Old Thorns Golf Club
- Par 72
- 6461 Yds
Located in the rolling hills of north Hampshire, Old Thorns is home to a fantastic course and a superb hotel.
Designed by Peter Alliss, and launched by an exhibition match between Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Isao Aoki and the reigning Open champion Bill Rogers in 1982, the par-72 track features gaping bunkers, tight, tree-lined tee shots and lots of water. The sloping greens are fast and difficult to read.
The course starts brightly, with a lovely run of three holes from the 3rd. The 3rd and 5th are described on the right while the 4th – a short, uphill par 3 with a two-tier, narrow green set in a tunnel of trees – is top class.
The resort has undergone millions of pounds of renovations since it was acquired by the Shaw family in 2007, including a new 52-bedroom block, which brings the total number of rooms to 86. There are plans to add another 70 rooms to the main hotel.
Other new features include a swanky champagne and cocktail bar, a relaxed pub-style sports bar, which broadcasts 3D live sport, and the Kings restaurant – a contemporary English eatery with a carvery.
Later this year a large health club, with saunas, a pool and a gym, as well as 16 treatment rooms, will also open.
The par-72 track features gaping bunkers, tight, tree-lined tee shots and lots of water. The sloping greens are fast and difficult to read.
3rd, par 4, 440 yards
Probably the strongest hole. A classy par 4 played to a narrow fairway, it demands great accuracy and, in a favourable wind, allows you to maximise your distance by trying to take your ball down the large hill 100 yards short of the green.
The green is protected by bunkers and is on the small side so demands a good iron shot to hold. Into the wind a real monster.
5th, par 4, 357 yards
The signature hole, this short par 4 plays down a large hill and is stunning to look at – as well as being difficult to know how to play.
If you are really long and brave you can take the green on (only when downwind) but it is often more sensible to hold back a little and hit either a fairway wood or hybrid down the throat of the fairway and pitch on from 80 yards. Miss left or right and your chances of a three are zero.
16th, par 3, 160 yards
Not the prettiest hole on the course but a very interesting one. Although it is rarely more than a short iron into what is a large green, there is potential to mess up. Both the tee and green are elevated so anything long, short or left is a difficult up and down.
And with several large sloping undulations, the hard work starts when you get on the green.