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
Simon Chitty
What a fantastic course, played it y'day, an exceptional test of golf, the greens I thought were some of the best I've putted on and I play on a links course down in Kent. I would say it's one of the most difficult courses I've played, most shots not hit 100% will be penalised. I came expecting to be dissapointed due to the high ranking but left thinking that is the finest inland course I've played. Well worth visiting.
October 12, 2010
10 / 10
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I played the course twice this week on consecutive days and what a difference a day makes ! First impressions off the yellows I was expecting more, second impressions off the medal tees I'm hooked let me have another go, its that good a test. It really is a contrasting two nines, one open to the elements, the second harder to read as the trees block the wind. The heather is thicker, the ground lusher on the back nine, lots of carries, and invisible bunkers to be avoided. Shot selection, execution and then reading the subtle greens. Its not necessarily all about aesthetics, although it is beautiful, its natural heathland golf as intended. Dont expect a perfect lie on the well used fairways. This is a real test that will stretch even the good plus player. Try it off the medal tees 6921 yards, par 73 SSS 75, dont worry about the length the course runs, much more satisfying than the yellow tees, and you wont reach the trouble when you hit a decent drive ! dont forget your lobwedge :-)
September 25, 2010
10 / 10
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Greg Krieger
Although I didn't count the bunkers I agree with the review below. This is an indistinct course distinguished by some deep bunkers. It blends pleasantly with the flat landscape but is surely overrated in the top 100. How it can be above North Berwick, Hillside and Formby to name but a few is astonishing. If you think I'm links biased it's not as good as Woburn, Gleneagles (any of them) The (controversial) Belfry. Play it, but don't rush to get there.
June 09, 2010
6 / 10
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Dan
June 09, 2010
Well this is obviously the course for differences of opinion ! I loved the course and whilst one might argue the merits vs courses that one likes I would say that the quality of the course is undeniable. I can't wait to play it again and its isolation adds to the charm like Silloth.
dan
June 10, 2010
Apologies, i ran out of battery. I was just going to say that I would accept only King's at Gleneagles above the Hotchkin, but as for the Belfry...! Formby, Hillside and North Berwick West figure highly in my 'list' too, but Woodhall Spa felt just 'different', whether it is the unpretentious yet charming town (formby village without the airs and graces), the folly, the WWI style bunkering (or not being next to Birkdale !) but it stretches away from those we have mentioned. Plus I lipped out for a birdie on SI 1 off the yellows, which felt like plenty enough golf (Driver, 3W) thank you very much !
Dave Nimmo
July 12, 2010
Played the course on the 9th of July, huge dissapointment. I can't remember one hole which was distinctly different from any other. It was all much of a muchness, the Bracken had far more stand out holes. It was like a desert and the greens were barely alive. The sand just caves in on itself and was knee deep, my friend from NZ was laughing that it was meant to be in the top five. I agree it was tough, but there was nothing to take the breath away. Pretty boring knocking a four iron off every tee!
Paul Frust
November 11, 2010
Dave Nimmo - dont think you know what your talking about....Both Lee westwood and Sergio Garcia rate this course as one of the best in the UK....Its a real test of golf.
Duncan
September 11, 2011
A 4 iron off every tee? Afraid to take the driver eh? If Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia say The Hotchkin is good, that's good enough for me. I play this course regularly and the dry spring summer didn't do it any favours, it is now fantastic, two very different courses and challenges. Ask yourself if this course was near you wouldn't you join?
John
The Hotchkin is undoubtedly an excellent course but I would be reluctant to describe it as a 'great' one. It's defence is its bunkers. I counted 111 of them and without half of them it would be a much easier test. If you are a good bunker player the course would lose a lot of its challenge. If you are not then it is a nightmare. For me a great course requires different hazards - bunkers, water, tight driving lines, greens with subtle borrows, short par 4's and at least one monstrously long par 5. In other words a variety of challenges. The Hotchkin is mainly defended by sand which limits its appeal as far as I am concerned. Three weeks ago it was in immaculate condition although the greens could have done with a cut. They were true but too slow for a 'championship' course.
May 31, 2010
6 / 10
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steve
May 31, 2010
your idea of a great championship course is just that,your idea.what makes a course great is its uniqueness and woodhall has bunkers yes,which are unique.you played it off the yellows i presume because if you had played it off the back tees you would have found out about the heather carries and the tightness of the course and its different challenges.you are of course well entitled to your opinion.
