“WHY I WANT TO OPEN UP THE HOTCHKIN”

GW Ar­chi­tect Tom Doak tells of his plans for Wood­hall Spa.

Golf World (UK) - - The Spin -

You first vis­ited the club dur­ing your gap year. Did that give you an af­fec­tion for the Hotchkin? That’s when I got to know the golf course and re­ally like it. I was in St An­drews and I wrote a let­ter to the sec­re­tary ask­ing if it would it be pos­si­ble to vist. I got a let­ter back from (his son) Neil Hotchkin! That set it apart right away – that the fam­ily still owned it and he was still very ac­tive here.

What did you en­joy about the course back then? Ob­vi­ously, the thing that sets it apart are the bunkers – and how deep and nasty they are. They are un­ex­pected be­cause you drive 40 miles in any di­rec­tion and it is so flat. Plus the fact it is so re­mote and that Hotchkin has done rel­a­tively lit­tle work else­where.

You in­cluded the 18th hole in your book The Anatomy of a Golf Course. Why do you like it so much? It’s in the book be­cause of a gi­ant oak tree that is not there any more! It died about 10 years ago. While it’s been re­placed, it will be 30 years be­fore we have any­thing like the same ef­fect on play. We are here for three years, start­ing at the far end of the course, so we re­ally haven’t stud­ied what we will do with it. It was a favourite and I hope we won’t be chang­ing it too much.

What do you hope to achieve ? The bunkers are so deep they are

hard to main­tain. That gets worse over time as more rounds are played. That com­bi­na­tion of traf­fic and the amount of sand peo­ple hit up on the face of the bunker dam­ages them. Mak­ing them main­tain­able with­out mak­ing them any less fear­some is the key. We are also clear­ing a lot of trees and gorse, and en­cour­ag­ing more heather. The front nine used to be a lot more open. There may still be trees in the back­ground, but it will be a lot more open.

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