Published on : Tuesday, January 17, 2017
A new international membership available from England’s historic Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel – located in a Georgian mansion dating from 1788 – offers a unique opportunity to experience a traditional country house atmosphere, award-winning cuisine and outstanding contemporary leisure pursuits all for less than US$2,500 per year.
Set within 300 acres of beautiful historic private parkland – which was even recorded in the seminal Domesday Book of 1086 – Stoke Park, one of just two five-AA Red Star golf clubs in England, is just seven miles from London’s Heathrow Airport and is the ideal stopover for visits to the country’s capital city.
Its 27 holes of golf were designed by the legendary Harry Colt in 1908, on land landscaped by the equally revered Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, designer of more than 170 of the country’s great parks and regarded as ‘England’s greatest gardener’.
Colt was involved in the creation – or redesign – of more than 300 golf courses across the globe, including the Wentworth Club, London; British Open venues Muirfield and Royal Liverpool (Hoylake); the world-renowned Royal County Down, in Ireland; Hamilton Golf & Country Club, Canada; Monterey Peninsula, Pine Valley, and Sea Island, among others, in the USA.
Such was his influence and creative genius that Colt also had a hand in the design of Augusta National, albeit indirectly. Augusta designer Alister MacKenzie (1870-1934) was part of Colt’s original Stoke Park design team and a partner in the short-lived practice of Colt, MacKenzie & Alison. And MacKenzie took inspiration from Colt’s seventh hole at Stoke Park when laying out the original 16th at the home of the US Masters, before the latter was amended in the 1940s.
Celebrity spotting is unavoidable in the hotel – Elton John sang to 5,000 people and raised more than US$1,000,000 for SportsAid here in 2014 – and, if it looks familiar, it provided the iconic backdrop for the golf match between Sean Connery’s James Bond and Auric Goldfinger, in the 1964 film, Goldfinger. It was also where Daniel Craig’s gangster in the cult British film Layer Cake met his end.
The ‘Colt International Membership’ is available only to those whose permanent residence is outside of the UK and entitles the holder to up to 12 rounds of golf, plus all the usual country club member benefits. And all for less than US$2,500 per year.
The prestigious club’s director of golf, Stuart Collier, explained: “Arguably, there’s never been a better time to be a member here – with the possible exception of 1908 when Colt laid out the course. Recent renovation work to the bunkering has taken the course to a whole new level and we have one the country’s leading chefs in the three AA-rosette Humphry’s restaurant.
“When you consider that visitor green-fee rates at Stoke Park can cost more than US$285 it becomes clear just what good value the new international membership offers, all in an environment with unrivalled history and a winning blend of traditional country club and 21st-century facilities.”
During the winter of 2015/16, every bunker on the Colt course – the first nine holes of the historic 27-hole layout – underwent major renovation to both shape and size, as part of a seven-figure investment in a facelift of the whole course. And this winter, a similar overhaul of the Alison course – holes nine to 18 – is underway as Stoke Park looks to bring the second nine into line with the aesthetic quality and playability the front nine now enjoys.