Best Course You’ve Never Heard Of: Notts Golf Club, an inland treasure in England
Our knowledgeable crew of course-rating panelists have stuck pegs in the ground just about everywhere. Many of those courses you’ve probably know, but some are less renowned. In Best Course You’ve Never Heard Of, we celebrate those sneaky-good designs.
Nottinghamshire, in the Midlands of England, is better known for the legend of Robin Hood than it is for championship golf. But in Holinwell (Holy Well) resides Notts Golf Club, established in 1887 and home to a magnificent golf venue. While less heralded than many of England’s most renowned inland courses, it’s second to none of them.
Comfortably in my world top 50 ballot, this Willie Park Jr. creation has it all: a great site, enduring architecture and intelligent custodians. Today’s course dates to 1901 and, like many Park designs, had its bunkering added by J.H. Taylor a bit later. Design credit must also be given to the legendary, long-serving (1896 -1950) resident professional, Tom Williamson, who added the first three holes on new land in 1912, among other improvements.
While this may be Sherwood Forest country, the course is more gorse and fescue than trees; the soil is predominantly sand. It’s magnificently routed over tumbling land that’s punctuated with hillocks, dales and streams, all of which are utilized fully for both strategy off the tee and green-siting. It’s always been a big course — it can be played at 7,200-plus yards — and is capable of testing the best modern players. The holes are varied in both length and configuration to produce the proverbial “full test.”
Among my favorite holes are the intimidating, long uphill par-4 2nd, which demands an early burst of power; the visually stunning 240-yard downhill 13th; and the clever, short par-4 16th, with its vexing, perched green.
I encourage even the most discriminating, itinerant golfers to visit Notts, assured of a warm welcome and a satisfying round. And, don’t forget to sip from the Holy Well on the 8th hole.
Joe Andriole has been panelist since 2006 and has played 99 of the current World Top 100.