The 300th anniversary of the birth of the great engineer, landscape architect and entrepreneur Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown will be celebrated throughout the summer and autumn of 2016 – not least at the five AA Red Star Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel in Buckinghamshire, where 21st century golfers still enjoy the fruits of his labour to this day
Words: Mark Kebble
For it was Capability Brown who, in 1750, drew up the landscape plan for the Stoke Park estate as we know it today. He wouldn’t have imagined, however, that almost 300 years later it would be a world-renowned country club and sporting venue – although, admittedly, it had a bit of help from the legendary golf course designer Harry Colt along the way.
Stoke Park is one of just two five AA Red Star golf clubs in England. Laid out across 300 acres of landscaped parkland – featuring Brown-designed lakes, historic gardens and monuments – the 27-hole golf course was created by Colt and opened in 1908.
The signature hole is the 172-yard, par-three seventh, the inspiration for the original 16th at Augusta National when Alister MacKenzie – who had worked at Stoke Park alongside Colt – created the legendary Georgia course. It is a classic hole among many and was described recently by leading UK golf magazine Golf World as ‘effectively three world-class par-three holes rolled into one’.
And this year – along with the other eight holes on the front nine – it presents a new challenge. During the 2015/16 winter all bunkers on the first nine holes underwent major refurbishment to both shape and size, although their renowned strategic positioning remains. By common consent, among members and media, the changes have improved the course both aesthetically and as a golfing experience.
The next two winters will see the same work carried out on the remaining 18 holes, while always keeping 18 available for play. So, in the summer of 2018, one of the most photographed holes in English golf, the 21st – featuring the iconic Repton Bridge, named after gardener Humphry Repton, who picked up the mantle at Stoke Park from Brown – will have a different appearance.
The historic course played host to the PGA Matchplay in 1910 and, even more famously, the golf match between Sean Connery’s James Bond and Auric Goldfinger
The historic course played host to the PGA Matchplay in 1910 and, even more famously, the golf match between Sean Connery’s James Bond and Auric Goldfinger, in the 1964 film Goldfinger. And the instantly recognisable Georgian mansion clubhouse was voted recently the fifth most iconic in world golf by Golf.com.
Stoke Park also offers fantastic practice facilities including their state-of-the-art swing studio with Trackman and the latest V1 software. Elegance, history, celebrity, playability… Stoke Park has it all. Capability Brown would be proud.
For information about Golf Memberships, call 01753 71 71 79 or see stokepark.com