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: 98
TaylorMade
stephen voce
9th?Play this course and say it out loud..."9th!!!!!!!!"Just because a relatively long,flat golf course has a number of enormous bunkers on every hole doesn`t make it a great course.This is the most ludicrous rating of any in the top 100.
August 02, 2008
4 / 10
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Paul
August 02, 2008
The only thing ludicrous about your review is your complete inability to recognise a quality golf course. I could understand if you made constructive comments such as the land being flat, one of the only things you could say in my opion on the negative side, and marked it down as 5(although it is clearly a 6), but to give it an average rating is way off the mark as the couse is one of the world's best and most people see it as such.
moreski
August 05, 2008
I was scepticle about 9th, but I have to say having now played the course (in the pouring rain) I agree with the scoring in the top 100. It's a truly wonderful course, beautifully presented and a great test of golf. Your scoring of 3/6 is simply ridiculous and I can only presume that you play your golf on a local pitch and putt, enjoying the fact that the bunkers are nice and easy to get out of.
Tim Reed
August 13, 2008
I have been lucky enough to play here 100's of times as a visitor, mostly in foursomes competitions. Whilst the general terrain may be flat the couse has endless subtle contours. If you sit in the clubhouse and look at the score card, you will pick out a number of holes, 1,10,15 and 17 that appear very simple. You can take a cricket score at any of them and they are the easy ones. I have played all of the top 10 and whilst there be some debate about links versus inland, this is a wonderful course. try it off the back tees and tell me if it is not worthy of its place then.
Andrew
October 05, 2008
You are either a very high handicapper that struggled all the way round, and because YOU had a bad round you think the course is bad, or, This is the first quality course you have played and have no idea what a good course is. to give it a three ball rating is nuts. Other readers don't believe him he does not know what he is talking about.
Andrew Harrison
This course is fantastic!!!Every hole is different, the bunkers are amazing, but soft sand will allow a good sand shot out.We kept waiting for a weak hole, ther is not one.It also happens to be the best value of the top courses in the UK never mind in the area.I have read somebody's review that slates this course, golfers are fickle, you score well you like the course, you score bad you don't, he must have had a stinker!!! Its great play it you will love it.
July 16, 2008
10 / 10
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Iain
I was a bit dissapointed with this course, whcih is billed as the best inland course in the UK. It is nowhere near as good as Gleneagles (any of the 3 courses), Blairgowrie, Sunningdale or Wentworth. It is a good layout, the condition was OK and it was an enjoyable round. I only played it because I happened to be in the area and even then it was tough to find the course. I would not travel here specifically just to play this course - there are countless better such as Saunton, Birkdale, Burnham & Berrow, Littlestone as well as the inland courses mentioned above.
May 14, 2008
6 / 10
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Gary
May 21, 2008
Best Courses are subjective to the individual... That said you are barmy!!! This is significantly better that any other course listed (and yes I have played them all), particularly more so than the overated & overpriced Gleneagles "Americanised" resort. That may only be my opinion but believe me it is the correct opinion!!!!
James
April 26, 2012
You are on glue if you think Saunton is anything like Woodhall Spa. Its very hard, maybe too difficult for most hackers. The course does cater for this by placing the yellows in kind positions most days of the year. It deserves its english, british and world ranking. Sadly it doesn't have the history of some of the famous names ie, the Belfry, Sunningdale and Wentworth. It is however better. The world rankings are political. Watch the top few courses over the coming years, they do circles and take turns on the top spot. Augusta is a prime example, anything from 1-6. Shinnecock Hills is the most amazing course and incredibly tough and is ranked 3, sometimes 4, sometimes 6. But the courses around it don't change and neither does Shinnecock. Woodhall Spa deserves its ranking and doesn't achieve it with cliff top views ie Pebble Beach, or the Climate of Augusta, its pure golf in an amazing setting. Yes the back nine is prettier, but thats only due to the tall pines, nothing to do with golf in a pure sense. St Andrews is an ugly course, does that mean its rubbish. I think not! However St Andrews is actually over rated and is carried purely but history. Woodhall Spa achieves its status on golfing merit. Ask Westwood and Garcia!
