“When you turn into the entrance of Notts Golf Club your first thought is “this surely can’t be the way in”. After driving over farmland then through an avenue of pine trees you turn the corner and are suddenly greeted with a distant view of the white clubhouse; it is like entering into another world. You have discovered one of the best heathland courses in Britain.
I could go on to explain its history, the magical layout and design that tests every aspect of your game but the real joy is in the playing. Heathland turf, crisp and tight, the ideal texture for iron play combined with intriguing green complexes. All laid out on 400 acres, it somehow manages to combine grandeur with intimacy. Stand on the par 3, 13th tee and see what you think, you will not be disappointed. It’s a course that everyone will enjoy from the high handicapper to the scratch man. No club is better suited or prepared for staging prestigious events, it has everything.”
Every hole is different posing its own challenge and they are all wrapped up in a remote heathland mosaic away from any houses or roads. Double Open champion Willie Park Jnr used the natural contours of 400 acres of historic Nottinghamshire heathland to design Hollinwell, named after the natural spring ‘Holy Well’ which is tucked away alongside the eighth hole.
The natural terrain cuts a glorious swathe through the heart of legendary Robin Hood country. Gently undulating and fast running ground that can see you negotiating your ball around tight wooded hillsides on one hole, then through gorse and heather clad valleys on the next. With the towering Scots Pines overlooking proceedings it’s an inspiring setting for a golfing journey. From the 12th fairway there is a spectacular view over the county and Newstead Abbey, Lord Byron’s gothic home, with its tallest tower poking through the tree tops.
By the time you’ve reached an outstanding closing hole, long and downhill back to the clubhouse no one can fail to acknowledge the rich variety of holes here. A sweeping long second is an impressive early test, a wonderful looking dog-leg where you seem to walk forever before discovering a secretive green in the corner, set on a valley floor and flanked by a fern and heather clad bank. A probable three-shot strategy awaits the mid-high handicapper here, a sensible ploy to negate the threat of the many trouble spots you could realistically find yourself in. The second also marks a further historic spot, a rocky outcrop called Robin Hood’s Seat sits above the undulating green.
The opening trio take you neatly back to the clubhouse before you head off into the wilderness via the gateway that is a near links-like stroke index one long fourth, full of humps and bumps and patches of heather and gorse. The subsequent holes meander through ever-attractive wooded surrounds and if anywhere the back end of the front nine edges it as the most realistic scoring stretch. All that ends with a delightful but dangerous short ninth, the tee sheltered by the tall trees but there’s bunker trouble around the green for the less than accurate.
Memorable holes to discover during a back nine are once again is packed with contrast. The 11th has banks bordering a snake shaped fairway to a well-protected raised green. The wide-open 12th, the highest point, is very moorland looking and will suit the long hitter. The 15th poses a challenge with a bottleneck fairway and a good drive is needed to secure any chance of the second shot reaching an elevated green with a very examining putting surface. There’s a touch of risk and reward about an equally beautiful but potentially villainous 16th. A tight tee shot to the floor below, followed by a lofted approach to the raised putting surface, which is protected by its recently restructured bunkers, awaits anything that drops short. The renovation on the 16th uncovered a long slab of sandstone behind the green that the locals have nicknamed Marion’s bed. The penultimate hole is a reachable and simply stunning looking par five and the 18th is a tough test that will stretch the best golfer.
There’s a lovely feeling of splendid isolation about a round here, once you stride off down the first fairway and any golfing traffic around tends to lose itself amongst the sheer size of the place. With an SSS above par for all tee lengths this is the ultimate test of your game, one that will thoroughly examine every decimal point on your handicap. Yet if the elements are favourable and you can keep it on the short grass and master the nuances of the superb putting surfaces there is a score to be had, providing you stay true to your handicap and fully respect this wonderful challenge. Complete with an attractive look for each passing season there is always the guarantee of play all year round and they have some of the best playing winter greens to be found.
Hollinwell Heaven: 13th hole, 198 yards Par 3
Difficult to imagine a more breath-taking tee shot sight. From the raised tee it’s a glorious descent down the narrow gorse clad valley to a distant and exposed green with six bunkers dotted around. Club selection is naturally the key to success, it may look a club less from the tee but be watchful of the breezes around this hole which tend to behave very unpredictably. Daunting enough from the amateur pegs yet from the Open qualifying tees even higher up, this measures a frightening 241 yards.
The large and refurbished ground floor bar and dining area boast panoramic views of the golf course, welcoming members and visitors alike, and there’s a separate 80 seater dining room upstairs for group occasions and functions. Practice facilities include a driving range and a sizeable long game area adjacent to the course.
The club is classified as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation. The Official Ecologist to The R&A Championship Committee dealing with all ecological sensitivities on Open Championship Courses recently said “Notts Golf Club is one of the premier nature conservation sites within the UK, it is every bit a nature reserve as it is a golf course and indeed is well known for its nature conservation interests UK wide. The course lies within plantation woodland but is essentially heathland in character and this has been brought out by the on-going management that is provided by the greens staff on behalf of the club. This course is a prime exemplar and ambassador for best conservation management practice something that has evolved in line with experience and with regular close working with the local wildlife groups.”
Ecologically, Notts GC is a market leader in the Midlands, course manager Phil Stain has recently been nominated for the Golf Environmental Award for the third year running.
NOTTS GC (HOLLINWELL) FOURBALL WINTER WARMER DEAL
£180 PER FOURBALL – 18 HOLES PLUS EITHER BACON ROLL & COFFEE ON ARRIVAL OR SOUP AND SANDWICHES AFTER PLAY.
LIMITED AVAILABILITY – NOVEMBER TO MARCH TEE TIMES
Tel : 01623 753225 email – email@example.com