A Stoke Park stay and play break is a memorable experience thanks to 27 holes of golf and amazing off-course facilities. Jeremy Ellwood pays a visit...
Stoke Park Stay And Play Review
Colt: par 35, 3,341 yards
Alison: par 35, 3,242 yards
Lane Jackson: par 36, 3,070 yards
Golfers will want to sample all three nines during their stay, and all three have undergone major upgrades and transformations in recent years, now displaying some very bold bunkering that both frames the holes and adds to their strategic challenge.
The original course, comprising what are now the Colt and Alison nines, arrived in 1909, with the Lane Jackson nine – set around the boating lake and a little shorter than the other loops – a delightful later addition.
The Colt nine opens with a reasonably generous par 4 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 holes here wend their way through mature parkland and some wonderful arboreal specimens, with the second hole on the Alison nine among the visual highlights – a truly delightful short par 3 across water to a beautifully framed green.
The Alison nine concludes with an excellent four-hole stretch from the very well-guarded par-3 15th the other side of the entrance drive.
The iconic white 18th-century mansion at Stoke Park must surely provide one of the grandest stay-and-play experiences in the UK, dominating the landscape and forming a striking backdrop to a number of the 27 holes. Even those who have never before visited will often recognise it as it played a starring role in the James Bond film, Goldfinger.
It was Nick Lane Jackson, after whom the third nine is named, who purchased the property in 1908 with a view to transforming it into a luxury golf club and hotel, and today there are 49 rooms in total – 21 in the mansion and 28 more contemporary ones in the Pavilion that also houses the excellent spa and pool.
As you would expect, the facilities here are second to none, with The President’s Bar, The Orangery and Humphry’s all excellent spots to while away a few hours in the mansion house, with Humphry’s fine-dining restaurant proudly boasting three AA rosettes.
The sports and leisure facilities are comprehensive too, with the spa offering 11 treatment rooms and an outdoor Scandinavian sauna among other things, while the spacious gym offers a host of state-of-the-art fitness equipment.
Tennis is a major part of the Stoke Park set-up too, with 13 tennis courts in total offering a variety of surfaces from artificial clay to indoor and grass. Every year in the week prior to Wimbledon, Stoke Park hosts its annual Boodles tournament, attracting some of the biggest names in the game.
Any Stoke Park stay and play visit is sure to provide a truly memorable experience.