Keith Baxter
April 26, 2012
James, Your comments are interesting but also baffling. Specifically your assertion that the world rankings are political and the top world ranked courses circle for the No.1 spot. Since 2005, when this website first ranked the World Top 100, Pine Valley was our No.1 and it has never moved from top spot in four biennial ranking iterations. Perhaps you’d like to explain to me why you think the world rankings have anything to do with politics. Perhaps email me ([email protected]) rather than using the online facility. Thanks. Keith Baxter – Editor-in-Chief
Andrew Harrison
This course is fantastic.Although rated very high, if it was not the fact that Golf has its roots in links courses, I think this course would be rated even higher.Every hole is different, there is not one weak hole on the course. By far the best inland course in the UK. If you have not played it, it is worth making trip.
April 27, 2008
10 / 10
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Max Monroe
Another 5 star course, a must play before you die, an architectural masterpiece, they just need to cut back the trees and under growth off the fairways to make t more playable and enjoyable for all golfers. Besides, doing some trimming will create a lot more risk reward recovery shots. Very commercial and corporate, club house is nothing to mention, but the Hotchkin course deserves to be preserved for all time. The gorse, heather, ruggedness, super deep bunkers, and the designs of some excellent holes makes this place a golfers paradise. Yes, it is extremely hard but if only we had the option to play a quality course like this on a weekly basis... Thank you Mr. Hotchkins for what you gave to the game of golf.
February 10, 2008
10 / 10
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TR
February 12, 2008
Believe me they have cut a huge amount of Gorse and Heather out to make it more playable for ordinary golfers. you should have seen it before!!
mike christie
Played in june last year. my second visit and was very underwhelmed. both courses hotchkin and bracken seemed to have deteoriated in condition fairways and greens. this seems to be from overplay. layout is still great but compared to the Grove which on my revisit was a remarkable improvement and immaculate.
January 24, 2008
6 / 10
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kevan voce
January 26, 2008
The Grove > Woodhall Spa? Right. And Justin Rose is better than Tiger Woods. The Grove is for nouveau golfers who prefer talking about the clothing, golf clubs, the showers and the number of cars in the car park with ego plates. Woodhall spa is for proper golfers who have a sense of history and wouldn't be seen dead in company BMW.
mike
February 07, 2008
calm down kevan! i was just commenting on the overall quality of fairways and greens and as this website is rating the BEST 100 courses in the world it requires improvement.
Warren K
THE VERY BEST inland course in GB&I... Closely followed by Sunningdale, Hankley Common and Loch Lomond.
October 18, 2007
10 / 10
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SR1
The last review is a joke right?! No true golfer could even say "Brocket Hall" and "Woodhall Spa" in the same comparible breath! Thats like comparing Cypress Point with Hayling Island!! 2 Good courses, but come on man!! What defines Woodhall Spa is its test of golf, period! The design is sheer brilliance and way ahead of its time. Woodhall Spa is an awesome golf course and an awesome test of Golf and rightly ranked the 2nd best course in England, ahead of Sunningdale, Wentworth, and way way way ahead of Brocket Hall!
August 16, 2007
10 / 10
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Woodhall Fan
August 16, 2007
I've played Woburn - OK but has a manufactured feel - and any comparisons with Woodhall I don't even think are relevant, it's the old apples with oranges scenario.
faisal
It was certainly a good course with some party pieces, like the bunkers, but by no means is it superior to other inland courses. Sunningdale is better, Wentworth is better, Woburn is better, Brocket Hall is better. Anyway, the greens are treacherous and fast but the fairways leave much to be desired. Play it once, but its a long way to go.
July 17, 2007
8 / 10
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Chris Jones
July 17, 2007
For me your review is spot on, including the comparisons to the other courses.
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 11, 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?