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 the 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 7th has been recently remodelled and now features a lake and a waterfall.
Stoke Park is surely one of the finest parkland golf courses in the South of England. There is no heather here at all (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. However, it is 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 was also featured in the later Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies.
In 1999, the course was extended to 27 holes.Each of the three loops of nine is named: Colt, Alison and Jackson. The original course is made up of the Colt and Alison nines.
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Average Reviewers Score:
A classy place where you are made to feel very welcome. The pro shop (Craig), halfway house (Ross) and clubhouse service is first class and friendly. Some reviews say this is an average course. However, if you appreciate Harry Colt and golf architecture you will enjoy the challenges that each shot presents. The condition of the course, in particular the greens was of a very high standard (even in December). The short 7th, the inspiration for Augusta National's 16th, is the highlight of the front nine. It will make you wonder why Augusta National ever changed the original design. The finishing stretch from 15 to 18 is very enjoyable. For travelling golfers the rental sets here were the latest TaylorMade clubs. If you have a late flight out of Heathrow, Stoke Park is an excellent place to relax before the long flight home.
At Stoke Park I felt there was a lovely collection of holes rather than a course with many outstanding holes. The flow of holes is very good with two consecutive holes of the same par with the two par4s that close the Colt (front) nine. The arrow straight opening par5 offers a gentle start, as you can recover from a poor shot, but it does at least get groups away quickly from the clubhouse. It is not until the Alison back nine that you experience flat, straight holes again. I had expected a lush and soft course throughout but was pleased to find it reasonably firm, making tee shot distance no problem (even I had just a wedge into the 5th), but accuracy more of an issue. Harry Colt was clearly a genius in picking the best golfing terrain, as the Colt nine is more undulating and varied than the Alison nine. Holes 6-8 are very good especially with the standout par3 7th with its green sloping back to water making a precise approach vital, with little bail-out room. The 9th has a difficult looking tee shot but its approach is truly sneaky with dead ground fronting the green that was not shown on the complementary course planner I was kindly given.
The Alison nine starts with some charming views and some more dead ground and clever bunkering to fool the eye, but after playing holes 10-13 I was struck by the feeling that I have certainly experienced much more difficult courses with less illustrious reputations. It begs the question of whether or not a course needs to be manifestly difficult to be considered good. If you like a course with pleasant views and the odd touch of subtle design then certainly Stoke Park will certainly fit the bill. However, the course then shifts up a gear for the last five holes with a long, gently-curving par4 followed by more undulations, and an excellent par4 17th of some 400 yards with a diagonal stream crossing the fairway in the last 100 yards. Strolling up the 18th fairway on a glorious evening in late summer, delighting in the serene surroundings, I felt glad I had played it but I doubt I would pay the full rack rate green fee for the privilege.
The first time that I have played the course in some years, and Stoke Park was in terrific condition. The tees were an example to many much vaunted courses, and the greens were fast and immaculate.
It is a fine place to play golf, majestic club house, very friendly pro-shop, excellent food and not at all snotty or pretentious.
Although it is a decent layout, I don't think that it is in the first rank of Colt courses, nor is it that stiff a test. It is not long off the whites, the fairways are generous, and the greens are mostly receptive. In my opinion doesn't deserve to ranked quite so high, and I am not sure that it deserves to be ranked above Beaconsfield or Denham, two other Colt courses located nearby. Both are certainly cheaper and less busy than Stoke Park.
This is a truly wonderful course presented in fantastic condition. However it does not take heavy rain very well so watch out for flooding. If it has rained overnight prior to arrival it might be worth a call. I don't think it has the wow factor of other courses. It's a pretty average piece of ground. Never the less it is jolly nice. The staff are very welcoming and the service is top class. The courses and facilities are fastidiously maintained. Fabulous practice areas. So go early!! JCB LAY
Played here on Wednesday, was a beautiful day, a beautiful entrance. When we arrived the service was exceptional, the shop staff were ultra friendly, every member of staff was polite and made an effort to make us feel welcome. The practice areas were really good, as was the range, my friend and I could have spent hours practicing. When we got out on the course were were not dissapointed either, the tees, fairways and the greens were in fantastic condition. The layout is short but we did play from the yellows and it would have been a much better test from the backs which were a fair distance behind. In contary to previuos comments thought the last few holes were probably the best on the course. The greens fees are high but I believe value for money.
