Located on the outskirts of Rome and watched over by an ancient castle, Marco Simone promises to be an outstanding venue for a gladiatorial duel between Europe and the U.S. for the Ryder Cup. With punishing rough and natural amphitheatres surrounding the greens, the course is ideally set up for a blockbuster weekend of match-play golf.
Beating competition from Austria, Spain and Germany to hold the prestigious event, Marco Simone boasts spectacular views of the city of Rome and the surrounding countryside. With trouble lurking around every corner, we've taken a closer look at the course to provide you with a little more insight before the golf begins.
Let's get into it.
A former cricket analyst redesigned the Course
Originally designed by Jim Fazio and David Mezzacane in the late 1980s, the course has recently undergone a complete refurb overseen by Dave Sampson of European Golf Design (EGD).
Now an established figure in the world of course design, Sampson was first discovered after he entered a competition run by Golf World Magazine to design a hole for Linna in Finland, a course designed by EGD. A former landscape architect and cricket analyst, Sampson went on to win the competition.
EGD was so impressed by his design that they decided to hire him, and ten years later, he redesigned the course that will host the most prestigious team event in golf.
The final five holes are perfect for match play golf
We really hope that the majority of matches go deep this year, as the final five holes at Marco Simone have drama written all over them.
14th Hole - Par 4 - 495 yards
This long dogleg left par 4 will tempt players to cut the corner to shorten their second shot, but anything miscued will bring fearsome rough and a number of small trees into play. A deep bunker on the right of the green will swallow up any errant approaches, leaving a tricky third from well below the putting surface.
15th Hole - Par 4 - 478 yards
Another long par 4, the 15th, will tempt players into taking on the three fairway bunkers that line the right side of the fairway. In doing so, a far shorter second shot is the reward, but fail to carry them, and a long bunker shot awaits. Three more bunkers flank the right side of the large green. Make it on in two, and a par should come with relative ease, however, falling late in the routing, a birdie may be needed to continue the match, and it will be hard to come by.
16th Hole - Par 4 - 352 yards
Requiring a 300-yard drive to carry the creek that bisects the fairway, the 16th is perfectly set up for some match-play drama. A 200-yard iron shot to short of the centreline fairway bunker is the conservative play, but bolder golfers will likely try and go for the green in one.
A small lake guards the right side of the green, with bunkers separating it from the putting surface, so wayward tee shots will undoubtedly bring a lot of danger into play. We can't wait to see how this one plays out.
17th Hole - Par 3 - 206 yards
This long par 3 has one of the most demanding greens on the property. 15 yards wide with three tiers, tee shots will need to be near perfect to avoid potential disaster. If the rough can be avoided right of the target, a bank should usher the ball down onto the putting surface, but the same can't be said for the left-hand side. A steep bank lies in wait to usher balls down the hill, leading to a devilish chip to get up and down.
18th Hole - Par 5 - 626 yards
A beast of a hole, the 18th features one of the more inviting fairways on the course, allowing players to swing freely in an attempt to shorten their second shot as much as possible. The real games begin, though, with the approach shot. Likely requiring a 3-wood or long iron in, players will need to contest with a lake left of the green when weighing up whether to go for glory or play it safe.
As we saw at Le Golf National, we will likely witness both ecstasy and heartbreak in equal measure on the final hole. With every match that makes it to 18 still on the line, the final hole is perfectly set up to bring the Ryder Cup to a close in dramatic fashion.
The rough is THICK
No European Ryder Cup venue would be complete without some thick, punishing rough to gobble up wayward tee shots, and Marco Simone has certainly delivered just that.
All you need to do is take one look at Peter Finch's second (third, fourth & fifth) shots from just 8.7 yards off the fairway to see how brutal it's going to be for the players.
It's set up perfectly for spectators
Featuring plenty of elevation changes and natural amphitheatres around the greens, Marco Simone is beautifully set up for spectators. With outstanding views and atmospheric cauldrons located throughout the course, both the viewing experience and atmosphere promise to be top-notch.
The #RyderCupBuild is taking shape nicely. There is a real buzz on site as the stands and hospitality suites take shape. You can already picture the packed crowds, the excitement and drama that the #RyderCup2023 will bring. @rydercup @RyderCupEurope @RyderCupUSA @marcosimonegolf pic.twitter.com/6oqDfVb0uC— European Golf Design (@eurogolfdesign) July 13, 2023
With European fans unable to attend the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straights, you can be sure they will be back with a bang.
The 17th, in particular, will be an excellent spot to set up camp. The long par three, with a razor-thin green, could prove to be a pivotal hole in any of the matches, and the large grandstand to the left will be bouncing from day one.
A number of fairways have been pinched in
It would appear that in an attempt to negate the perceived length advantage Team USA has, a number of fairways have been pinched in at the landing zones of some of the longer hitters.
The 15th hole is a perfect example of this, while the fairway looks generous off the tee, when you get up to the 305-yard mark, it shortens dramatically to only 15 yards wide.
While distance is considered by many to be king, the setup of Marco Simone will place paramount importance on accuracy, too.
How you can play the course
Located only 10 miles outside of Rome, the course is a 30-minute taxi ride from the city centre. Open to visitors year-round, green fees vary from €45 for juniors up to €350 for general members of the public, depending on the time of the year.