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The Stoke Park Club is located at Stoke Poges, a charming leafy town situated on the fringe of the Chiltern Hundreds. A Hundred is a traditional name for the division of an English county and the wooded Chiltern Hills (which separate Buckinghamshire from Berkshire) were once a notorious hiding place where robbers would wait in ambush. These days things are more genteel.
In Bernard Darwin’s 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, he wrote: “Stoke Park is a beautiful spot, and there is very good golf to be played there; the club is an interesting one, moreover, as being one of the first and the most ambitious attempts in England at what is called in America a Country Club.”
Capability Brown originally landscaped the historic parkland in the late 18th century. Harry Colt then came along and designed a 27-hole golf course, which opened for play in 1908. The signature hole, the 7th, the inspiration for Augusta National’s 16th, is considered to be one of Colt’s finest holes. The recently remodelled 7th now features a lake and a waterfall. By 1922, the club boasted forty-five Harry Colt-designed holes, but sadly, by the time the Second World War was over, only eighteen holes remained.
Stoke Park is surely one of the finest parkland golf courses in the South of England. There is no heather here (which is unusual for the location); the main line of defence is the abundance of huge stately trees and Colt’s clever design. The fairways appear wide and generous from the tees, but it's important to get the line and distance right, otherwise you will face challenging second shots.
More famous than the majestic parkland golf course is the 18th century mansion designed by James Wyatt (architect to George III), housing the clubhouse, hotel and restaurant. “The clubhouse is a gorgeous palace,” wrote Darwin, “a dazzling vision of white stone, of steps and terraces and cupolas, with a lake in front and imposing trees in every direction.”
Stoke Poges was also used as the setting for the golf scenes in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger, in which 007 had his famous match with Goldfinger. The film featured the scene whereby Harold Sakata, as Oddjob, spun his steel-rimmed bowler hat at Sean Connery. It missed 007 but beheaded a statue! The clubhouse also featured in the later Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies.
In 1996, after long negotiations with adjoining landowners, the club reacquired 70 acres of parkland and restored the original nine lost Colt holes. In 1999, the new loop, named Lane Jackson, opened for play. Today, the Colt and Alison nine combine to form the main 18-hole layout, but the Lane Jackson circuit is hardly inferior.
In 2015, the Stoke Park Club commenced a bunker repositioning and renovation programme using the specialist golf course construction company, John Greasley Ltd. Reconstruction work was completed on the Colt nine in 2016 and modifications to the Alison loop finished in spring 2017. The third nine (Lane Jackson) will be completed during the winter of 2017/18.
Stoke Park is one of our Top 100 Golf Resorts of the World
like other reviews, its closing for 2 yrs for a massive refurb, so just hope its not torn up completely? was lucky enough to play here on a sunny July day, and the course was amazing, the greens were superb, tee boxes immaculate. the hospitality was also top notch by the club. was made to feel very welcome. (though it was a work event, so they were no doubt getting a lot of money? lol)
only hope for the future is that is available to access and play for others, without taking out another mortgage.
....do not get your hopes up...I hear that the hotel is going to be turned into a home....constructing of a full size cricket pitch..they have bought South Bucks GC and are apparently turning it into the best course practice place in the country...
“Shall we make it a shilling, a hole?” I couldn’t resist a Bond reference as we warmed up in front of the Stoke Park hotel, made famous by 007’s classic game with Goldfinger.
Sadly, to many, there is a new villain in town – Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani whose company Reliance Industries Ltd. has bought the estate for £57m and given its members a few months’ notice of a two-year closure.
Rumours abound that the three nines of Stoke Park will be dug up and made into an 18-hole championship course that won’t be in the eye-line of the house.
Can this really be true? If golf is to be maintained, surely the iconic holes should be preserved.
Anyway, when I learned of the sale, I feared that my quest to play the top 100 golf courses in England could be under dire threat because, even if public access is allowed in the future, the chances are that the classic Colt/Allison course may not exist.
Charging to the rescue was one of my colleagues in the Press Golfing Society who has been a member for 14 years and was kind enough to be our host.
From the outset, our experience at Stoke Park was outstanding.
The gorgeous tree-lined drive into the estate builds up anticipation before the famous hotel outline emerges.
