It may not be as famed for its courses as certain counties, but golf in Buckinghamshire has much to offer from famous resorts to excellent members’ clubs
In the latest in our ‘Best Places to Play…’ series, which has taken in everywhere from Cumbria, Suffolk and Kent to Speyside, Perthshire, Yorkshire and much more, we look at the best places to play golf in Buckinghamshire, the Home County to the north-west of London…
Even those who have never before visited will often recognise Stoke Park’s iconic white 18th-century mansion that serves as the clubhouse. It dominates the landscape and forms a striking backdrop to a number of Stoke Park’s 27 holes.
The Colt nine opens with a fairly friendly par 5 but quickly comes alive on the down-and-up par-3 3rd across a valley to a well-bunkered target. The long par-4 4th is then fully deserving of its Stroke Index 1 status, with OOB right a constant threat.
The 7th ranks among the most famous holes, as it provided the inspiration for Alister MacKenzie’s 16th at Augusta National. You may not ‘get this’ when you play it, but once you learn that the 16th green at Augusta was originally set the other side of the lake, it all falls into place.
The course wends it way through mature parkland and some wonderful arboreal specimens, with the second hole on the Allison nine among the visual highlights – a truly delightful short par 3 across water to a beautifully framed green.
After a relatively accommodating start, the testing par-5 8th – where the fairway throws everything towards the M40 from the first of its 537 yards to the last – comes at the end of a tough stretch from the 4th on account of either sheer length and/or testingly sloping greens.
The 12th has a split fairway, but there’s little merit in the left-hand route unless you happen to find yourself there by accident rather than design. The 15th is then a real standout hole playing round to the right and across a lake.
Magnolia Park enjoys a countryside location close to the M40, and the recently opened Best Western Plus Hotel’s 30 rooms mean you can now stay on site in the heart of the countryside.
The course close to the Great Ouse started life with six holes before growing to a full 18 in the 1970s. A delightful clear-flowing stream crosses a number of holes, including the 1st, 9th, 10th and 18th that all play down and up across its valley.
The 2nd is a shock to the system early on at 463 yards, but the excellent 252-yard 5th playing up and round to a steeply sloping green is living proof that par 4s don’t have to be long to test you.
The 12th and 13th play alongside the Great Ouse, the latter another good short par 4 where birdie aspirations will often be confounded by the ditch running up the middle.
Water comes into play often in the form of lakes and the Rivers Misbourne and Colne, especially on the way out. The greens are big and the bunkers numerous, with the tough dogleg 15th boasting no fewer than 10 of all shapes and sizes.
The 8th is a memorable risk-reward affair, doglegging sharply to the left over a lake. The lay-up isn’t particularly straightforward either, so bigger hitters may feel taking on the green is sometimes the more sensible option. The 9th is then a delightful par 3 to a green set between the river and the magnificent clubhouse.
Buckinghamshire’s oldest club was founded in 1891 and designed by the great J.H. Taylor. It plays over free-draining, gently undulating parkland, with mature trees framing many fairways.
Among the standout holes are the 5th, a long par 4 requiring a lengthy approach over a gentle valley to the green, and the mid-length par-3 10th where a deep sleepered bunker guards the front.
The 14th ranks among the tougher tests coming home, a long par 4 where the second shot is played over a bank of gorse and hawthorn bushes down to a semi-blind, and indeed, tricky green.