Years back at Dove Mountain’s Accenture Match Play, during an interview with the Molinari Brothers after their recent World Cup win, we asked about golf in Italy for tourists and Edoardo said they had some nice courses, but the government was not really promoting it. Fast forward to 2022 and Rome is readying for the ’23 Ryder Cup and recently hosted the IGTM (International Golf Travel Market) with record attendance. Yes, Italy is on the golf map but only in combination with their rich culture, geography, and history. Here are a few of our suggested combos.
Milan is the fashion city of Italy with an easy airport for navigation and the nearby Golf Club Castelconturbia. Recommended by LPGA Hall of Famer Giulia Sergas, three nines designed by Robert Trent Jones Senior run through the woods below the Swiss Alps. Monte Rosa was freshly frosted with snow like a gigantic wedding cake the day we played. Tee times and trolleys (pushcarts) are arranged with the secretariat in the clubhouse. Take the given slip to the caddy master and you are on your way.
Our trolley wasn’t noted, and master Francesco joked, “She’s Inamorata,” meaning in love and not thinking. She laughed and made the note. Member Vittoria, shared course knowledge and a little Italian golf lingo. Bella pala is a good shot. Hole is boca. Bunker is the same, bunker.
The introductory boca on the Blue Course is a par 5 snake pattern with a creek interfering along the left and crossing 60 yards before the fairway. Step close to look for balls and tiny Italian frogs leap in the water. The course is posted as a wildlife sanctuary.
The Blue, Yellow, and Red courses converge on their 9th holes as the greens line up in front of the restaurant for a gallery of happy patrons. Many come from Germany, Switzerland and even the smallest country with no golf courses – Liechtenstein.
The older hotel has spacious rooms with balconies that are open room to room for socialization with views of the course. Half board reservations mean room, breakfast, and a set dinner included. Three courses with a few choices are offered for the dinner, like ravioli stuffed with shrimp and crab to start, then saltimbocca with roasted potatoes, crisped on outside and for us, tiramisu with two spoons. Wine is extra and a bottle of regional Barbera is beautifully paired for just 29 euros.
We were inamoratos with Italy.
Lake Como is reached from Milan in an hour by train or car which is the more thrilling way. We climbed the steep, narrow road with constant sharp curves, in awe of the ancient structures hugging the sides. While a few golf courses avail, the lake is the main draw with little mountain villages along the shores. We rented an Airbnb on a high street in Bellagio and walked the many cobblestone trails filled with shops and restaurants.
A day ticket for the different lake vessels between villages is a bargain for 14 euros. Hop on, hop off, stroll, and enjoy watching people. The architecture of the hotels, and homes is astounding as you sail across the shimmering clear water with the snowcapped mountains above.
Cruising, shopping, and dining at leisure is the ultimate way to experience the rich and famous lifestyle of Lake Como without breaking your bank. Next trip we might make time for golf there.
Venice is the Canal City with Marco Polo Airport for more flight options. Known for romantic gondola rides through side canals, the Vaporetto barges cruise the entire grand canal for again an affordable daily rate.
Venezia (in Italian) is a maze of alleys and canals leading to St. Mark’s Square or Piazza San Marco, lit at night with overwhelming grandeur as little orchestras strike an emotional chord.
Many warn against visiting in the summer due to heat and congestion but our one night in October was unforgettable.
When you play at Veneto Golf Course you are glamorously chauffeured on a polished wood, water taxi. The course was built in the 30s when Henry Ford wanted to play on holidays in Venice but then Mussolini came into power before completion and secretly met Hitler on the course at the beginning of their love story. The original links style is now parkland and while Ford never played there, many Americans enjoy it today.
Slovenia is the country next door and you will not regret slipping over its border after Venice. Everyone speaks English and customs takes less than 5 minutes through your car window. The three-hour views to and on Royal Bled Golf Club are spectacular with high snowcapped mountains, valleys, and castles.
Slovenia is the cleanest country and Royal Bled Golf Club is very pristine. Maintenance crew members are loaned to professional venues, even the Masters. The views are distracting but pay attention to distances with elevated tee boxes and water hazards.
The full 18-hole course is complemented by the very hilly 9-hole Lakes Course. Sand in bunkers is sculptured like a work of art, several heart-shaped like the wooden shutters framing the windows on the sweet alpine restrooms. Old, ornate faucets deliver pure alpine water.
Guests are treated like royalty at Royal Bled and receive a personalized locker card. Limited bedrooms are available to stay on property. The suite above the clubhouse is simply precious with a claw tub in the living room under sky lights for a sultry soak after an active day of golf, e-biking or hiking around Lake Bled, one of the most photographed spots on earth.
