I returned after three years to play Stoke Park and had a really enjoyable time. The off course facilities are immaculate with service and attention to detail as good as anywhere. As for the golf; there are three loops of nine holes named Alison, Colt and Jackson, with the Alison/Colt combo making up the 1-18 configuration. I will start however with holes 19-27 and it is this nine that I think in time (some more tree growth etc.) could become the most dramatic. The tee shot at the 20th is very demanding over water, with a precise approach required. Hole no. 21 is a great par-3 over the water again. The next hole gives beautiful views of the house across water again. Holes (22-25) are the newest looking but as I said before when the trees grow, these holes will be defined perfectly. The final two holes on this nine are great – a long par-5 that is tree lined for the last 200 yards and the 27th is a classic short par-4 that has brilliant match-play possibilities. Holes 1-18 are considerably more established and I would say impossible not to like. An observation is that the fairways are very very generous and can flatter slightly errant driving to be honest. Par-3’s at the 7th and 11th would not look out of place anywhere in the world and go to prove that a short hole does not have to be 210 yards plus to be difficult. There have been changes to the par-3 15th (extra bunkers) that make this a much better hole than I remember. Lasting feeling is that Stoke Park’s golf is very good but not exceptional – it is no doubt very enjoyable though. As for the off-course experience….. It is certainly up there with the best quality I have experienced in GB&I and I would have no problem in saying Stoke Park in the same breath as Gleneagles and Turnberry when referring to the best quality golfing resorts. So to get full enjoyment, I would suggest a stay and play option over just playing and as a ranking; my opinion would be that this should be around no. 50 in England rather than 68.
Date: October 30, 2008