This De Vere has one of the best courses attached to a resort outside the elite venues of Britain, says Chris Bertram.
Think golf resorts are basically fields of grass with a few flags stuck in the ground and a hotel attached? Some might well be – but certainly not this Northamptonshire venue.
The back story
De Vere Hotels is a collection of country estates and ancestral family seats that have been transformed into some of Britain’s most luxurious and characterful hotels. Some date back to 870AD, some have entertained Prime Ministers such as Winston Churchill, some have hosted royalty, such as King Edward VII. Some have golf courses attached.
The link to them all is the £100million restoration project that the group has undertaken in the past couple of years.
It means the likes of Selsdon Park in south London is now punching its considerable weight, and that venues such as Staverton Park are being continually refurbished to a high level.
Within the first three holes of Staverton Park you realise this is not standard resort golf.
You encounter a dramatically undulating topography on the 1st, which weaves and drops on an opening hole that doesn’t leave much in the tank.
But you wonder if that is just getting us away and it will be more steady stuff after that. Not so.
In fact, the 2nd is even better, playing up and over the top of a hill then down to a green partially hidden by a mound on the left.
The 3rd maintains the pace, a really cool right-to-left dog-leg with a mound on the inside of the hole obscuring the view of the green off the tee and also the water on the right by its side. So the hole only really unveils itself as you walk down the fairway.
The brave will take driver and try to go for it, risking the trees and water that lie in wait. The tortoises among us will hit a long iron to the corner and wedge on and hope for a birdie putt.
You might stop marvelling at how good this resort’s course is to notice the rough-edged bunkers that are usually only seen on elite-level courses with advisers and architects and renowned course managers involved.
They have them at Staverton as standard, and they make you love it that little bit more.
Anyway back to the 4th, which is an uphill hole with a tongue of apron that extends out between the bunkers protecting this wide green.
You’ve already seen enough of Staverton Park by now to know that whoever booked the stay-and-play here did a tremendous job of picking a venue.
And you haven’t even got to the hole most visitors will possibly remember mostly clearly, the epic risk-reward par-5 11th. Hug the right side off the tee and toy might have a look at taking in the stream that bisects the fairway
It is the highlight of a solid back nine that maintains the tempo of the opening half.
In very good condition even on the edge of winter – given its inland location – it is one of the best courses at British golf resort outside of the elite.
Surrounded by 150 acres of Northamptonshire parkland Staverton Estate’s hotel offers a comfortable and exceptionally good value play-and-stay option.
When we visited the refurbishment of the rooms was just getting underway. They were entirely acceptable as they were but, in line with the other refurbished we have seen De Vere undertake, we are sure the end result will be send the resort as a whole up a level.
The food is excellent, served in a stylish restaurant and offering modern takes on classics. The refurbished bar and new coffee shop Burr & Co. are perfect complements.
The leisure club is a two-minute walk from the hotel and has a gym, heated swimming pool, sauna, and spa pool.
Staverton Estate is convenient for the M1, M6, M40 as well as Birmingham airport.