We were then greeted by the most enthusiastic starter of any of the top100 quest so far (he has plenty of impressive competition).
He was wonderfully engaging about the course, extremely proud of its condition and I’m sure would not have mentioned that he is about to lose his cherished job if we had not asked about the future.
The warm-up facilities are excellent as is the practice green – both in the shadow of a monument to former owner and Gunpowder Powder Plot prosecutor Sir Edward Coke.
Meanwhile, the course itself was a delight.
The opening nine, named after designer Harry Colt, is memorable for its outstanding bunkering but also pristine fairways and greens which appear flat but are far trickier than they look (at least they were to me).
This does not feel in any way like a course which is on its way out – the visual effects of the crossed fairways and manicuring generally were top-notch.
There are many cracking holes but the 7th is worthy of mention because it inspired Alister MacKenzie’s creation of the 16th at Augusta. I’d been having a very decent round so there was nothing more inevitable than chunking my ball into the water.
Actually, all par-threes at Stoke Park are of the highest quality. The third is 195 yards uphill, requiring a shot between bunkers, the 11th is a beauty over water and the 15th is framed by a picturesque bridge and St Giles Church where Bond laid flowers to his deceased wife Tracy in a later film.
I was shaken and stirred to knock my tee shot to within six feet of the flag and sink the putt for a birdie.
The final three holes have become legend because of Bond’s match with Goldfinger.
The 16th is a superb bending par-four with a target at the side of water with a deep bunker the only saviour from a loose shot finding a wet grave. The green is where Bond threw a gold bar at the feet of his adversary.
On the way to the 17th green is information about the most famous golf match in the movies before the hole in which jiggery-pokery went on with ball swapping. Anyway, it requires big decisions over whether to take on water in front of the green.
The 18th is a long curving par-four which I was utterly delighted to hit in two.
This was certainly up there with the most enjoyable rounds of my top100 challenge so far and we engaged in after-match discussion on the lawn in front of one of the grandest backdrops in golf.
I can only add my plea to the many that the new owner doesn’t devastate this great venue as much as people fear and that he will allow members to return.
To paraphrase Goldfinger, we shouldn’t expect it to die.
A round at Stoke Park is always a delight, even more so an bright late Autumn day when the trees are at their resplendent best, a real visual treat. The last time I played the club was half way through the bunker refurbishment, I felt at the time they looked too bright and out of place but thankfully a few years has blended them seamlessly into the course and they provide a worthy defence, ready to punish bad drives and swallow inaccurate approach shots. Of the two 9’s I think the Colt is superior, much better defined holes and more interesting terrain; not to say the Alison is bad but it just doesn’t have the wow factor many of the Colt holes do. On the day I started out on the Alison, a gentle par 4 and par 3 to open with before you hit the main course with its mixture of long and short par 4’s being the best holes, because of the soft conditions the course played a lot longer so mid irons into the small greens was needed on many holes. Playing the Colt loop coming back is a tougher challenge with only one short par 5 and succession of longer and shorter par 4’s, all well defended by deep bunkers, the highlights for me were the par 3’s, the 12th/3rd requiring a well struck long iron to carry the bunkers and the famous 16th/7th which many other reviewers have covered before. The greens were the best I’ve played on all year even in the damp conditions, carpet like with wonderful roll, while not hugely undulating they have a lot of subtle slopes and hollows, they most definitely are a challenge; the day I played most of the pins seemed to be in their toughest spots adding to the fun.
While Stoke Park doesn’t reach the level of the top courses in the home counties a round here on the tree lined fairways, always excellent course condition and quality greens will always put a smile on your face.
Until two years ago, I had been a member at Stoke Park since I was 7 years old. How lucky I was, and still am as my family are members and my brother, the Pro-shop assistant.
The whole site is beautiful, from the Capability Brown gardens to the James Wyatt designed Clubhouse. It is said that Washing DC Whitehouse is modelled on this mansion. The estate was used as a private residence until 1908, when Nick Lane Jackson purchased the estate and turned it into the UK’s first Country Club. One of his initial objectives was to commission the famous amateur golfer and course architect Harry Colt to design the golf course.
