Italy is known for fine wines, exquisite cuisine, art, culture and a history that spans thousands of years, with so much on offer, visitors frequently overlook the excellent golfing pedigree of the country. Italy is home to some of Europe’s leading golf courses and when you put this together with its incredible historic and natural scenery, it is impossible to overlook it as one of the great golfing destinations.
Becoming the host nation of the Ryder Cup 2023, it has unquestionably bolstered Italy’s reputation as a prime golfing destination and placed it on the map for all the world to see. Francesco Molinari’s victory at the 2018 Open Championship has also given Italian golf a boost that it so richly deserves.
The Marco Simone Golf & Country Club is one of the most prestigious golf courses in Italy and will host the Ryder Cup in 2023. Located just eleven miles from central Rome, it opened in 1989. The championship course is 6,937 yards and is a true test, with a challenging and engaging layout featuring tree-lined narrow fairways, lakes and numerous elevation changes. Every hole has its own distinctive signature and playing this course is predictably a thrill.
Marco Simone GC is named after an 11th century castle located on the course which is home to fashion designer Laura Biagiotti, the owner of the course. Ahead of the tournament, the course will be completely renovated, but numerous holes are imbued with so much character, few changes should be necessary. The 2nd hole is the most photographed; a beautiful 187 yard, par 3, with a small lake protecting the green and the castle in the background. The 16th hole is an absolute challenge. It is a demanding uphill 550 yard, par 5, with a narrow creek running all the way from tee to the green requesting supreme accuracy. On a clear day, Rome and Saint Peter’s Basilica can be seen from the 17th and 18th tees of this exceptional country club.
Also located in Rome, the Acquasanta Golf Club proves the adage that with age comes beauty. The course is considered to be the oldest in Italy and each year is ranked as one of Italy’s finest. First laid out in 1903, it is a product of the era it was created in. Relatively short at 6,600 yards, its par 71 poses golfers with a different kind of challenge. Players must be precise in their stroke play especially when playing the 17th hole, which is downhill towards the green, guarded by deep bunkers and streams. Hazards have earned their name around Acquasanta, since landing in one will almost certainly leave you dropping a shot. Beauty and history abound, but it is precise play that rewards players at Acquasanta.
Located north of Rome along the Via Cassia, the Olgiata Golf Club is a magnificent classic tree-lined parkland golf course. Opened 1961, it features 27 holes. Olgiata has hosted many important international tournaments including the Eisenhower Trophy in 1964, the World Cup in 1968 and 1984, the European Tour Italian Open in 1973 and 2002 and the Challenge Tour Roma Open in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The West Course underwent an extensive renovation project in 2010, changing 15 of the course’s holes. For championship play, the West Course is 7,159 yards long and is one of the few par 73 courses in Italy. It features a challenging layout, surrounded by trees and picturesque villas, with undulating fairways, elevation changes and strategically placed bunkers. Water hazards come into play on several holes, such as small creeks designed to protect some of the course’s notoriously fast greens.
To the north of Italy, Circolo Golf Villa D’Este is located in Montorfano, a town in the province of Como. With the magnificent Lake Montorfano as the centerpiece, the 6,330 yard course winds its way through uniformly arranged ash and pine trees, so accuracy on drives for the par 69 round are critical. Circolo Golf Villa D’Este was built in 1926 and its narrow fairways demand constant precision throughout the round, testing even the most talented golfer’s skills.
Set against the stunning backdrop of Sicily’s charming coastline, Verdura is a paradise resort for golfers looking to enjoy the epic Mediterranean sun. As hotel magnate Sir Rocco Forte’s first golf resort offering, no expense was spared in the creation of the Verdura Golf Resort and Spa. It ranks among the finest golf holiday destinations in the world. Located in the town of Sciacca in the Province of Agrigento, the two championship golf courses were designed by world renowned Kyle Phillips. The courses are reminiscent of some of the oldest and finest links that line the Scottish coast. Each measures roughly 7,400 yards. With fairways that are bordered by breathtaking drops to the sandy beaches below, Verdura golf course is not for the faint hearted, but it is a five-star experience that is the dream of countless golfers.
Nestled among the rolling Tuscan hills of northern Italy, the highly acclaimed golf course at the Poggio Dei Medici resort is a masterpiece of golf design. A testament to its challenging play, the 7,073 yard course played host to the Italian Open on the Ladies European Tour from 1999 to 2003. The rolling hills of the Mugello region were skillfully manipulated to create a fascinating and varied par 72 challenge, where the breathtaking views over the enchanting countryside add to the majesty of this course. UNA Poggio Dei Medici boasts lavish accommodations, based around the 16th century Villa di Cignano. With views out over the golf course and the valley beyond, it is a spectacular place to stay, with multiple swimming pools and three outstanding restaurants to add to the experience.
Massimo Ferragamo, son of the famous shoe company founder, Salvatore Ferragamo, came to Tuscany in 2003 on the lookout for a modest Brunello vineyard and ended up buying a town. Today, Castiglion del Bosco consists of the winery, 23-room hotel, 11 villas, two restaurants, a spa and a Tom Weiskopf-designed par 72 golf course. Situated in the Val d’Orcia, the Tuscan personality of the Castiglion del Bosco Golf Club is conveyed by its unspoiled natural setting dotted with cypress trees. This prestigious course, which is 7,187 yards in length from the back tees, offers an unparalleled playing experience in Italy’s only private golf club to be set within a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the tees to the greens, this beautiful estate provides a picturesque landscape where the core values of the game are in evidence on each and every hole.
Set in the stunning La Mandria Park, in Turin, Royal Park I Roveri Golf Club ranks as one of Italy’s best. Designed by legendary golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., it opened in 1971. The two courses include the original 7,180 yard course and a newer one opened in 2006 that has a span of 7,230 yards. Both are characterized by dramatic bunkers, beautiful water hazards and undulating greens which can be home to some tricky flag positions. The amazing array of flora and fauna that reside at the Royal Park Golf Club combined with the Alpine backdrop, make it one of Italy’s most picturesque golf courses. At just seven miles from the airport, many golfers waste little time hopping off the plane and straight onto the par 72 courses.
With so much to offer from the north to the south, for those who are looking for some fun in the sun on some of Europe’s leading championship courses, be sure to make Italy your next golf holiday destination.