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.
Date: October 27, 2020