Stoke Park will reopen as a golf club after being acquired by Asia's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, the club has confirmed to the Bucks Free Press. 

The luxury hotel and golf club in Stoke Poges has been closed for renovation since its takeover in 2021 by the Indian billionaire's company, Reliance Industries.

The multinational conglomerate acquired the shares of the 300-acre country estate for £57mn from Stoke Park Limited, which already held the lease. Buckinghamshire Council still owns the freehold.

Golfers and residents have expressed anger at Stoke Park’s continued closure and at rumours that the family plans to use the estate as a private home, which Reliance denies.

But Stoke Park and Buckinghamshire councillors have told the Bucks Free Press this week that Stoke Park will reopen to golfers.

Asked if the golf club will reopen, a spokesperson said: “Yes. We are committed to enhancing and restoring the Stoke Park facilities to deliver a world class hotel and golf course, and to restore and enhance the heritage assets and parkland for the benefit of future generations.”

They added: “The plans for the golf course and clubhouse are tremendously exciting and these will be shared with you as soon as we are in a position to do so.

“As soon as we are in a position to do so we will be having public consultations and inviting local residents and neighbours to Stoke Park to see the plans.”

Andrew Wood, the Conservative Councillor for nearby Gerrards Cross claimed that Stoke Park would reopen as an ‘exclusive club’, similar to Gleneagles in Scotland.

A statement on Stoke Park’s website says Reliance Industries intends to ‘restore the golf course to its former glory and make Stoke Park a club suitable for championship golf and daily play’.

Stoke Park’s 27-hole championship golf course was designed by Harry Colt in 1908 and was opened in July 1909.

The estate has said it is working with golf architect Tom Mackenzie to review and upgrade of the course to bring the it ‘up to the standard expected of an 18-hole championship level course’.

However, the club is set to scrap its membership when it eventually reopens, Stoke Park’s golf director Stuart Collier announced in December.

In an open letter to golfers, he said a membership model ‘would not be financially viable and certainly not inclusive’.

He stressed the need for Stoke Park to remain as part of the local community, adding that the most likely way to operate the golf course would be as a high-end ‘pay and play’ destination.

A Stoke Park spokesperson told the Bucks Free Press: “As part of the evolving vision of Stoke Park’s future, a more inclusive ‘pay and play’ model for golf has been formulated to provide wider access to the world class golf facilities.

“This provides us with a model through which we can host high profile professional tournaments in the future whilst providing the opportunity for everyone to play the course.

“We anticipate there being a preferred rate for past members of Stoke Park and local residents.”

However, Thomas Hogg, the Conservative Councillor for Stoke Poges & Wexham, raised concerns that by scrapping its club membership, Stoke Park could price out some golfers.

He said: “The plans that they have got seem good apart from the membership issues.

“I would prefer to have a membership option so that people can come together in the beautiful place that is Stoke Park.

“The important thing for me is that it is affordable for local people.”

Councillor Wood said he was optimistic about Stoke Park’s golf plans, but acknowledged the frustration of his fellow golfers at being denied access to the estate’s existing course.

He said: “I have been quite involved and I have been a member of the club. People were upset that it closed down so quickly.

“What I’ve found is that there is a gentleman that lives on the periphery of Stoke Park, who is causing most of the issues.

“I think they [The Ambanis] are being made to look like villains and I don’t think they are villains. We’ve only been hearing from one guy.”