Woodhall Spa Bracken Course Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook, July 2019
Woodhall Spa Golf Club - the home of England Golf - is a sublime venue situated within the heart of Lincolnshire. Designed by Donald Steel, the Bracken Course was opened in 1998 after three years of work and was given its name after the woodland area it was constructed in. The idea of the design was to offer golfers a different test to the renowned Hotchkin Course, which is widely considered to be one of the finest inland courses in the UK.
Having played the Hotchkin in the morning during my visit, expectations weren't as high for the Bracken in the afternoon, as I didn't expect the experience to be as gratifying as it turned out to be.
Front 9 Overview
The highlight of the front nine was the par five 4th. An entertaining risk and reward hole that was extremely well thought out by Steel in his design. Following your tee shot you have a decision to lay-up but avoiding the water - but leaving a longer third shot, or taking on the water and cutting the corner slightly - but this will need to be precise! Another enjoyable hole was the short par four 8th. Measuring just 314 yards from the championship tee with the river crossing the fairway halfway down and then again short of the green, picking your spot from the tee is absolutely critical and another potential rewarding hole for the brave among you.
Back 9 Overview
The equally challenging back nine starts as the front did, with a 400 yarder with trees to avoid up the right-hand side! Navigate that and the par three next and then you'll have great scoring chances at the 12th and 13th. The 12th has water running up the right and very well-placed fairway bunkers on the left - avoiding those will leave a great chance to pick up a shot. Similar to the 12th, the 13th has an assembly of bunkers in the middle of the fairway right in landing zone. Again, avoid these and a score could well be on the card. Final word for the back goes to the par three 16th. At only 163 yards from the championship tees, the stroke index of 4 may raise some eyebrows. At just 30 yards deep, the long but thin undulating green is a difficult target with waterfront, right and back, and well as a small bunker to avoid a three here will have you running to the next tee.
My immediate reaction was at just how much I had enjoyed playing the Bracken course. Before the round I had wondered if it may have been a slight come down from the Hotchkin, but how mistaken was I. The course is in pristine condition with nicely cut fairways, true slick greens and penal but fair rough. Yes, I think its the easier of the two courses to play, but it offers up a vastly different assessment of your ability. Wider, more forgiving fairways but a lot of water to navigate. But how refreshing it is to find a venue with two compactly contrasting golf courses yet both offering up such a enjoyable challenge.
There is a reason why Woodhall Spa is so revered.
Overall Rating - 10
Course (Conditions) - 10
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 10
Course (Green Condition) - 10
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 9
Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 10
Practice Facilities - 10
Friendliness/Hospitality - 10
Pace of Play - 10
Value for Money - 10
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