Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin) - Lincolnshire - England

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


  • +44 (0)1526 352511

  • Golf Club Website

  • ½ mile NE of Woodhall Spa

  • Contact in advance - handicap certificate required


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?

The future of the Hotchkin was addressed in 2015 as there was serious concern about the poor condition of the bunkers, the encroachment of trees and the general more parkland feel of the layout. Tom Doak and his Renaissance Golf Design team were called in develop a plan that would see the course through the following twenty-five years of operation. In the architect's words: “Generally removing visual clutter so that the unique bunkering can dominate the views.”

Key areas to be tackled included the renovation of all the bunkers, the significant removal of trees and scrub, the restoration of heather and heathland characteristics, and the return of greens to their original dimensions.

The plan was to tackle six holes a year for three years, starting in December 2016. Tom Doak and his team carried out the shaping and the club’s in-house green keeping team finished the re-instatement work that was necessary.

Holes 7 to 11 and 13 were completed in phase 1, holes 5, 6, 12, 14, 16 and 17 in phase 2 and the remaining holes in phase 3. During the project, 43 new bunkers were constructed or re-introduced, three greens were moved and re-shaped, more than 30,000 square metres of turf was hand laid, 90,000 square metres of scrub cleared, and 10,000 trees cleared.

The journey to play this heathland gem is not easy for most visiting golfers, but the green fee is great value, especially if you are a member of an English golf club.

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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: 119
TaylorMade
jeffries
i am an 11 handicap at worsley marriott and turned up at the hotchkin course with my game in good order . That soon changed , 3 attempts at this course left me in tatters , 19 points was my best score , too fast , not any margin for error at all , bunkers that deep that the R A F must have bombed the area, and they just filled the holes with sand , well it is home to the dam busters !!! . hitting 7 iron 195 yards to stroke 1 hole was the highlight , but please play with caution and be aware that unless your 100% accurate then your in deep trouble , now im glad to get back to the marriott and restore my love of the game .
May 10, 2007
4 / 10
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Shahir Raja
August 16, 2007
An 11 Handicapper at a course like the Worsley Marriot would be about a 24 Handicapper at a Heathland course such as Woodhall Spa. PS, If you need to get away from Woodhall Spa and back to the Worsley Marriot to restore your love of the game, I'm afraid to say that your love is not for the sport of Golf!
Sam C
July 16, 2008
What are you talkin about? Worsley Marriot is a shocking course. You're criticising Woodhall for being hard?
Tim Reed
I have been lucky enough to play Woodhall many times as a visitor. Some of the other reviewers who think the course is not fantastic should return and play from the White tees. It simply requires every shot in the bag and when there is little run on the ball, there are some very daunting long approach shots required. It represents exceptional value if you are a member of any club affiliated to the EGU. £50 in the summer and £30 in the Winter.
November 24, 2006
10 / 10
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Ludwig Krause
The Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa will expose even the best disguised weakness in your game. Like all the great courses there is a sense of occasion when you stride out on the front nine. The layout is demanding with some superb burkers that look as though they were created by World War II bombers. I used all the clubs in the bag with difficult selections on most tee boxes. Some tense irons on the closing stretch cost me 5 strokes and the match, but even so I left the course with a smile and a sense of achievement. Do not be put off by the strange collection of sheds that they call a club house, there is a locker room and a bar there somewhere!
July 10, 2006
10 / 10
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Heath
Rightly rated as number 7 (Golf World) and number 43 in the World by Golf Digest. To suggest that Sunningdale or Loch Lomond are better is like suggesting the Belfry be a superior test of Golf than that of Turnberry! An inland golf course that is quite simply THE BEST in the UK and one that would rival Pine Valley (USAs equivalent inland great).
June 20, 2006
10 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
I had a huge expectation prior to playing here as the course always has great reviews and often is called best inland course in GB&I. The course as a whole is good, very good in places but by no means the best. In direct comparison with Sunningdale or Loch Lomond, Woodhall is not in the same league. As I say the course is good and some great bunkering is the feature on all holes – but I found the course lacking in quite a few areas – all just a little flat with no real drama holes. The rating makes the course a must play but felt a touch disappointed, the best inland rating must be given by reviewers that have not played many to be honest. As well as Sunningdale, I would recommend a look in at Ipswich (Purdis Heath), North Hants and Beau Desert … all get my nod over Woodhall Spa.
June 19, 2006
6 / 10
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Keith Baxter

I have played the Hotchkin course three times now and I actually think it's getting worse, certainly in terms of condition and I think they’ve become too pedantic for their own good. Played here only the other day and the greens were less than acceptable for the time of year and for a course which is ranked so highly.

I managed to find many of the enormous bunkers during my round (and I escaped from most I might add), but they are inconsistent. The sand is deep in some and virtually non-existent in others. The aesthetic look to the traps is also rather random. That said, the Hotchkin is a good course but not the best inland track in the British Isles.

In my opinion it lacks interest (in terms of elevation change) and it's too short from the yellow tees, especially during dry weather.

Finally I think the pedantic speed of play rules are truly bizarre; from the off we were given a "Time Par" card with timings to tell you how long it should take to complete each hole. When you reach the 12th there is a huge sign which says "2hrs 44mins to this point". Surely 2hrs 45mins would be acceptable? Frankly I think they should concentrate on getting the basics right (greens and bunkers) before the English Golf Union wastes money on daft things such as “time par cards”. How many times did we refer to the time cards on the way round? Yep you guessed it zero.

Woodhall really should be so much better than it currently is. It feels unloved and going backwards.

June 12, 2006
6 / 10
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ewjh
February 03, 2012
There is nothing in the rules of golf to say the depth of sand in bunkers must be consistent across the hole course. This is a myth profligated by pros in televised tournaments who insist upon it so as not to make them look stupid because they don't hit the perfect shot from a bunker. I dare say the professional game is all the worse for it. Judging the sand with your feet and adjusting your shot accordingly is meant to be the skill. Bunkers are meant to be hazards and should play as such. They should not be seen, as is now so often the case, as a predictable, 'bail out' alternative to a more tricky chip/putt from the surrounds.
golf bum
I had the privilege of playing this course on a sunny, calm, perfect day. Even so, it was very tough but very fair. It was in excellent condition except for the 12th green which had strange lines in it. All the other greens were very smooth and very fast. Woodhall has a lot of great holes and is a real bargain too, compared to some other top courses in the UK. I will definitely be back to play this course again.
June 07, 2006
8 / 10
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Bowlesie
Heavy overnight rain had overshadowed the anticipation of this long awaited visit. But the day dawned clear with a strong breeze into our faces going out. A beautiful classic heathland course echoes of St George's Hill, Hankley Common,and Sunningdale. A true test of golf in fantastic condition despite the rain. Staff were professional and welcoming, the bar is a great place to sit and relax. We played the Bracken in the afternoon which is great value for the day ticket, but not in the same league of golf course. Play this course its right up there. We have already planned the return.
May 14, 2006
10 / 10
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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 14, 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 23, 2006
6 / 10
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