, because you must be reasonably long and straight, otherwise this course will make a complete mess of your scorecard.
October 04, 2005
10 / 10
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Paul Nash
I was expecting a lot the first time I played here and I was not disappointed. I even underestimated how good a golf course could be. This is undoubtedly my favourite course and has to be the best inland course in the country. You run out of good things to say because you end up repeating yourself too much on most holes - usually "wow.. what a stunning design.. look at the size of that bloody bunker! etc". The course is very fair - play straight and you can score well, go off line or in the sand a lot and you will have a nightmare. The 3s at 5 and 12 are awesome. The par 4 7th, 10th and 11th are among my favourites, although every hole is special. The par 5 ninth is the best par 5 I have played. It is good value for money despite going up a fair bit in the last couple of years. I look forward to my regular pilgrimage to Woodhall in August/ September 05.
November 08, 2004
10 / 10
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David Richards
What a wonderful example of how a golf course should be. We played it on an impossible day. 3 club winds are not the best but we all still enjoyed it. As a reasonable golfer myself, I fully understand the difference between a genuine golf course and a course that is set up to trick you. This course has fair greens, decent size fairways and punishing rough and bunkers. Hence, play well score well, play badly, score big!!!Condition was excellent (as you would expect at this time of year), welcome was friendly and professional, and they serve a good pint of Batemans! What more can one ask for.
September 22, 2004
10 / 10
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KP
If ever a course requires you to bring your 'A Game' then this is it. It has the biggest and deepest bunkers that I've ever played out of - they have to be seen to be believed. Put simply this is a course that only should be played by 'decent' golfers otherwise you will have a very frustrating day. That said the Bracken Course is also on offer at Woodhall Spa and is a reasonable parkland layout. The Hotchkin has some great holes: P3's 5 + 12, P4's 11 + 13 and P5 9th are the stand-outs. Often compared to Sunningdale as the 'Best Inland' course in the UK - the Hotchkin is better value for your money (half the price!) and a must-play for all serious golfers who like a challenge. KP H=9 / B=6.5
August 13, 2004
8 / 10
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Colin Jones
A lovely course, but take your bucket and spade with you - the bunkers are something else. Some are so deep a de-compression chamber is recommended, racking up a big score at a par 3 is easily done if you go in one of them. There is another 18 at Woodhall which is more modern and easier, but the main course is the key attraction and well worth the visit. Lovely countryside and friendly staff.
April 15, 2004
6 / 10
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