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Stoke Park (Colt & Alison)

Slough, England
ArchitectBadgeHarry Colt
Slough, England
Rankings

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) was completed during the winter of 2017/18.

Stoke Park was sold to Reliance Industries, a multi-national conglomerate based in Mumbai, in early 2021. The golf club closed in October that year and will not re-open until the summer of 2023 at the earliest.

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.”

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Course Architect

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Harry Colt

Harry Colt studied law at Clare College, Cambridge. Twelve months after his 1887 enrolment, he joined the committee of the Cambridge University Golf Club and in 1889 became the club's first captain.

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