Asiago is an ancient town back in Italy, situated on a high plateau at the base of the dolomites, 95 minutes from Venice. The ascent to the altiplano is even more daring than to Lake Como, with ten “tornantes” or steep u turn curves on a narrow road with fast traffic. The valley miniaturizes below, and paragliders soar above. Edoardo Molinari is the ambassador in the Asiago Golf brochure.
The course is a gorgeous, hilly workout pushing the trolley through an Italian forest opening to a pasture where Asiago cheese making cows are chewing grass with bells jingling on their necks.
Mountains and the village with steeples, spires, and the World War One memorial loom large in the background. The downtown plaza is very charming while the memorial is enlightening where over 50k soldiers from both sides are buried? Over 100k died in the onsite battle.
Meltar Boutique Hotel adjoins the Asiago Golf Course and has lavish suites with hooded robes and Julieta balconies for al fresco gazing at the alpine landscape. Wear the robes to the Mountain SPA below and lounge outside or soak in the pools with the pine wood and golf views. Opt for the cold plunge or cocoon in the saunas and choose from an array of unique treatments.
Breakfast is included with Mariella’s welcoming smile. Fabulous lunch and dinners are served in the clubhouse with a grappa digestive after. Meltar Boutique Hotel and Asiago Golf are a dream combo and one that Giulia Sergas includes in her Italy Dream Golf tours.
Tuscany is the Italian region most famous for wine and wellness and Terme di Saturnia, Natural Destination delivers both. The entrance is surprising as almost everyone in the lobby and walking the halls are wearing bathrobes. Aromatic water or Champagne welcomes guests by the reception desk. The golf desk is straight ahead for checking in with Francesco who speaks perfect English. We share laughter as we try our best imperfect Italian. The deluxe room is exquisite, and amenities exceed expectations.
Tuscany connotes rolling hills painted with olive groves, vineyards, and castles spiked with cypress and that is what you espy from every hole on the golf course. The layout crosses a creek periodically requiring calculated layups for short knockers. After a rain, groundskeepers were busy grooming for the national final of the BMW Golf Cup.
The golf is great, but the main draw is the thermal pools like no other in the world, originating right at the resort alongside the breakfast room and bar where most guests don their robes. The main pool is huge enough, yet flows into various pools for resort guests then public access and on to the famous cascades. The turquoise water is warm with floating bioplankton, a magical alga with healing properties. Grab a noodle and float aimlessly, lounge, sauna and repeat. It is a calming, contemplative experience. Leave the robes in your room for dinner and do check out the fine spa, boutique, and wine shop with local sources like Tenuta Montauto, a nearby winery to tour. Other day trips might lead to Florence and Pisa.
Rome is the heart of Italy and days may be spent touring the Colosseum, Vatican, Trevi, and many other fountains and ancient sites. North of the city, in the southern tip of Tuscany, is a promontory with a special retreat – Argentario Golf Resort. Don’t let the rugged entry road fool you. The gate opens to extraordinary views from the get-go.
The PGA National Golf Course of Italy was preparing for the Senior Italian Open and the agronomy team was in harmony protecting the greens and detailing the bunkers. It is carved through lush vegetation, with little lizards darting in and out.
There are nice elevations to appreciate the mountain to sea scenery. Restrooms have giant resort maps as a reminder of how much acreage guests may enjoy. The 13th fairway is split by an island forest and above 14, the olive grove was being harvested.
In the clubhouse, Nicola gave us an olive oil lesson and tasting with our dinner that included phenomenal shrimp and pepper tempura and a crazy version of tiramisu with wine pairings while Senior Pros were settling in.
The ultra-modern ebony and ivory decor of the main resort accentuates the circular architecture with open air lighting. Historic black and white sports photos hang in the curved halls. Beautiful bedrooms open to balconies looking out to the mountain and sea. Choose from sea tours and wellness options. All is well at Argentario.
In Rome there are several nice courses but soon to be most famous is Marco Simone Golf and Country Club as host to the 2023 Ryder Cup. Built on a hillside with ample space for cheering fans, the charming course overlooks farmland with rustic and modern architecture. It is not long by PGA standards, but caddies will have to adjust distances due to the severe false fronts and side greens. The rough will be increased and fairways narrowed in defense of today’s power players.
The clubhouse is already stocked with Ryder cup merch and golf carts marked with USA and Europe are poised for photos. Rooms at Duca d’Este down the road are still available for the Ryder Cup. Whether you go then, or any other time, Francesca Galeana at Golf Tour Experience has your back for planning the best Italian golf trip. Any day in Italy is as memorable as a buca in uno.
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