Who is Marco Simone and why is the 2023 Ryder Cup course named after him?

Marco Simone is likely a name you've been hearing a lot recently. But who is he, and why does Italy's first Ryder Cup course bear his name?

Marco Simone
Marco Simone

Marco Simone Country Club, located just outside of Rome, is set to host the 44th iteration of the Ryder Cup this week, making it the first time the event will be held on Italian soil.

While the millions of fans at home and thousands in the the grounds of the course will be familiar with the name, it's likely few of them will know a great deal about who the course was named after.

So, to find out more about him, we did some digging to find out what exactly he did in order for a golf course to be named after him. 

Related: Six things you need to know about Ryder Cup course Marco Simone

To first meet Marco Simone, we will need to go back to the middle of the 1400s, before even the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews was founded. 

The son of nobleman Simone dei Tebraldo, Marco Simone was instrumental in the renovation of the 1,000-year-old castle that currently sits between the 6th and 8th holes of the golf course. 

Purchased by Tebraldo in 1457, the castle was in need of some TLC, and he and Simone were the ones responsible for the property's transformation.

After Simone's death, the estate was managed by a variety of nobility, with even famous astronomer Galileo Galilei residing in it in the 1600s.

As time passed, the iconic building fell into a state of disrepair, and it wasn't until 1978 that it was once again cared for by loving owners. 

The castle was purchased by Italian fashion designer Laura Biagiotti and her husband Gianni Cigna, who together renovated it over an extensive period before employing the help of golf course architect Jim Fazio to design the Marco Simone Golf Course. 

Discussing the renovation in an interview with the Marco Simone website, Biagiotti said:

"The restoration of Marco Simone's castle was like a madness that took me and that I followed gently. It was a pivotal choice in my life at 35 years.” 

The course opened for play in 1989, with the next pivotal chapter in its history coming when, in 2015, it won the bid to host the 2022 Ryder Cup. 

In anticipation of the event, Biagotti employed the assistance of Jim Fazio's son Tom in 2018 to renovate the course and bring it up to the Ryder Cup's high standards.

Since renovations were completed in 2020, the course has hosted the Italian Open for three successive years, with Poland's Adrian Meronk winning the tournament most recently in 2023. 

Sadly, despite being alive to witness the course win the bid to host the Ryder Cup, Biagiotti passed away in 2017, having suffered a heart attack. 

While Marco Simone was clearly an influential character in the course's history, it is undoubtedly Biagiotti who played the most pivotal role in bringing the Ryder Cup to Italy, and her name and influence will forever be entwined into the historical fabric of the iconic event. 


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