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)

Average Reviewers Score:
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: 95
TaylorMade
Leslie Smith
Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic. You get the drift ?Returned to the Hotchkin for the first time in six years this week determined to hit a four iron off the first - right centre of fairway towards the right bunker at 233. Ha ! Once again, I pulled it into the left bunker ( 198) and the fun began . We played off the white tees ( handicaps 3, 5, 5 and 7) and I recovered surprisingly well overall.What to say new ? Well, this is truly one of the world's great inland courses - in my opinion, slightly ahead of Sunningdale ( old) and a class above the distinctly overrated Walton Heath. It is owned by the EGU and is comparatively easy to play - £85 on a weekday. It should however, carry a Bethpage type sign, warning mid handicappers to play the Bracken course instead of negotiating some of the 200 yard into the wind carrys required off some of the white teas ( and indeed, a few yellows) on the Hotchkin.Its all been said below- heathland, pine and purple heather. Deep, deep bunkers. The par 3 169 yard 5th( I hut a 5 iron into the strong wind )sees a narrow slim green flanked on left and right by deep bunkers requiring a recovery over 10-12 ft lips ! Every hole is interesting and the greens ran out beautifully this week. Long rough was fair and your ball was findable. A real joy for me are the three short par 4s - 15-17- fantastic designed short dog leg holes all heavily bunkered.I could go on and on- the long into the wind par 3 9th - again protected by a cavenously terrifying bunker to the right- what a hole !The staff and clubhouse have always been a treat- very approachable and rightly proud of their great course.In summary- beg, borrow and steal to travel to Lincolnshire and if you do- you will be having one of THE great golf experiences of your life.It deserves 7 balls !
August 15, 2013
10 / 10
Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)
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James
First, I must declare an interest. I grew up playing here a lot, and thus have an emotional tie. Respectfully, though, there can only be one rating for this truly great course. If you have the good fortune to play it (and you will struggle even from forward tees) walk back to the back tees and contemplate it from there! Equally, you cannot call yourself a good bunker player until you have tried to play from these insane pits. True class, save for perhaps the rather odd 15th, which I have always thought they should do something about. The stretch from 4 through to 7 has always been a personal favourite, though there are many great holes to choose from!
July 23, 2013
10 / 10
Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)
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Buzz
Played in June 2013 after torrential rain. Course in fabulous condition. True greens, not devilishly quick (maybe due to rain?) but very fair. Enjoyed the presentation of course (tee boxes, fairways, greens, bunkers all in great nick). Welcome fantastic, friendly and professional. Excellent facilities. Not over-impressed with course layout. Very samey in my opinion. 4iron + 8 iron sufgiced on majority of par 4s!! Worth playing although if in area I'd reccomend Seacroft before this if its purely the golf course you're looking for.
June 23, 2013
6 / 10
Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)
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steve
July 23, 2013
Very samesey mmmm. 4 iron 8 iron on most par fours, you should be on tour, if you're not already.
TR
August 16, 2013
Did you play from the ladies tees?
Richard
October 05, 2013
This is one of the strangest reviews I've ever read on top100. My son is part of England golf, so I've spent a lot of time at Woodhall. I also spent five years working as part of the support crew on the European tour, travelling to all the events and sometimes getting to play the courses FOC after the events, so I really do know a good course when I see one. To call Woodhall "samey" is just plain and simple wrong. What you should have said was... It is deeply complex, wonderfully designed, beautifully manicured, world class golf course, that is far to detailed to make any comment on until you have played it several times, only then will you begin to understand it's true quality. Seacroft is also a lovely course, but not in the same league as the Hotchkin.
Wallis
November 09, 2013
Have to agree with previous reply,tho I played the Hotchkin 20years off a 9HC there is no way this is a samey course,4iron 8iron on all par 4's !! I couldn't do that then,let alone now. Ignore the ludicrous review posted,one of the best,if not best,courses you are likely to play
Lee Stacey
Played this course on a sunny spring morning, what more can I say then wow….Took me a while to come to this conclusion but when you put everything in context i.e. layout, variety of holes and being unique! This course stands out above the rest. Yes I agree the course does share similar core details then other courses i.e. Notts & Sunningdale but the one thing you don’t forget about is the bunkers!! A good score can be had if you hit straight and stay out the heather and the bunkers. The greens were abit slow but ran true. Can’t wait to play the course again in the summer when the heather has blossomed. All holes are strong but if I had to pick one hole above the rest it will be the 11th which is a great looking hole of the tee.
