Stoke Park – To the Manor Born

12.04.16

One of the UK’s most iconic country houses, Stoke Park gives its stay-and-play guests a taste of what true English golf heritage is all about. By Stevie King

Stoke Park has a certain gravitas that few stately mansions muster with ease. Basking in 300 acres of historic parkland, lakes and formal gardens in the leafy heart of Buckinghamshire, just 35 minutes’ from London, this imposing Palladian mansion designed by architect to the Crown James Wyatt, is the quintessential English country house retreat. But more than anything, it is one of the finest examples of a British golf club steeped in blue-blood history.

First-time visitors to the sporting and leisure estate might recognise the magnificent course from one of the most famous golf duels in cinema history between Sean Connery’s James Bond and Auric Goldfinger. Stoke Park was the setting for the fictional Royal St Marks’s (itself a thinly veiled version of Ian Fleming’s own club, Royal St George’s), where Goldfinger’s trick ball would not have impressed the committee. The 27-hole Championship course designed in 1908 by eminent golf architect Harry Shapland Colt is an elegant affair; three loops meander through immaculate parkland and lakes, offering glimpses of the magnificent mansion. These views are not surprising when one learns that Colt designed the course to work with the existing landscape, designed by Humphry Repton and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18th century.

Unlike other parkland courses however, Stoke’s championship layout doesn't use heather as a defence but rather a variety of mature trees and fir oaks to catch stray golf balls. The course also prides itself on natural undulating terrain, swift greens, and natural hazards to provide any level of golfer with a true examination of their ability. The main 18 holes measure 6,355 yards off the yellows, with holes 19 to 27 calculating 2,864 yards.

The course has influenced many of the world’s most famous greens. The 7th hole is officially acknowledged as Augusta National 16th’s inspiration. Indeed the course has also received many accolades over the years, including ‘ The Ultimate Members Club 2015’ at the 59 Club Awards, ‘Golf Club of the Year’ and ‘Top 100 Courses you must play in the World’ by Golf World as well as a Gold placing in the HSBC Regional Course Rankings.

It is a testament to Colt’s genius that his designs are admired by golfers at every level of the game. They still provide a genuine test and stand up to the challenges brought on by today’s modern equipment. Colt has without doubt left his legacy at Stoke Park.

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Practice facilities are equally up to par - including a putting green, driving range, short game area and state-of-the-art swing studio. This indoor facility offers the best teaching and club fitting technology, allowing for a truly interactive golf lesson where swings can be viewed immediately on the plasma screens enhanced by the latest V1 software. Pupils can hit out onto the driving range or in severe conditions or low light into a net. Gone are the days of cancelling a golf lesson due to poor weather.

Whether you choose to spend the day striding the fairways, or simply soaking in the ambience of the extensive grounds, this countryside escape caters to all tastes and proclivities.

Home to a 5 AA Red Star hotel and Country Club and boasting a host of leisure and pleasure amenities, the beautiful Grade 1 mansion sports 21 luxury bedrooms and suites with a further 28 in the neighbouring Pavilion, three restaurants, a state-of-the art gymnasium, beauty spa, indoor pool and steam rooms, together with 13 tennis courts.

Mansion rooms sporting open fires, marble bathrooms and priceless art and antiques exude a period feel harking back to the estate’s reformation at the end of the 18th century. Wonderfully spacious and generously proportioned, all accommodation options are still cosy enough to feel like home. Foodies will be in seventh heaven with a choice of decadent a la carte dining at Humphrys Restaurant under Head Chef Chris Wheeler, hearty Italian fare in brasserie-style surrounds at San Marco, with the lavish, lemon-hued Orangery serving a Home Counties’ staple – afternoon tea.

STOKE PARK – FAST FACTS

For more information visit: www.stokepark.com

Reservations: +44 (0) 1753 71 71 72 or email reservations@stokepark.com

Membership enquiries: +44 (0) 1753 71 71 79 or email membership@stokepark.com

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