Englands No.1 Resort Stoke Park has had much celebrate as the year 2017 drew to a close. For the prestigious Five AA Red Star Country Club Spa & Hotel in Buckinghamshire had landed an astonishing hat-trick of highly regarded golf accolades. In the space of little more than a week, Stoke Park was revealed as the Top English Golf Resort in the inaugural Golf World Top 100 Hundred Resorts in the United Kingdom & Ireland, then UK Golf Resort of the Year in Square Mile, the leading lifestyle publication for the City of London, and finally at the World Golf Awards in Spain, it was hailed as having the world’s best clubhouse. Praising the historic venue, the magazine’s editorial described the course as being “of considerable pedigree and astutely updated. The Harry Colt course is very good and getting progressively better, while the rooms, both in the historic mansion and the swish modern ones in the Spa Building are majestic. Dining in Humphrey’s will be at least the match of anything in this list.
The striking monument at the bottom of Stoke Park’s practice area is of Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634) a former Solicitor General and Speaker of the House of Commons, who was tenant of the estate from 1598. He was the country’s first Chief Justice and as Attorney General tried Guy Fawkes and Sir Walter Raleigh among others. Something to muse on as you deliver punishment to the practice balls.
The resort concept was created by Nick Pa Lane Jackson, a true Corinthian sportsman who had leased the property for fifty years, discovered the idea whilst visiting America, and made the decision to follow the idea in England, a successful concept that has been honed and polished into the resort of today. It is one of only two AA Five star golf clubs in England, and has twenty seven holes originally designed by renowned architect Harry S Colt. The three loops all carry significant titles, the first nine has been christened The Colt Course, holes ten to eighteen which were renovated in the winter of 2016-17, is The Allison Course (named after the partner of Harry Colt) and the final nine holes of the twenty seven is The Lane Jackson Course, after the founder. This loop will be upgraded during this winter; work is under way to complete the three year renovation programme for all the twenty seven holes.
The owners of Stoke Park, the King family, will have overseen a complete overhaul of the award winning venue over three winters, the first two loops re-opened to much acclaim in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The official date for the opening of the final nine, which was used for potato growing during World War 11 and not fully restored until 1998, is 20th April 2018. The renovation will respect the original Colt concepts but ensure they are suitable for play in the 21st Century. The resort is set in 300 acres of beautiful parkland, historic land which was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. The Repton Bridge much photographed and easily recognised is named after the gardener Humphrey, who took over the mantle after Capability Brown.
In acclaiming Stoke Park as UK Resort of the Year, Square Mile explained “As Stoke Park moves into its 110th year of operation, the Buckinghamshire resort shows no sign of falling behind the times. Holes 1 to 18 of the Harry Colt designed course are now open for play, with the refurbishment creating a more defined course with better framed hole designs. It’s an exciting, albeit necessary improvement worthy of such a historic golfing destination”. The instantly recognisable clubhouse, winner of the award, dates from the late 18th century, and was designed by Crown James Wyatt – it became synonymous with golf because of the James Bond scene in the film Goldfinger. Wyatt was among the most fashionable architects of his time, and had been commissioned by John Penn, grandson of William Penn who founded Pennsylvania. The house sits on the highest point of the 300 acres of gardens landscaped by Capability Brown in 1750.
22 TEE TIMES | February 2018
Stoke Park is steeped in history, bearing numerous links through it’s nomenclature, is acknowledged for the majestic clubhouse, one of the most iconic in the world, superb golf courses, as well as excellent tennis facilities and a state of the art health club. Everything a club member or visitor could possibly wish for, and sited just 35 minutes from London and eight miles from Heathrow Airport. Michael Rees
Published on Jan 23, 2018