If you love films as much as you love golf, then Stoke Park really is the perfect venue for you!
This beautiful, historic venue has provided the backdrop for many classic movie moments, from James Bond to Bridget Jones.
Possibly the most famous movie moment came from the 1964 Bond film ‘Goldfinger’, in which Bond defeats Auric Goldfinger in a match at Stoke Park, although for many the real star was Goldfinger’s man servant Oddjob and his steel brimmed hat.
Bond was to be back at Stoke Park again in 1997 with scenes from Tomorrow Never Dies filmed inside the ballroom of the impressive hotel. The Bond link doesn’t end there, as 2004’s cult British movie, Layer Cake, starring current 007 Daniel Craig, with many scenes including the famous end scene starring Craig and Sienna Miller being set on the front steps of the hotel.
And from one suave Englishman to another, ladies favourite Hugh Grant starred in Bridget Jones’ Diary, taking a rowing boat out on the glistening lake, before retiring back to the club’s grand Pennsylvania Suite, with its stunning views back over the 350 acre estate.
Anyway, before we get too Hollywood on you, we’ll talk about the golf course, after all, that’s what you really want to know about!
Stoke Park boasts 27 superb holes of championship golf, and was originally designed over 100 years ago by none other than Harry S Colt, who also had a hand in the design of Augusta National, and has been modified in recent years to offer one of the finest parkland courses in the UK.
There are few places in the UK that can match Stoke Park for grandiose and elegance.
The 545 yard opening hole offers a great start to your round as you tee off in front of the magnificent mansion. Whilst the fairway is wide and forgiving, there is plenty of sand around, especially around the green, so an accurate approach is essential if you are to start with a par or better.
Bunkers continue to play a prominent role throughout the course, with plenty of sand making club selection and sound course management vital, especially in the case of holes such as the 5th, 6th and 8th holes, where laying back off the tee is far more likely to yield a par than going with the driver. It is the par 3 7th though that sticks longest in the memory.
For any golf fan that stays up to watch the US Masters each year, the par 3 16th will be all too familiar. It is here of course that Tiger Woods famously chipped in back in 2005 from what seemed an impossible position. Well, Augusta’s 16th is in fact based on the 7th at Stoke Park! Standing on the tee you instantly find yourself imagining you’re in Augusta, with just a large pond standing between you, a par and an imaginary green jacket! (For the record I pushed my tee shot to the far corner of the green and then sent a 70ft putt up and across the green to finish just 3 inches from the cup to tap in for par. Anything Tiger can do and all that!)
Another reminder of Augusta at Stoke Park are the azaleas and rhododendrons. When they are in bloom the course is awash with colour and a real treat for the eyes.
They are particularly stunning at the 156-yard 11th hole, which is another exceptional par 3. Despite being no more than an 8 or 9 iron, the tee shot requires you to play through an avenue of trees and over water to a severely undulating green protected by sand from all sides, so a solid, straight strike is needed if you are to keep your card intact.
The 7th at Stoke Park was is said to have been the inspiration for the 16th at Augusta.
While there are plenty of features at Stoke Park that set it apart from other courses in the area, the quality of the greens is simply outstanding! As true as you are likely to find anywhere and very quick to boot. Add in plenty of undulations and tricky pin positions and you will need to be in good form with the putter if you’re to score well.
The 18th follows a really strong trio of holes, in particular the 17th which is the stand out par 4 on the course, and takes players back up towards the mansion which sits grandly along the left side of the fairway offering a superb setting to end your round. Golfers taking on holes 19-27 will also be treated to some wonderful holes taking in the lake in which Hugh Grant famously rowed his boat in Bridget Jones’ Diary. Keep an eye out for the par 3 21st which is yet another stand out short hole over water.
Any round should always end in the 19th hole, which I guess is technically the 28th here, and Stoke Park affords some of the finest views possible. Pull up a seat in the Orangery and enjoy a refreshing drink and a bite to eat in its superbly British surroundings, with some fantastic views back over the estate.
Beyond the golf, Stoke Park also boasts top class outdoor grass courts that play host to the annual Boodles Challenge a week before Wimbledon, which will have you following the footsteps (if not the backhands) of legends such as Pete Sampras, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray.
The Spa at stoke Park will no doubt be an enjoyable part of your well deserved golf break at Stoke Park.
If tennis sounds a bit too much like hard work after a round of golf, then the fantastic spa will have leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed, perfect to get yourself back fit for another 18 holes.
A golf break to Stoke Park really is one that you won’t forget. From the moment you pull into the grand entrance and get your first glimpse of the beautiful mansion, you’ll find yourself enjoying some of the most opulent and luxurious surroundings of any venue in the UK. Add in the superb golf and leisure facilities and cinema history and it should be right at the top of your list for your next UK golf break.