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Tom Doak Woodhall Spa

Exclusive: Architect Tom Doak on the restoration of Woodhall Spa

One of the world’s most renowned architects is currently carrying out a restoration of the Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa. We sat down with him
 

 

Tom Doak Woodhall Spa restoration – continues below

Any other back tees?

No. I’m sure once we get some of the heath opened up there’s places that they could make holes longer if they really wanted to but that’s not part of what I’ve been asked to do and that’s not the first thing I look for.

This is a pretty strong golf course from the back tee now and some of the holes where you might have a chance to go back with the tee they really can’t go back much further unless they extend the fairway back towards it because the carries are too much – I mean there are 220 and 230-yard carries off the back tees now.

 

What’s your view on the 18th here that has different pars off different tees?

When I came here in the 80s there were actually three holes here like that – a par 5 if you played all the way back and a par 4 from the normal white tees. I haven’t even looked at the card to see what par says now.

I’ve looked at 18 less because we won’t do our work there until the last phase so it’s two years out. I’ve spent more of my time on the holes we’re doing now and starting to figure out the next batch for next year.

The first time I saw the 18th hole I loved it. The only thing that’s changed about it really is that there was a giant oak tree on the right that went away and now there’s this very small oak that’s replaced it. That’s the curse of designing holes around trees – they don’t live forever.

That doesn’t mean you never design a hole around the tree when there’s a giant beautiful oak – you take it for as long as you can and then try to figure out something after it goes away.

We might have a little more scope to do something different there because of that.

And also, 18 and 1 are pretty close together and then the only place they have a boundary issue here at all is to the right of No 1. There are a couple of house and you don’t want to see balls going into their back yards so I’m trying to get the fairway oriented a little more to the left and that might impact the 18th too.

 

Tom Doak Woodhall Spa restoration – continues below

Is it endearingly British to have a hole with two different pars?

I’m probably similar to Hotchkin in this respect. He did it two or three times on this golf course. I don’t worry too much about what par is.

For the guys that are practising here that play on the England team, anything under 600 yards is a par 4 and they’re thinking of getting to it in two.

And for us, whether we call it a par 4 or a par 5 doesn’t really make a whole lot of difference.

I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on that or think I have to make the hole 50 yards longer because it’s a par 5 or I have to tighten up the green because I’m thinking of third shots going in there as opposed to second shots.

 

• The Hotchkin course is remaining open this winter while the work continues. Go to woodhallspagolf.com to learn more

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Dan Murphy

Dan Murphy

Dan loves links golf, which doesn't mean he is very good at it. He is a four-handicapper at Alwoodley. A qualified journalist and senior editor with 25 years’ experience, he was the long-time editor of NCG. His passion is golf courses and he is the founding editor of NCG Top 100s course rankings. He loves nothing more than discovering and highlighting courses that are worthy of greater recognition.

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