The signature hole, the 7th, the inspiration for Augusta National’s 16th, is considered to be one of Colt’s finest holes. The 11th is also rumoured to have inspired number 12 at Augusta. In 2015, the club commenced work to remodel all three 9-hole loops. I can safely say that this has been utterly successful. The course now looks and feels like a championship course.
It would be easy for visitors to be overwhelmed by the history of the club. Most notably the modern silver-screen history. The club was used as the setting for James Bond’s Goldfinger and also the cult classic Layer Cake. Having played the course more times than I remember, I am in a position to pass judgement of the course itself.
I enjoy the course. There isn’t really a hole that bores me (minus maybe 12 and 13). I have played many good rounds around this track. However, not as good as the course record 62 shot by friend and member Conor Gough when he was 13. At 16, Conor has recently been picked to be a part of the Walker Cup side to face the USA in September at Hoylake. I wish him the best of luck and I look forward to him gracing our screens on the main tours over the next few years.
I recommend visiting this amazing facility, even for a few days. The golf is fantastic (David Leadbetter has recently set up shop here) and the hotel, with 3 AA Rosette restaurant and award-winning spa, gym and tennis courts (grass, clay and indoor) is magnificent.
Was tempted between the 4 and 4 1/2 but I'll give Stoke Park the benefit of the doubt. Definately one in the history books, Stoke Park is probably on the bucket list for a lot of golfers growing up seeing films (Goldfinger & Layercake) or in more recent times, seeing it featured on A League Of Their Own, but it certainly raises the question whether the venue proceeds the course itself.
Whilst you may not be able to get a hovercraft over the ponds of the par 3 like Jack Whitehall (youtube a league of their own at stoke park) I do think the course itself is good enough to compete with the place itself.
Whilst it may not be the most exiting of courses to play, it was kept in great condition and I loved the par 3 that was 'copied' for Augusta. In fact theres another dainty little par 3 on the other 9 which looked quite nice too.
The clubhouse is as you would expect, amazing. A very nifty pro shop where the old horse stable was with a unique walkway through to the changing rooms is well worth a walk to see some of the history along the way.
Stoke Park is a VIP place, and you will expect to see very fancy cars in the car park, maybe even a celeb if you're lucky. I'm pretty sure Jamie Redknapp was or is a member there alongside Queenwood.
Definately worth the play even with the expensive price tag! I played for a junior comp a good few years ago, the same one the current (I think) course record was set by a then 13 year old! (-9), Took the title off his brother who had the old course record, sibling rivalry, hey!
Fantastic and iconic venue. One of the best looking courses I've played. The club house is of course famous for the filming that has been done there over the years and for the luxurious hotel, the course lives up to price.
Is Stoke Park good? Yes. Is it overrated? Also yes. The clubhouse is spectacular, let's get that out of the way. It lacks atmosphere though being a hotel rather than golf club, but inside and outside it is stunning.
The course is good. The holes have variety, and can all be remembered after the round. The par 3s are the standout, with 7 and 11 particularly nice. However, my criticism of the course is in the recent bunkering. The bunkers are now much deeper and extremely penal. They also have too much sand in them, and I've seen drives(!) plug in fairway bunkers. On top of this, the greens are tiny, and more or less all circles. They lack shape, but more importantly, because of their size, are really difficult to hit. If you miss, you'll find a very deep bunker where you'll probably plug. Hole 7 was a fantastic par 3, but if you miss the green now, it is physically impossible for your bunker shot to stop on the green. The other side of the green is water, so you cannot miss.
The layout is lovely, but I think there is better golf in the area for the same (or better) value.
The Stoke Park clubhouse/hotel/manor is a treasure and one of the finest places I have ever dined or stayed in. It is truly remarkable. As for the golf course, it is pleasant and beautiful with the grounds laid out by Capability Brown, perhaps the finest landscape designer ever in the UK. The golf course, designed by Harry Colt, takes a backseat to both the clubhouse/hotel as well as the garden-like environment. This parkland course is lined with Oak and Fir trees with a few holes featuring rhododendron bushes. The ideal time to play the golf course is when those bushes are flowering and the less ideal time is in the fall when the leaves are falling. While the trees are beautiful and create a peaceful atmosphere, they are dense at times offering limited chances for recovery should you enter the tree line. The course is one of the more heavily bunkered courses one will play. Sand is seemingly everywhere which overall leads to a feeling of “I’ve played this hole before.”
