Is there a course in Great Britain that has a more striking and varied collection of holes than Stoneham? I don’t think so. I should confess that Stoneham has, and always will have, a special place in my heart. I caddied for my father here in 1989 in the Pro Am and when the last team didn’t turn up I found myself teeing it up the day after I received my first handicap. Playing with Gary Stubbington, a Hampshire legend with a dream of a golf swing, the secretary of the HPGA and the assistant from the shop, still an amateur, we shot -19 and we won! So I was hooked on the game and went home with a 12 inch TV with remote control.
The last 25 years have not been kind to Stoneham. Thatch, encroaching woodland, lack of water and lack of investment took their toll. However, things have very much changed for the better. The bold and progressive work that started 2-3 years ago under the guidance of an enlightened management and expert green keeper is starting to pay off handsomely. Massive investment is underway and the work that has been undertaken on the clearance of encroaching woodland and the world class new bunkering will re elevate Stoneham to the position it rightly deserves. The greens have returned to their challenging best. True and fast. The undulating ground remains as inviting and enticing as it always was. Every hole is so different from the last but the language is the same. The finesse and intricacy with which the bunkers have been renovated and renewed will stand the test of time for generations to come. The shaping and aesthetic is world class.
The par is generous at 72 for just 6400 yards however I can imagine that being stretched comfortably in years to come. Every shot at Stoneham is inviting and requires thought and skill. It is a fair course that can reward and punish in equal measure. Consider the Men’s open in August to challenge Hampshire’s best or don’t hesitate to take your society. It’s viscerally memorable. But I can’t guarantee you’ll go home with a telly.
Date: October 01, 2017