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Woodhall Spa Tour Day 1 - The Bracken Course

We had wanted to take our Tour to Woodhall Spa for some time. It’s the Home of English Golf and has, in the Hotchkin course, one of the finest inland courses in the UK. And we did find out on arrival that this course also has the second highest slope rating in the country – behind only Carnoustie. So it was going to be extremely challenging for many of us. The second course at Woodhall Spa – the Bracken – is not as hard, although it still has an above average slope. We decided to play the Bracken course first – as a warm up round.

Day 1 of Woodhall Spa Tour, Tuesday 16 May 2023 – The Bracken Course

We turned up to play at Woodhall Spa around midday on a pleasant weather day – much better than had been predicted, even a few days before, so we were lucky. There were 23 players in all today, including two guests – my friend, Peter Galpin and Andrew Coombs, John’s son. We all met in the Clubhouse for the usual tea / coffee and bacon rolls. The tee offs were from 1.00 pm. We had 22 players playing in a blind Pairs Stableford competition. The Pairs were drawn in the evening – with the two Stableford scores simply being added together. We also had an Individual Stableford top score prize.

The course was generally in good condition – but this newer course is on clay and a bit wet in places (after recent heavy rains). However the greens were in excellent condition, albeit usually large and often undulating – and quite tricky.

The two highest scoring drawn pairs so in equal first place were Harry Coe / Stuart Lester and Matt Hignell /

Graham May. Both had a combined 59 points. But as there could only be one Pairs combination as prize winners – so the Captain had to re-draw between the pairs with Harry and Stuart being then declared winners.

The highest Individual was Martin Dinkele who scored 34 points. Possibly we might have expected higher from someone on the day. But it probably showed that even this course is difficult – especially playing it for the first time.

We also played Nearest the Pins on all of the Par 3s – and these were all interesting holes. The winners were:

5th hole Peter Galpin

7th hole Matt Hignell

11th hole Andrew Garden

16th hole Andrew Coombs

Tuesday Evening

 After a quick beer in the Clubhouse, we travelled to our very nearby accommodation at the Inn at Woodhall Spa. And this hotel was very good. The staff were extremely friendly and welcoming – and we were all quickly checked in to our rooms for a quick shower, before coming downstairs again to the hotel bar. We had an excellent meal: a brilliant and rather different prawn cocktail starter (with some Pinot Grigio), followed by a wholesome main course carvery roast plus vegetables (washed down by a Merlot). Dessert was a lemon posset plus raspberries dessert followed by coffee. Just what a group of hungry golfers needed – and one of the best Tour hotel meals that we’ve ever had!

We talked about the next day’s golfing arrangements. Most then adjourned to the bar for a while – before turning in for the night.

See separate Match Report for Day 2

Mike Hamment, Tour Organiser

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