There are some nice holes here, but only a few are truly memorable. I give the course high marks for its playability with generous fairways and obvious lines to the greens. Most of the greens have wide openings despite the number of bunkers. The course is well conditioned and the greens are smooth but not overly sloped or undulated. The biggest plus to the golf course is the improved bunkering. I played here a few times in 1993-1998 as part of society days and when returning after the renovation, the bunkering is the obvious feature that stands out on the course. The slight negative is that many of the greenside bunkers are similar in their shaping, raised above the height of the green with manufactured mounds added.
This course will not test the better player’s game and certainly not the best players as it lacks adequate length for the width of the fairways. A few of the holes are slightly uphill which adds to the drama of the better holes. The stronger holes are the par 3’s with the par 5’s all representing birdie/eagle possibilities for the longer hitters. I thought the best par 4’s to be the sixth, eighth and seventeenth due to the length, bunkering, and the green complexes.
Of the holes I noted, the long uphill par 3 of 218 yards is a gem. For those trying to lay up in front of the green there is a long stretch of bunkers on the right side beginning roughly 60 yards short of the green as well as a bunker left. The green is nicely sloped back to front.
The sixth hole plays uphill and has numerous bunkers scattered to navigate throughout the hole. There is a cross bunker about 50 yards short of the green which should not come into play but adds to the visual appeal of the hole. The green is sloped back to front with the more serious slope about halfway through.
The seventh, the model for the sixteenth at Augusta National, is a fine par 3 of 171 playing from an elevated tee to a hole with water down the right side of the green angled away from you. Two bunkers are placed on the left side, one of which is basically the length of the green, sitting below a rise in the land. There is another bunker at the rear of the green for those attempting to take the water out of play by hitting an additional club. Fall short of the green to the right and the slope fronting it will carry your ball into the water. The green is similarly tilted towards the water. Hitting into that long bunker on the left likely results in playing out sideways rather than toward the flag such is the steepness of the green towards the water. This hole is a visually appealing parkland par 3. I left it wondering whether the right side of the green was the inspiration for the fifteenth at Augusta National so steep is the slope of the green and the “rough” between the green and water.
The eighth, a par 4 just under 400 yards is perhaps the best defended hole on the golf course with seven bunkers including two each on either side for the tee shot.
The ninth hole has both a lovely view of the clubhouse/hotel behind the green and a slight false front at the green.
The eleventh is a nice mid-length par 3 well bunkered with a pond before the green and a slope between the pond and green. It is another fine par 3.
The seventeenth is a longer par 4 dogleg right of 420 yards requiring a second shot to carry a stream on the right that is enlarged to form a pond on the left. My only complaint about the hole is that there is too much room between the water and the green.
Eighteen is one of the longer par 4’s on the course and the finish is notable for the seeing most of the clubhouse/hotel as well as a nice tilted green.
Stoke Park is a course one plays for other reasons; for the opportunity to enjoy the clubhouse and the dining, but also because it is a lovely walk.
When you first play Stoke Park Golf Club you will be in awe when you see the clubhouse, it is truly spectacular! The service and food was fantastic and the facilities were great. The course was in good condition however i feel like it wasn’t a course that would be on the top 100 if it weren’t for the history as i’ve played other courses which aren’t in the top 100 that i would rather play. There are some good holes at stoke park however some holes that aren’t too well presented but it was still a day that i really enjoyed and overall the course was great. I will give it a 5 ball purely because as a club it is fantastic and so i would come back again to play it if it was a reasonable price!
I played early on a wonderful Spring morning in April 2018 and was treated to a wonderful layout and scrupulous course conditions. The fairways are rather generous and the average length of hole is not too demanding for the reasonably accomplished golfer. This results in a very relaxing and enjoyable experience for the recreational (i.e. non-elite) player. Having said this, there are many challenging approach shots and tricky greens at Stoke Park. The famous par 3 seventh hole, often compared to the sixteenth at Augusta National, is a good (but by no means exclusive) example of the precision often required at Stoke Park. Even aside from the Goldfinger connection, this course is a "must play" for golfers visiting the greater London area. The staff is very welcoming as well.