The Takeaway: Featuring some of the biggest and deepest bunkers you'll ever find, the Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa is a challenging and impressive inland course that stands among the country's Top 10 tracks. Grade A-
Designer: Harry Vardon 1905 (Harry Colt 1911, S.V. Hotchkin 1920s)
Cost: £65 - £125 Click for current rates
Phone Number: +44 1526 352511
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Woodhall Spa Golf Club (Hotchkin)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - The Broadway, Woodhall Spa, LN10 6PU – UNITED KINGDOM
What to Expect: Often in the discussion among the best inland courses in England, the Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa is an excellent track that is maintained in pristine shape. The feature that stands out most is the size and depth of the cavernous bunkers; few courses rival these sand pits that players will inevitably visit sometime during their round. The variety of trees and relatively tame terrain is reminiscent of Kingston Heath and Metropolitan found on Melbourne's famed sandbelt, and the fairways have a bit more sponge to them compared to coastal links tracks. Heather lines many of the fairways and can result in a decent lie, terribly lie, or a lost ball all together. After being a congested layout framed thick with trees, Tom Doak opened up the layout to give the course more breathing space, superior driving lines, and an overall better experience. As is common with most courses in the UK, players will be required to walk but can rent a trolley to help tote their clubs around. You'll also find people crossing through the course at random times as they stroll along the public paths found on the course. Certainly one of the most challenging courses in England, it also stands worthy of making the effort to get to this course that is off the beaten path compared to the other top tier courses in Britain.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 12th Hole – 170 Yard Par 3 – The hole that gets talked about more than any other on the course, the par three 12th is a high quality one-shotter that plays tougher than meets the eye. The hole plays more uphill than meets the eye which can cause players to under club more often than not. The cavernous bunker on the left might as well have a headstone placed on top as double bogies are often the final result of balls that end up here. When the wind is up it can be plenty challenging getting your club selection right as balls tend to balloon if not compressed with proper trajectory. Pars and birdies here are extremely rewarding.
Best Par 3: 5th Hole – 142 Yards – By far the wildest green on the course, the short 5th features massive slopes that can be your best friend or your worst enemy depending on the day's pin placement and where you leave your tee shot. The putting surface is plenty big for a hole of this distance so there is little reason to miss the green in regulation, but it will test your flatstick skills in a hurry.
Best Par 4: 17th Hole – 331 Yards – A short hole that tests players' discipline off the tee, an iron off the tee will almost assuredly result in finding the fairway while driver plays up closer to the green with the landing area narrows and bunkers come into play. The green opens up with the best angle from the right side if players are willing to flirt with the trees on that line, while an approach from the left will require a carry over a large bunker to a green that is angled from the player. If you can drive it far and accurately enough then the angle won't matter much with a flip wedge into the green, but getting off line can make things precarious quickly.
Best Par 5: 18th Hole – 534 Yards – The final hole at Woodhall Spa presents an interesting and engaging challenge to finish on. Bunkers line both sides of the fairway and demand that players hit an accurate drive if they want a chance to reach the green in two. The shape of the hole features a gentle and consistent bend to the right with the fairway finishing at a green that features a tree on the left and bunker on the right. Players that have their fade working will benefit on both the tee shot and approach shot, but doing whatever it takes to stay out of the numerous bunkers is the best recipe for success.
Birdie Time: 10th Hole – 340 Yard Par 4 – The back nine kicks things off with an instant birdie opportunity on this short par four. A wide and inviting fairway greets the player and rewards the one that can hit a nice fade off the tee to follow the gentle bend in the short grass. The green slopes from front to back so it is best to bring your approach shot in a few yards short of ideal and let the ball trickle towards the hole. Be aggressive here, you'll need the insurance stroke for later.
Bogey Beware: 7th Hole – 469 Yard Par 4 – A strong hole that doglegs to the right, the 7th at Woodhall Spa's Hotchkin course tests the best of players. A trio of bunkers protects the inside of the dogleg while the outside of the hole features a line of trees hugging the short grass. The further left you go, the worse your angle into the green gets which presents a strategic situation on how aggressive players want to be with their line off the tee. The approach shot features a bunker on the left and an opening at the front right, so a draw that starts on the right and works back over the opening is ideal, but difficult to execute. There are plenty of tough holes at Woodhall, and success is given to those who manage them best.