Stay and play at this fab Hampshire golf course

Aerial view of a golf hotel and resort in Hampshire.

Old Thorns is set on rolling countryside with some stunning views. - Credit: Old Thorns

Old Thorns, on the edge of the South Downs, is a delightful challenge for all types of golf players, says DAVID ROBBINS 

Good golfers can sometimes be a little disdainful of hotel courses - lacking in character and a little rough around the edges are two often heard observations. 
Well, Old Thorns, near Liphook and on the edge of the South Downs, quashes those two theories. Officially opened in 1982 by Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Isao Aoki and Bill Rogers, this par-72 golf course is both forgiving for the less advanced golfers but still a challenge for the best. It was designed by Commander John Harris in the 1970s but his death meant the task of completing the course passed to Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas. 

A golfer watched by another as he puts the ball.

It's a very entertaining course that should leave you wanting to go back and play it again. - Credit: Old Thorns

It's set on rolling countryside with some stunning views, particularly on the par four 5th hole. Stand on the elevated tee and admire the colourful shrubs to your side and a corridor of fine old trees lining the fairway beneath your feet. It's an enticing drive but my gung-ho shot cleared the trees and onto the neighbouring fairway (I still managed par though!). 
Away from the wooded early holes there's another type of test lying in wait. Water comes into play, often requiring you to hit shots over it. Negotiate those and you are back among the trees for the interesting 15th, a reachable par 4 of 264 yards, but it's all uphill to a two tiered green. Lay up and float a wedge up to the green is the safest, but not easy, option.  

Next is another elevated tee and a lovely looking par 3 across a valley. The wet stuff also sneaks onto the closing hole - stroke index 1- with placement the key to get a shot into the green. 

View from an elevated tee looking down the fairway of a golf course.

Stand on the elevated par 5 tee and admire the views. - Credit: Old Thorns

As you might surmise it's a very entertaining course that should leave you wanting to go back and play it again. We did and were paired up with two other visitors from nearby Winchester who were also on a golf holiday and highly complimentary of the course. 
Away from the fairways Old Thorns is a relaxing place to stay with comfortable and spacious rooms, self-catering apartments and glamping pods. There's a carvery in the King's Restaurant offering hearty servings of roast beef or turkey, ideal for hungry golfers, and breakfast the next day was also self-service. Meanwhile if you fancy pub-style classic meals, and the chance to watch sport on TV, the Sports Bar should meet your requirements. 
The resort isn't all about golf - it has a state-of-the-art health club and spa facilities. One night, two night and three-night golf packages are available from £129 per person. 

A wood-framed golf hotel restaurant.

There's a carvery in the King's Restaurant offering hearty servings of roast beef or turkey. - Credit: Old Thorns