“WHY I WANT TO OPEN UP THE HOTCHKIN”
GW Architect Tom Doak tells of his plans for Woodhall Spa.
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.