Notts Golf Club
Twelfth hole, 475 yards; The club best described this hole in its centenary pamphlet: ‘The worst or the best hole on the course is perhaps the 12th – according to the wind. Wind against – a great hole; wind behind – well, we cannot have it both ways.’ The hole plays along a high ridge and, approximately 170 yards from the green, the fairway drops off and to the left sharply, leaving the player who drives it there an awkward blind shot from a sloping stance. Yet, from around the 185 yard mark, the approach is one of the most fun shots on the course with the player using the high ground to the right of the green as a way to bank his approach onto the putting surface.
Thirteenth hole, 240 yards; Notts is best known for this dramatic, downhill par three, which surely rivals the thirteenth at The Addington as the best long one shotter in inland British golf. Justly famous, this hole owes its creation to Williamson. The son of the station master at Bulwell Forest, Tom started caddying at age seven at the original Burwell site for Notts in the late 1880s. It says a lot about both Notts and Williamson that each found the others company satisfactory for over half a century! Since the distance on the thirteenth is quite taxing, especially exposed to the wind, Williamson gave the player enough room short and right of the green. However, this ‘safety’ zone cannot be believed until after several rounds as that area is largely hidden from the tee, partly by trees and partly by gorse. In difficult conditions, the player who is playing conservatively, therefore, will have to fire his tee shot off toward what looks to be most unfriendly country. Much more than just a pretty hole.
Fifteenth hole, 440 yards; The favorite hole of some, this brute would be at home at Royal County Down. The narrow green with its 17 yard wide entrance is cruelly one of the smallest on the course and is set against and surrounded by what looks suspiciously like gorse-covered sand dunes. In fact, the player expects that he would catch a glimpse of the sea if he scaled them, only to be reminded by his friend that they are about as far removed from the sea as any spot in England.
Sixteenth hole, 355 yards; From another elevated and exposed tee, the player plays down and (perhaps) to the right. This can be a fearsome proposition into the wind as there is nearly a 200 yard carry to the fairway. The green is quite wide but shallow (20 yards) and is perched atop a fearsome bunker. (There is also a wall of gorse behind the green that provides for more than just scenery – have you ever thinned a wedge from the fairway?) The front left of the green features the most slope of any putting surface on the course, befitting a hole of this length. The hole’s beauty lies in how each golfer is free to determine for himself the best way to play it.
Eighteenth hole, 460 yards; Though many of the par fours play gradually up some sort of slope, both the sixteenth and eighteenth feature intoxicatingly attractive downhill views and tee shots. The clubhouse with its chimneys and warm glow emanating from within makes for an attractive backdrop.
Two characteristics that Notts possesses that some other inland gems do not are length and difficulty. While such factors are not prerequisites for top courses, having them has never hurt a course. The inland courses of England seem to fall into two groups – the courses near London and the few top-notch ones that are scattered throughout the country (e.g., Woodhall Spa and Ganton). Notts has advantages over both. It possesses the length that several of the top London courses lack; it finishes well, unlike Woodhall Spa; and it has the variety that some of the courses, such as Ganton, lack. Even though it has twelve par fours, the variety in length, topography, shape, setting and pacing of the two-shotters at Notts holds the player’s interest so that he would never complain ‘Not another par four!’ People should beat a path to this course – it has it all.