I played Stoke Park (Colt/Alison loop) on 17th June on a reasonably windy day. First off the entrance up to the clubhouse is nothing short of majestic, the main clubhouse building is stunning and leaves you in no doubt you are playing somewhere a wee bit special. We had breakfast before venturing out and the service was excellent as was the food, the locker rooms are spacious and very welcoming, and they have a good range with free balls before you go out. The overall conditioning of the course was excellent, the greens in particular were extremely true and quick, if you putted badly you had no one to blame but yourself. The fairways were lush and the teeing areas were very good. The layout of the course is typical parkland really, plenty of timber to keep you focused and a few interestingly shaped holes but nothing too severe. The bunkering is very good indeed, I should know as I found about 10 during my round! The par 3 holes in particular stand out for me, the 7th and 11th are both over water and are very pretty holes indeed, I played both of these terribly but I still appreciated how good they were. The 18th hole is a terrific par 4 with excellent greenside bunkering. The 16th par 4 meanders along the river and is a reasonably tight hole, and this is followed by the 17th which is a great par 4 where you can take the tiger line over the trees to give you a short iron in to the green. The holes are treelined in many cases but you can still spray it about a bit without being punished too harshly. In summary I would rate Stoke Park as a very good golf course, it is very expensive to play and I was fortunate to play there for free through work, but I don't believe anyone would be disappointed playing here, the facilities are excellent as is the condition of the course.
As written on here before the club seems to be lacking a bit of atmosphere, but all the staff are extremely helpful and friendly. The clubhouse is a sight to behold and stands proud over the course and it can be seen at many different points from the course. The course is good but no better than that. It starts with an average par 5 and the tee box seems to be cut out of a piece of the fairway, its a very ordinary start, however the next 3 holes are very interesting. The stand out holes are the par 3's 7th and 11th followed by 16 and 17. A lot of average holes with huge bunkers seemingly everywhere, doesn't look like a usual 100 year old Colt style in that sense. The condition of the course for January was very good. Nice to of played it, but way over priced for what it is.
I played the course a couple of times and I really enjoy playing at Stoke Park. The staff is friendly and helpful. The club house is breathtaking and by its own worth a visit. The best holes from my perspective are 7, 9, 16, 17, 20, 27. The course is quite difficult and I have not managed to play my handicap yet. The greens are fast and difficult to read. Some holes are a little bit boring (e.g. 1, 6, 13, 15, 22, 23). The combination Colt & Allison (1-18) is the best, but Lane Jackson is not far off. The course is lacking a little bit the golf club atmosphere.
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.
This is a good course but not close to Colt's best work; it has been messed up too much in recent years. The second 9 at Stoke was marred by tearing up both a super short 4 that had a clever downhill sloping green and nice par 3 (15th and 16th); replacing these with a lacklustre par 3 and 4. Best holes are 3,4,5,7 (why the new pond?),11,12,17. But nearby Beaconsfield has the edge.
The reason for work that the writer refers to was to actually return the course (and pond) to the original Colt design. The Club celebrated its Centenary in 2008 and extensive research took place from 2006 in preparation for the Club’s Centenary Book. The changes have had universal praise and we were recently nominated as “Golf Course of the Year” by The Observer and in the “Top 100 Golf Courses You must Play” by Golf World. - Stoke Park Club
08 April 2012
I agree with the original reviewer Stoke Park is nowhere near to Colt's best work. Regarding that Golf World list mentioned above, it was a joke Top 100 ranking list that included the likes of Kabul Golf Club including the minefield and tanks... no reputable World Top 100 ranking list should ever feature Stoke Park. Having said that, I think Stoke is a decent parkland track.
