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: 101
TaylorMade
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?
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 11, 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 21, 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 20, 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 13, 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 08, 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 15, 2006
10 / 10
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