Welcome return of Woodham

Alan Hedley pays a visit to a course which is thriving again under new owners who have invested wisely

The course at Woodham is among the best tests of golf in the North. Plenty of water, strong par fives, good par fours and terrific par threes including the signature 17th, go to making an excellent 6,671-yard layout. No surprise then that it’s up and running again with new owners investing heavily in both the course and clubhouse. Wisely, there have been no major changes to the course – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it – but a comprehensive programme of work has been carried out by Woodham Golf and Leisure Ltd since they bought it in July.

Major drainage work plus tidying up of copses, bushes and shrubs has made a huge difference while the clubhouse has seen a top-notch refurbishment with a completely new ladies locker room and an extensive patio area created.

A special camera was used to supervise work on nearly 2,000 metres of drainage while the greens have been sand-injected to revive a course opened in 1981 and designed by the highly-respected J Hamilton Stutt.

It has always been a quality layout, as shown by the opening par five with out of bounds on the left. It can be reached in two but the green is well protected by bunkers.Beware the bunkers and the water at the second and, if you are a big hitter, the same applies to the third where a stream runs along the right side.

The fourth is the first of the short holes and is possibly the most straightforward, but it still needs an accurate tee shot. A long par five dog-leg follows where accuracy is even more essential.Another dog-leg follows but not as severe and while it’s not a long hole, it’s nevertheless challenging and it might not be a driver at what is lovely hole. Another shortish dog-leg follows and big hitters could be really tempted here.

Meanwhile, lots of bunkering has to be negotiated at the short eighth.

Don’t be fooled by the relative shortness of the ninth, another dog-leg right with a green surrounded by bunkers and those at the front are very deep.

The start of the back nine isn’t a long par five but it is a challenging one and you must be straight to have a chance of getting up in two for birdie or better. A left to right dog-leg, the long par four 11th features a very undulating green and the short 12th might look fairly routine but the two-tier green is well bunkered with out of bounds to the left and rear.

Then it’s the start of Woodham’s Amen Corner. The 13th boasts a blind tee shot, water and trees as does the 14th with the approach over a lake and the 15th could arguably be the signature hole with a stream that wends its way across the fairway plus a pond in front of a raised green.

Then it’s on to a fine finish. The 16th is just short of being a 400-yard par for but stay out of the rough!  The 17th is a superb par three and is the signature hole (see factfile); if you get out of there with a par the 18th will seem a doddle…but it’s not!

You must avoid the water left of the green and the trees and if you do it will offer you the chance of a good finish.