An outstanding parkland course in fantastic condition. Beautiful surroundings and the awesome clubhouse make this a real treat to play. Clever fairway bunkering make driving tricky and precise iron shots needed particularly on the par threes. Only the condition of the bunkers (not much sand and lots of stones) prevent this from receiving top marks.
Whilst the location and surroundings are without doubt superb, and the course layout varied and challenging, our day, complete with glorious weather, was spoiled by the conditiion of the greens, particularly on the Colt 9. They were quick, took a great deal of borrow, but were spoiled by being incredibly bobbly with some greens seeming mossy. Still a cracking place to play golf though.
played here in Feb, expecting much, the history of the place is evident from the drive through the estate to the old mansion. Slightly perturbed by the arrogant attitude of the pro shop staff. However nothing could prepare me for the horror walking on to the first tee. The tee box was disgraceful, looking as if a tractor had driven over it, the fairway was awful, although the first and subsequently rest of the greens were immaculate. The 3rd to 5th hole from tee to green were also a mess, once more looking like a tractor had ripped them up. Myself and partner were ready to walk off and ask for our money back. After this he course improved significantly but the first 5 holes left such a bitter taste in the mouth that was impossible to ignore. I appreciate that a £50 green fee in winter for a course of this reputation is standard, but that is all we paid for..a reputation
The 27 holes available provide a combination of challenges. However, the course left me with an overriding sense that it could not be bothered to try harder to be better than it is. The tees are in a lacklustre condition and the pin positions have not been particularly challenging on the days I have played. There are some excellent holes though, particularly on the 3rd nine. I particular like the penultimate Par 4 where you are tempted to drive between two large trees, only to find a tough pitch to a sloping left to right green.
The club house is excellent and the food is very good indeed, but I think the course requires more attention to justify a higher than average rating.
Parkland is not my favourite ground for golf but it's about as good as it gets at Stoke Park. Although there are plenty of huge trees, you really have to be pretty wayward to find them, except perhaps on the 17th... don't go too far left with your tee shot here. Greens are huge, true and subtly borrowed. The 7th hole is quite rightly the signature and it really is fantastic, one of my favourite inland par threes. It can be expensive to play here, but there are plenty of deals, especially in the winter. One of the best corporate/society venues in and around London.
Hmmm a tough one.. I like the course but it's too fragmeneted to be a great course. Lots of different feels to your experience here. Lots of different areas of land are used etc. You can pay the same money and play better courses.
Really high quality parkland golf course played in a special place. Plenty of variation amongst the holes
that are a delight to play. The par 3 7th often gets a special mention and rightly so - a real beauty (take plenty of club - no prizes
for being wet !). The clubhouse is a fabulous building and the whole experience here; spa, shop, bars, restaurants, accommodation
is top drawer. As for the golf, Stoke Park can easily sit firmly in any list of top British courses and to play here is a treat - A certain taste
for the finer side of life here !
We played Stoke Park earlier this summer and it was an exceptionally memorable experience. It's a quite gorgeous parkland course maintained impeccably...in my view it's better than Little Aston, which is widely considered to be the best parkland course in Britain. It's a bit pricey but worth every penny - they certainly know how to look after you and there are some great deals to be had if you avoid peak times. Bring your best driving game with you - this is a tough course.
For a course of its age this is a great test of golf, even for those with their monster drivers in the bag. Off the back tees, the bunkers sit carefully waiting for those big hits. The greens require precision and above all it all sits on some beautifully manicured grounds. The front eighteen are the ones to play. The remaining nine need some time and refinement to match the former. A great course nonetheless. Save money, play the twighlight rounds when the course is quiet.
A classical parkland course always maintained in sublime condition. Stoke Park is a very enjoyable and challenging place to play golf. Clubhouse is simply delightful but lacks the golf club soul. Well worth playing and the 7th is almost worth the green fee on its own.