May 02, 2013
10 / 10
Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)
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Allan Wright
I played the Hotchkin on 19 April, for the first time in over 10 years, and possibly the fifth time in all.I just wanted to report that the course was in excellent condition, and very well presented, tee to green. Given that we have just had the coldest spring for years, I was very pleasantly surprised by the condition of the course. The only "issue" was that the greens were slow, although true, but their heavy covering of grass was the only sign that the greenkeepers were protecting the course from the incessant traffic it receives. The speed of play was also good, smack on 4 hours for a fourball with a short stop at the halfway house thrown in.As for the layout, well, it's superb; you have to play all the clubs in the bag, and if you stray off line you get severely punished.I don't care if the clubhouse is "homely". It's also friendly, the newish locker room is fine, the beer is well kept Bateman's. But frankly, a visit to Woodhall Spa is all about the golf course - as good an inland layout from the golden age as exists in the country
April 23, 2013
10 / 10
Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)
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Geoff Long
Did I enjoy the course? - YesWould I go back? - DefinitelyIs it the 4th best course in England? - NeverThe course wasn't in great condition, and the greens were very slow but true.Also, possibly the least welcoming course I have been to with the starter being downright rude to us.
May 24, 2012
6 / 10
Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)
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Max Monroe
The real deal, this needs to be played by all but beware you need some game to make it around all 18 holes. Very difficult and it is so much fun to play. There are two holes on the inward nine that need some work (I think par 5 14 + par 4 15??). Other than those this course is brilliant! Too bad it is out of the way of everything otherwise there would be Opens contested here.
July 24, 2011
10 / 10
Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)
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Malcolm Searle
After reading the wide range of opinions on this site, I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this course. Like many others we drove up and played the Bracken one day and the Hotchin the next. The Bracken is a fun course and good warm up for the main event and it's greens are very challenging due to the huge contours on them. But the Hotchin was the course we'd come to play and I needn't have worried - what a great course! It's quite tight - and although it maybe a platitude - the advice to be 'straight & long' is crucial. Although there's a lack of elevation changes this is more than compensated for by the design and bunkering, you also need to think about plotting your way around and good course management was the key to good scores in our party.It was in fantastic condition considering the amount of footfall here and the greens were impeccable, the staff were very helpful and the lucky members were a nice bunch.Great value, have re-booked for next year, pity it's such a long way from anywhere!
July 06, 2011
10 / 10
Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)
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ian evans
played the bracken first, good course bit of room and flatish bunkers, greens probably the most undulating i have played but if you got on the right side you could make a score. played the Hotchkin next day and would go back. Bunkers like i have never seen, but keep away and a score can be made. Great experience and i will return, just a shame it's so far away.
June 16, 2011
10 / 10
Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)
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malcolm roberts
Finally got to play here after some years and it proved to be everything that I expected. Yes its flat (it's Lincolnshire for Gods sake) but there is not a weak hole on the course and the bunkering is just fantastic, what bunkers should be rather than these shallow american style "sand traps" that we see far too much of .In good condition in spite of the prolonged dry spell, greens fast and true. A real golfing treat.
May 24, 2011
10 / 10
Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin)
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Joey
May 24, 2011
I can completely agree that the Hotckin was more than expected. However, to classify shallow bunkers as American is just incorrect. There are plenty of courses that have as much teeth as any of them at Woodhall or Ganton, or for that matter St. Enodoc or St. Georges. I am regularly miffed at the at the constant complaint of American golf as being bland. There are planty of amazing courses to see in the States. I understand they are very exclusive and that may take away from them. Visit Bethpage Black and try to tell me they are inferior to the Hotckin. Or for that matter check out Whistling Straits or Pinehurst. All of these courses are as playable and are equally enjoyable. I do not think there is a shortage of bland tracks in the U.K. or Ireland. Trust me, I love the golf there and would ultimately prefer playing there but can also enjoy a round at Cog Hill or Montauk Downs. There is quality golf on the RTJ golf trail in Alabama and plenty of great tracks in Arizona that need no more than a phone call. Save the American golf bashing for lesser audiences please.