The Hotchkin is a classic, heather-lined heathland loyout where a premium is placed on accurate ball striking

Woodhall Spa Golf Club Hotchkin Course Review

Green Fee Range: £55 – £110

Medal Tee: Par 73 – 6,925 Yards

Visitor Times: Every day, subject to availability

Website: www.woodhallspagolf.com

Woodhall Spa Golf Club Hotchkin Course Review

Among our inland courses, only Sunningdale Old and New eclipse this respected heathland layout.

This year’s rise reflects the successful first two phases of a major Tom Doak renovation, with 12 holes completed so far.

Woodhall Spa Golf Club Hotchkin Course Review

Much tree, shrub and gorse removal has sought to rejuvenate the heathland characteristics, while bunkers have been returned to their original style, with a number of previously discarded ones re-introduced to fulfil their strategic purpose once more.

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With the final phase set to be completed ahead of the 2019 golfing season, the Hotchkin could well rise further next time round.

Ask any golfer who’s played the famous Hotchkin course what they most remember, and there’s a fair chance that they’ll instantly fire back, “The bunkers!”

Woodhall Spa Golf Club Hotchkin Course Review

Yet while they are indeed among the most visually attractive, strategically magnificent and deepest in the land, this heathland layout in the Lincolnshire spa town is about much more than just its hazards.

The club dates back to 1891, but the first two nine-hole layouts both ceded to residential expansion as the spa town flourished, and it wasn’t until 1905 that the club moved to its present Harry Vardon-designed Horncastle Road site.

JH Taylor was enlisted to help with the bunker placement, with Harry Colt then redesigning the layout in 1914.

Woodhall Spa Golf Club Hotchkin Course Review

What we are left with is one of the UK’s very finest inland courses, with many holes playing over relatively open heathland, and others, especially on the back nine, venturing in among the trees a little more.

There are doglegs, heather and pines at nearly every turn, but the real key to scoring is to avoid the deepest of the traps, nowhere more so than on the modest par-3 5th, where first-timers have the slight mental advantage of not knowing just how crucial it is to hit the target.

There are many, many good holes, but the long par-3 8th to an elevated green sets up particularly magnificently from the tee.

Woodhall Spa is famous for its wildlife and it’s quite possibly to encounter squirrel, partridge and pheasant during a round.

The Hotchkin may be a little off the beaten track, but those who make the effort will not be disappointed.

Course changes since previous ranking

Phases 1 and 2 of the Hotchkin Course Renovation Programme has been completed. This has included a complete renovation of holes 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 , 13, 14, 16 and 17 (12 holes). All bunkers have been renovated and brought back to their original style. Many old bunkers have been re-opened so that the original philosophy of playing the course is rekindled. Significant tree, gorse and shrub removal has also taken place in an attempt to rejuvenate the heathland, which has been reducing in certain areas of the site. Some new tees have been put in but none have affected the length of the course.

Proposed course changes

Phase 3 of the Hotchkin Course Renovation Programme will be completed over the winter of 2018/19 – holes 1, 2, 3, 4, 15 and 18 will be renovated as above. By the spring of 2019 this renovation programme will be completed. Work over the next 5 years starting in 2020 will be some tee renovation work, path restoration and the removal of tree stumps, etc resulting from the main programme.

Golf Monthly Verdict

Doak is clearly conducting a very fine renovation of an already top course. The Hotchkin is a testing and long heathland course that demands strong hitting