Andrew
June 02, 2010
The problem with this review is not the opinion but the disparity between expressed statement and fact. The reviewer states "For me a great course requires .... short par 4s,and a least one monstrously long par 5. In other words a variety of challenges." Holes 10, 15 and 17 measure 338, 321, and 336 yards. The 9th is 584 yards. The 7th is 470, 13 451. The par 3s are 148, 209 and 172 yards. This is not variety ? "The Hotchkin is defended mainly by sand ......" No mention of heather-lined fairways or carries from the tee. I have played many rounds here. The Hotchkin is a strategically designed course requiring all 14 clubs in the bag. It fully merits its reputation and ranking. See the review of 20 January for a more accurate appraisal.
MikeM
I got there last Friday afternoon where we played the Bracken course at Woodhall Spa (which should be a hidden gem as you really need your A game around the greens) stayed overnight at the Woodhall Spa Hotel (Great room, Dinner and Breakfast included) then on Saturday morning played the Hotchkin Course which was absolutely great, but increadibly tough. A bit of room if you are off line the first couple of holes, but then to the end of the round it really tightens up with bunkers galore. Only issue was that the greens were just plugged. Well worth the trip from London and I am planning on getting there again this year.
April 22, 2010
10 / 10
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Blake Norton
What a great golf course this really is!! As low handicappers we asked the pro if we could play off the whites. He didnt advise it but as we were cat 1 golfers, he allowed it. Glad we did play off these as the white's were "nudged" quite well forward. Anyway, onto the course everything about the place was different class, from the driving range to the putting green to the memebers. It is a course were you have to "plot" your way round, you cant always hit driver off the tee because it can get so tight it has to be seen to be believed, and if you go in them bunkers then nevermind bogey you can be looking at double easily!!! I thought Ganton had bunkers but these put Ganton to shame!!! Holes wise there is really to many good holes to pick out but there really wasn't a weak hole on the course apart from a couple of par 3's, but if we had played them off the back trust me they wouldn't have been weak!! The greens were immaculate and quick for end of January. The fairways and tee boxes were also exceptional. Afterwards, an ex-captain came over and was very pleasent and asked us how we found the course etc etc.. A really nice touch to an excellent day out at Woodhall Spa
January 31, 2010
10 / 10
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Martyn Rees
Never will a golfer stand on so many tees and think 'oh my god'. All you see in front of you is an average of 180 yards of heather between you and the fairway, heather down either side and bunkers so deep that you are just glad to get your ball out. Getting out and reaching the green is rarely an option.Having played it many times I know you have as much chance of walking off with 20 points as you have walking off with 36. The course teaches you to take your punishment ie: knock it back on the fairway use your shots and move on. If you can stay out of trouble you will have the round of your life.Having said this I don't think I have ever finished a round and not wanted to get back out on the first tee and start again. Being the home of the E.G.U. the course is always in superb condition and the holes on the course look fantastic.The clubhouse has a real traditional feel to it and the staff from the catering to the shop to the starters are always friendly and welcoming.
January 20, 2010
10 / 10
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John Garrett
Is this the best inland course in England ? I would definitely say yes but then I've played the Hotchkin dozens of times and it never fails to impress. From the cavernous bunkers to the impenetrable heather and the immaculate greens it's a 'delight' from start to finish. And then the home made treacle tart for lunch, I've found heaven.....
January 19, 2010
10 / 10
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Campbell Hall
I played the Hotchkin at Woodhall Spa yesterday, before setting off I considered phoning the course to check if it would be open due to the torrential rain on Saturday evening. I needn't have worried, the course was immaculate, not a puddle in sight. I really enjoyed everything about the day, the unpretentious nature of the place, the condition and layout of the course and also the value for money - £45 absolute bargain. Some reviewers say the course is a bit flat, this is a fair point, however the way the bunkers are laid out makes for a challenging round. There is a real variation between the holes, some short par 4's which require an iron of the tee, mix up the round nicely.When you're out on the course you have a real feeling of seclusion and being away from it all, I really value this in a golf course and it's quite hard to find in England. All in all well worth a visit.
November 16, 2009
8 / 10
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Paul Miller
Let me first say that this is a fine course. However, when something is ranked so highly your expectations are naturally very high. For me, these were not met and would place courses such as Notts (Hollinwell), Alwoodley and Moortown higher than Woodhall. It is definitely worth playing but if you have played the courses above don't expect it to be on a level above.
September 27, 2009
6 / 10
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