After a reasonable nights sleep (in separate beds after our room was initially booked as a double!) we departed Sandwich in misty rain for the 4 hour trek north to Woodhall Spa.
This weekend is The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration and the whole country is excited. English flags line the roadways and hang from the telegraph poles on the main streets – all in memory of the Queen’s 60 years as the reigning monarch.
We were actually invited to be on the Queen’s barge on the Thames but had to turn this kind offer down due to a pressing tee time at Woodhall Spa. It is not every day you get to play the one of the finest inland golf courses in the UK!
Woodhall Spa is renowned for two things – its pensioners and golf. A large pensioner population ensures the local chiropractor and chemist are kept busy although David also gave the chemist business with his blister issues on his left foot.
As we sit in the local pub “The Mall” sampling the best of English cuisine (David – Beef Stroganoff, Gary – Chicken Calypso) we are dumbfounded by the country’s obsessions with peas… Every food order comes with peas which would be ok if it were with steak and veggies but you have to draw the line when the strawberry crepes comes with a side order of peas!
But back to the golf. Woodhall Spa is the home of the English Golf Union and also two 18 hole golf courses – the Hotchkin and the Bracken.
The Hotchkin is rated in the top 50 courses in the world so we were both excited to be playing this course. And we were not disappointed. It is the kind of golf course you could play every day and not be bored. It presents different challenges depending on wind conditions and where you are hitting the ball.
But make sure you don’t hit into one of the hundred or so bunkers. These bunkers are deep! It often takes more than one shot to extricate yourself from the sand and the escape route is often sideways or backwards. The Australian bravado ensured we went straight for the pin in ALL cases and paid the price (both of us had multiple bunker shots from the same bunker).
The landing areas off the tee are generally tight and the fear of landing in a fairway bunker is part of your thinking the whole way round. Longer hitters are faced with narrower landing areas – a sound design characteristic that provided defence for the course with today’s technology.
Woodhall Spa is most enjoyable to walk and laid out over relatively flat terrain. The layout is peppered with heather, bunkers, grassy hollows and trees all of which combine to force you to hit precise shots to score well.
If you are even in this part of England this is a must stop on your golfing calendar.
Shot of the day – Has to go to Gary’s second birdie on 16 – a putt of 20 feet which never looked like missing. Combined with his birdie the previous hole it was a good close to the round.
Dave’s three lipouts and a near chip in which hit the flagstick left him with no birdies to add to his tally.
Overall Birdie Tally
David (0 birdies, cumulative 5)
Gary (2 birdies, cumulative 10)
Another big drive tomorrow morning but an exciting round ahead at an Open venue – Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) with a mate of ours Jim Saunders. Stay tuned.