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Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort Feature Review

By: Robert Treanor | Mon 14 Oct 2019

Review by Golfshake Ambassador Rob Treanor, September 2019

Bowood was ranked in the Golfshake top 50 courses of 2018 based on independent member reviews and is regularly cited as one of the top stay and play venues in the UK. The venue boasts one of the finest courses not just in the South West, but nationally. Golfshake Ambassador Rob Treanor went to explore the resort and report on its winning formula.

The shining star in the Bowood crown is the par 72 PGA championship course, designed by Dave Thomas. The course opened in 1992 and now serves as the PGA Academy for the South West, hosting the final of the English PGA Championship in 2019. Anchored in the expansive Bowood Estate, the course sits alongside a magnificent hotel and spa, as well as the historic Bowood House, all of which has remained under the same family ownership for hundreds of years.

Pre-Round Thoughts

Entering the Bowood Estate through the enormous historic gates is the start of a very special experience. The winding drive which leads to the hotel and golf facilities reveals brief glimpses of the lush course through the wooded landscape. As befitting a PGA Academy venue there is a large, floodlit driving range, chipping and putting areas and even a tempting three-hole short course.

Given these fantastic facilities, there is no excuse for not warming up well! From the moment of arrival, the club has an impressive feel of quality and self-assuredness which builds a sense of anticipation about what lies ahead on the course. The club has around 450 members, though given its host venue status, caters very well for visitors as evidenced by the tremendous feedback from Golfshake reviews.

Front 9 Overview

A superbly designed course, there are no weak holes at Bowood. The opener is a typically strong par 5 which requires a combination of strength and guile. At 577 yards it is no pushover. Most will need to use their third stroke to fly the ball all the way to the two-tiered green in order to avoid the bunkers which defend its front. A par here is well earned.

The 6th is world class. This memorable hole begins with a downhill tee shot framed by wonderful mature woodland to a welcoming fairway before turning sharply right. A unique splash pool sits proudly in the fairway next to a magnificent oak tree, obstacles which the thinking golfer will negotiate with the second rather than the opening stroke! The undulating fairway then creeps uphill to a multi-tiered green with bunkers short and right. A breathtaking hole to play, this strong par 5 provides equal measures of beauty, enjoyment and interest.

The pace continues on the 7th, where a demanding tee shot over low ground requires the combination of distance and accuracy to find a good view of the green. The hole shifts left before descending downhill to the green which is framed by mature woodland. Missing long is not really an option so it may be wise to pitch for the apron and run down to the heart of the green which continues to slope from front to back.

Thomas ensures the front nine finishes in memorable style with an outstanding hole which has plenty of opportunity for drama! Originally the 18th until the nines were switched around a few years ago, the drive on this short par 4 is played towards water in the distance before dog legging right. Bunkers protect the fairway either side of the landing zone, though bigger hitters may bring the water into play if attempting to cut the corner. The approach shot is as picturesque as they come; played to a raised, two-tiered green with water left, bunkers seemingly all around and the clubhouse behind. A really good quality golf hole which captures what Bowood is all about.

Back 9 Overview

The back to back par 5s at 12 and 13 are both really serious holes. The latter appears fairly tight from the tee as the hole twists past bunkers and mounds which disguise the fairway before it opens up again. Big hitters may be able to reach in two, though the large lake which runs alongside the final third of the fairway serves as severe punishment for anything less than perfect. Progress to the left of the water can continue to be made for a less daunting approach, though a large bunker to the left of the green ensures this is not a fool proof option. The large, two-tiered green completes the challenge on what is an excellent par 5.

The 17th opens with a dramatic downhill drive which will require a long club to carry the ditch. The hole passes by Queenwood Lodge after which it turns left before the second shot is played downhill to an imposingly small target. The double tiered green has a bank to the right from where balls will bounce forgivingly towards the flag, making this a good bail out (or even aiming) spot!

The 18th fairway is framed by mounds with wispy rough on both sides, giving it an almost links style appeal from the tee. The hole plays back towards the clubhouse and is defended by good bunkering on the fairway and at the greenside. A good drive which slightly cuts the corner will set up a shorter approach which, characteristically for Bowood, will need to carry all the way to the multi layered green.

Post-Round Thoughts

Bowood is a progressive, forward thinking establishment which provides golfers with a top-quality experience. The club has a course with 18 strong holes which it complements with best in class facilities. The setting within the estate is secluded, calming and serene, with the mature woodland breaking to give uninterrupted views over the glorious Wiltshire Downs.

This modern, contemporary club is free of the constraints of traditional clubs due to its ownership structure. There aren’t dozens of committees to ratify decision making, the club simply gets on with it. The visitor experience is five stars, in keeping with the club’s outstanding feedback from Golfshake members.


This is a club which experiments, improves and gets better. This spirit of continuous improvement has resulted in a modern marvel. When Bowood does something, it does it properly, to the very highest standards.

When planning your next golf trip, do it properly… visit Bowood.

Top Tips

  • Pick the right tees for your game- remember golf is supposed to be fun!
  • Make use of the outstanding academy facilities to give yourself the best chance of success.
  • The food and service are excellent so stay for food at the very least, if not overnight.

Overall Rating - 9

Course (Conditions) - 10

Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 9

Course (Green Condition) - 10

Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 10

Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 9

Practice Facilities - 9

Friendliness/Hospitality - 10

Pace of Play - 9

Value for Money - 9

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