The Hotchin Course at Woodhall Spa came into being in 1905 when S.V. Hotchin donated a sandy tract of land , and Harry Vardon was commissioned to build the course.
J.H. Taylor advised on the placement of bunkers prior to the course opening .
In 1911 Harry Colt was employed to redesign the course and took 3 years to do so - his routing remains unchanged to this day .
Then in 1919 in difficult economic conditions S.V.Hotchin agreed to take over the running of the course , eventually developing a significant interest in golf course architecture , and over the rest of his life he remodelled many of the holes at Woodhall Spa , moving greens and tees , and hazard locations .
When he died in 1953 , his son Neil took over the operations of the course until he sold it to the English Golf Union in 1995
More recently Tom Doak undertook a significant renovation of the course, clearing out the trees increasingly encroaching on the playing corridors, bring the native heather back into focus, and tidying up the bunkers and making them more playable.
The course has never lloked so good!
Woodhall Spa is heathland golf at it's best!
With a rolling sandy base, large cavernous bunkers, and glorious expanses of heather dominating the landscape, Woodhall Spa is really something special.
The front nine has a little more natural movement, and it is here that the bunkers are their most impressive.
They are massive, deep and beautifully framed by the heather.
This nine compares well with the best inland courses around the world.
The back nine is subtly different.
There is less natural movement in the terrain, and the carries off the tee tend to be a little longer and less visual.
Lines of play are less obvious to the first time player..
The bunkering is not as deep and not always framed by the heather. But there are no weak holes. The carries off the tee are consistantly challenging (especially for the ladies), and a number of the approaches require longish carries as well.
Woodhall Spa was right at the top of my hit list for courses I wanted to study when I started planning this trip to England , and it didn't disappoint . If I were to build a course myself it might have a lot in common with Woodhall Spa!
Whilst not as strategic as Lytham nevertheless the placement of the bunkers , and their depth certainly make you think on where to place each tee shot
It's an easy almost level walk , but there is plenty of movement all around you each hole with many large and striking bunkers , depressions , bumps , gorse , heather etc .
Many of the holes require a solid carry over heather and / or bunkers to find the fairway
I was given the opportunity to play off a back tee today , and got to see more of the course than most , including a few of those deep bunkers . And they are deep - green side bunkers so deep you cannot see the sky...
Unfortunately the recent heatwave has burned off the heather and the fairways are hard and fast - harder than they perhaps should be given there are so many hazards
I sure would like to see this place in Autumn when the heather and gorse are in colour and the fairways a little softer
I reckon I could learn a lot by playing this course again , and again....
Notable holes include:
- hole 2, a long strong par 4. This is when the grandeur of Woodhall kicks in. The heather is everywhere, and the bunkers are huge and cavernous.(see pic mid page)
- hole 3, another memorable par 4. The old castle backdrop is classic!
- hole 4, a slightly shorter par 4, heading back toward the clubhouse. The greenside bunkering is deep and threatening, but it's a world class hole.
- hole 5, the best par 3 on the course. The slightly offset green is surrounded by 6 deep bunkers in a sea of heather.
- hole 11, a long par 4 through the trees with a long carry over sand and heather for the approach
- hole 12, a par 3 protected by 10 bunkers and heather everywhere
- hole 17, a short par 4, with a big carry over heather off the tee. It's hard to see the line off the tee, but hitting the fairway is vital..
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