HAMPSHIRE GOLF AND SPA RETREAT
Set in the picturesque countryside and on the doorstep of the South Downs National Park, Old Thorns offers a new dimension to a traditional golf break.
Situated conveniently just off the A3 on the Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex borders, Old Thorns is one of the most sought-after golf and spa resorts in the south of England.
Just a few minutes from Liphook with direct trains to London Waterloo, and within a 40 minute drive to the popular cities of Winchester, Guildford and Portsmouth, there are plenty of local attractions nearby. However, with 400 acres to explore, spa facilities, a stunning health club plus bars and restaurants onsite, it is unlikely you will want to leave the grounds!
Golfers visiting Old Thorns on a residential break are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation with over 150 hotel rooms, glamping eco-pods and 51 fully furnished luxury apartments. With huge floor to ceiling windows and views overlooking the golf course, the two and three bedroom apartments are the latest addition to the resort. Opened in the summer of 2018, these modern, spacious apartments have been a favourite with golf societies and golf breaks. All apartments feature a spacious living and dining area, en-suite bathrooms to all bedrooms and a fully-equipped kitchen.
Getting back to the golf, the course itself offers just as much variety as the rest of the venue. Designed with all types of golfers in mind, Old Thorns is a seamless blend of forgiving holes and more challenging ones, making it perfect for groups and couples with varied handicaps.
The 6,581 yard, par 72 championship course has been around since 1976 when the BBC’s ‘voice of golf’ Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas completed construction. The rolling nature of the landscape makes for idyllic golf terrain. From the elevated tee, Old Thorns’ 5th hole gives majestic views over the beautiful Hampshire countryside. However, there is a much greater reason for the signature hole’s status. The par 4 provides much in the way of risk reward and at 357 yards from the tee, it is tempting to drive the green. Though, with a narrow fairway this may stir a thought in your mind as to whether to play a safe iron down the fairway. A magnificent hole, leaving a great feeling of anticipation before a shot is even played.
Fairways in general are routed over a heavily wooded, undulating landscape that’s part moorland and part parkland in nature with several natural springs and ponds involved along the way. The par 5, 6th is the longest hole on the scorecard, featuring a large tree in the fairway where it dog legs right to the green. On the back nine, the 268-yard 15th is a delightful short par 4 that plays to a raised green that slopes from back to front.
If walking in the footsteps of the game’s greatest players is your thing, the inauguration of the course in 1981, saw a competitive four-ball the like of which has not been seen since in this part of the country. The legendary Seve Ballesteros, the previous year’s Open champion and soon-to-be five-time Major winner, was joined by another member of golfing royalty, Jack Nicklaus – who, then aged 44, still had his 18th Major title to come two years later. Keeping them company were the reigning Open champion Bill Rogers and Asia’s first golfing superstar, Isao Aoki, now a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Aoki won with a round of 69 and all four scorecards can still be viewed today in the Sports Bar entrance.
But where did it all begin for the manor house in Hampshire? Old Thorns started life in the 17th Century as a traditional stone farmhouse, which now provides the centrepiece of the eclectic hotel. The estate was acquired by local businessman Ken Wood in the late 1940, a decade before he made his fortune with the development of the Kenwood food-mixer, and it would take another 30 years to bring to reality his vision of a golf course within his 400-acre property.
During a visit to the resort, a trip to Elevation Health Club is an absolute must. With a 26,000 square foot gym floor and upper mezzanine level, it offers panoramic views of the golf course, as well as luxuries such as a steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and 20 meter swimming pool – perfect for relaxing after a tiring round of golf.
Fresh from working up a sweat, you’ll be sure to find plenty of culinary delights around each corner – and believe us, there are a lot of twists, turns and corners at this place. From a relaxed menu in the Sports Bar to something more-hearty in the Kings Restaurant, the resort even has its very own Chinese restaurant and onsite Starbucks.
Other innovations, which have taken the resort to a whole new level include the aesthetic delight that is the Champagne Bar, complete with its own gin and cocktail menus, as well as the Gatsby Ballroom, inspired by the art-deco theme of the 1925 F. Scott Fitzgerald novel and a fabulous spa where a wide range of soothing and rejuvenating treatments are available 7 days a week.
Yet, despite all the developments, Old Thorns still retains, at its heart, a prized golf club. The late Ken Wood would be delighted.
01428 724 555September 2, 2020 4:38 pm