Review by Joseph Austin (TGB Director) 12.04.2012 Hcp 6
Dale Hill Golf Club & Hotel, Ticehurst, Wadhurst, East Sussex, TN5 7DQ
Dale Hill Golf Club and Hotel is a 36 Hole golf complex with a 35 room – 4 Star hotel with leisure facilities including indoor swimming pool and gymnasium. The resort also boasts a driving range and 2 short game areas.
The Old course, formerly a dairy farm, was opened in 1973 and formed the basis for the resort today. In 1997 the Woosnam course, named after and designed by the great man himself, was opened. The addition of the Woosnam course and the re-development of the clubhouse in 2004 helped to put Dale Hill on the map as one of the country’s leading golf break destinations – Being voted 4th in the Top 10 British golf breaks by Golf Monthly. The addition of the 6,512 yard Championship course built to USGA specifications complemented the Old course perfectly providing visitors with 2 very different golfing challenges in the back drop of the comfortable, and welcoming clubhouse and Hotel.
Top Golf Breaks visited Dale Hill on Thursday 12th April 2012. After a hearty breakfast and choosing from 1 of the 70 odd (yes 70 odd) buggies Dale Hill has at their disposal we ventured on to the first tee of the Woosnam. The course opens, in stark contrast to the Old course, with a monster of a hole. A wonderful 608 yard par 5, sweeping to the right – the only saving grace is the hole plays slightly down hill which does shorten this very strong opening hole. Word of advice, although this holes sweeps right – the line off the tee is definitely left of centre to give you the best approach down towards the green.
The course itself, rather interestingly, offers a variety of landscapes and settings from rolling links like fairways to tree lined valleys creating a thoroughly enjoyable test throughout the round and giving the Woosnam course a very unique feel and a certain charm. The first 4 holes provide a very testing opening and meander through what feels like a fairly traditional championship layout, where accuracy and length may be rewarded. The 2nd, in particular, demands an accurate approach to a well protected green with a very strategically placed water hazard just short and right and a large bunker at the front left gathering any ball falling short of the green.
After negotiating the first 4 holes and upon venturing on to the 5th tee you get an altogether different scene. The 5th, a picturesque 149 yard downhill par 3 offers vast views across the rolling dales with not a sound to be heard except that of lithium on titanium – it really is a golfing paradise – the hardest task after marvelling at the beauty at Dale Hill is to keep focused on the golf at hand! The following 4 holes(6 to 9) keep very much to the same vein, offering great views and some excellent holes featuring a number of subtle and testing elevation changes. The 9th is worthy of a mention, on paper the longer hitters might be tempted to go for the green but after seeing the hole in all its glory I would suspect that all but an insane Dustin Johnson would attempt it! A truly inspiring sharp dog leg right which if you can find the fairway will reward you with a most inspiring approach downhill to a green nestling into the hillside – a wonderful hole which may yield a birdie or two if played sensibly and a potential candidate for ‘signature hole’ in my mind.
The following hole, the 10th, is another of the Woosnam’s wonderful par 3′s, a 163 yard hole playing through the trees and offering little or no bail out. We recommend you ignor the flag position here and simple aim for centre of the green. The proceeding hole the 11th a 579 yard par, a true 3 shot-er if ever there was. After negotiating possibly the toughest tee shot on the course you still have approximately 300+ yards to a well protected green with the layup area being littered with bunkers, trees and water hazards, a very testing par 5 arguably playing a little harder than SI5 would suggest. The course then returns to slightly higher ground providing yet more spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The 13th is the course’s hardest hole which at first glance is hard to see why, however a well struck tee shot will leave a testing approach to a partially obscured green which is possibly the smallest green on the course and guarded by a bunker short and left and a drop off area short and right, par here is a bonus.
The final 3 holes of the Woosnam see the course turn into the woods with the 16th, a wonderful 159 yard par 3, playing over a deep valley up to a large green. Note club selection here, its better to be long as short is dead. The official signature hole is the 17th, a short 327 yard par 4 and framed by trees on both sides and where position off the tee with a long iron is all that is needed to set up a birdie chance. Make sure you aim left of centre to avoid being blocked out by the tall trees which guard the corner of this small dogleg hole.
The Final hole is a true birdie opportunity – par 5, measuring 463 yards off the back tee and playing all up hill this is a welcome relief after negotiating some rather more testing holes during the course of the round.
As courses go it is hard to categorize with 100% accuracy, the course over its 18 holes travel through a number of challenging landscapes. The 1st 4 holes are a mix of Americanized championship and woodland with holes 5-15 being reminiscent of a number of great championship venues like Chart Hills or the London Club. With elevation changes and sweeping fairways that very much follow the contours of the land and complements the surrounding countryside perfectly. The course really is testament to Ian Woosnam ‘s skills as a course designer. Personally I feel that the variety of changing landscapes only add to the experience and give the course charm and personality in abundance.
In summary, with the Championship layout that the Woosnam offers, which is completemented so well by the Old course, coupled with the charming and friendly staff that help create a truly memorable and intimate feel, Dale Hill is a venue any golfer will want to visit time after time.
Top Golf Breaks is proud to offer breaks to Dale Hill and know that anyone visiting is assured of a warm welcome and memorable experience.