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Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club sits alongside The Belfry and Celtic Manor after retaining national award

Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club is basking in the glory of retaining a national award – something that sees them rubbing shoulders with some of the sport’s most famous venues.

The 59club Awards are determined by scores collected from impartial mystery shopping audits, which evaluate the experience afforded to visiting golfers and prospective members in accordance with the organisation’s objective benchmarking criteria.

And just as they did in 2019, Stoke-by-Nayland scooped the Ultimate Service Award – an accolade which recognises a club’s dedication to engage, analyse and enrich their member and guest experiences.

Stoke-by-Nayland's director of golf Karl Hepple is delighted the club has retained its national prize. Picture: Mark Westley
Stoke-by-Nayland's director of golf Karl Hepple is delighted the club has retained its national prize. Picture: Mark Westley

Other clubs recognised in the awards, hosted by presenter and broadcaster Dan Walker, included the likes of The Belfry, Foxhills, Celtic Manor and Gleneagles.

Stoke-by-Nayland’s director of golf Karl Hepple said: “The platform 59 gives us allows us to understand the experience our members and guests are getting at the club.

“We can enhance things and ensure we doing so with the approval of those who use the course.

“To win it for a second year is fantastic, especially when you look at all of the high profile venues that are involved.

“We don’t do it for the want or desire of awards, we do it for the customers, but it’s still nice to be recognised at a national level alongside that calibre of clubs.”

One particular pleasing aspect of the success is that it was achieved during a global pandemic in which everything changed.

Golf clubs had to implement restrictions and rules that had previously been unthinkable.

Hepple added: “That was key to it (winning the award) being so pleasing. Last year was so, so different and we had to evolve quite a lot.

“We took the opinion of members because that is ultimately the most important thing.

“It was a really difficult year for everyone but we still managed to produce a good experience for the members.”

Now, Hepple and the team at Stoke-by-Nayland are concentrating on continuing to deliver the goods in 2021.

The course reopened on Monday after more than three months of lockdown, and while he is expecting further challenges, Hepple is confident the standards will not slip.

“It was nice to retain it but now we want to be able to go bigger and better at next year’s awards,” he said. “We are aiming slightly higher in 2021.

“It’s all systems go with golf being back and we’ve got everything in place.

“We’ve used the feedback from last year to make some changes and we are always learning, especially at the moment.

“It’s probably going to be another challenging year but we are in a good place.”

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