Stoke Park Golf Course

Nominated by: Maggie Scott
Stoke Park Club during spring. Aerial of golf course / clubhouse and pavilion.

Stoke Park Golf Course is situated in Stoke Poges and for over a century it has has been one of the top places to play golf.  It was opened in July 1908 by ‘Nick “Pa” Lane Jackson as part of the first English golf and country club.  Shortly after the club opened many well-known people in society, including royalty, came to play.  In 1910 it hosted the first PGA Matchplay tournament and many other significant tournaments followed.

Stoke Park’s 27-hole championship golf course (originally designed as a 45-hole course) was created by a great golf architect, Harry Colt.  He was fortunate to be able to remodel an already beautifully designed landscape.  Centuries earlier, landscape gardeners, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (regarded as England’s greatest gardener) and Humphry Repton, often regarded as the successor to “Capability” Brown; had shaped the lakes and created truly wonderful vistas.  In the early 19th century it was a training ground for Bucks Yeomanry cavalry and for a longer period had been a fine deer park.  It is believed that Sir Edwin Landseer painted “the Monarch of the Glen” there during one of his many stays at Stoke Park.  There is even a scheduled monument of a bowl barrow, probably from around 2000BC between fairways.  During WW2 Stoke Park Golf Club played its part, turning 27 holes over to agriculture as part of the initiative to grow food in times of harsh rationing.

Nowadays, this course has an extraordinary close relationship to Pinewood Studios (four miles away) and the British film industry.  On looking at the fine Grade 1 listed, Georgian mansion house from the practice putting green it reminds one of Daniel Craig being gunned down on the steps in the film, “Layer Cake”.   Walking along the fairway beside the lake, a vision of Hugh Grant falling from a rowing boat in the film, “Bridget Jones’s Diary”; and walking up the closing fairway viewers of The Apprentice will recall Lord Sugar landing his helicopter and then setting his Apprentices a challenge.  Yet the ultimate film, making it the most iconic golf scene in the world, has to be Sean Connery as James Bond in the epic golfing duel in the 1964 classic 007 movie ‘Goldfinger’, or perhaps Oddjob (the henchman to Goldfinger) chopping off the head of a stone statue with his deadly hat.  Remember the gold bar being dropped on the putting green?  The filming here led to Sean Connery’s own “lifelong love affair with golf”.

There are reminders of Buckinghamshire heritage with views down a fairway or through an avenue of trees. These include St Giles’ church where Thomas Gray, the poet is buried; Gray’s Monument (National Trust); the Sir Edward Coke monument; the Manor house (home to Lady Cobham of Stowe).  Then the view to the south of Eton College and Windsor castle.

This is not just any old golf course; it is one that regularly features in tables for the top 100 golf courses in the world and top 10 golf courses in England.  It should also feature as a top golf course for filming, heritage and leisure.

Stoke Park Golf Course was nominated by Maggie Scott.