Oh brother! What a place to play

Michael Smyth
Tue, 20 Apr 2010

Tuscany has nine 18-hole courses and six nine-hole layouts and playing golf in the region represents a journey back in time as the golfer wanders the fairways surrounded by historical buildings and ancient villas.

Both Poggio dei Medici, in northern Tuscany and the David Mezzacane-designed Argentario golf clubs have staged the Italian Ladies Opens in recent years while Montecatini, Toscana and Punta Ala also offer perfect havens for serious golfers.

Cross the border and venture south towards Rome and many beautiful courses can be played all year thanks to the ideal climate of the city.

Le Querce, which has been compared favourably with Sunningdale and Wentworth, and Olgiata are regularly ranked in the top ten courses in the country and have both staged Italian Opens, while Parco dei Medici with its many water hazards, offers a real challenge, too.

Situated in the crater of an extinct volcano, Castelgandolfo offers  the chance to sample the unique experience of playing Robert Trent Jones’ course overlooked by with the Pope’s summer residence, while further north, Emilia Romagna offers the chance to the chance to play upto 20 courses while combining visits to the Lamborghini, Ferrari and Ducati motor museums.

By its own admission the tourist body in Italy admits that golf is something that has been overlooked in the past but is a feature that's part of a longer term strategy to get bums on beds and spikes on tees. It was clear that with the combination of an idyllic climate, wine, history and culture, Italy has all the ingredients needed for a golf holiday.

FOOTNOTE: The best of a bad bunch on 31 points off four handicap my score was enough to take the overall first prize on this enlightening media day over the elevations of the Old Thorns course. For the record I won a lovely hamper of Italian goodies, the highlight of which was a classic bottle of Barolo which is talking to me on a nightly basis from the wine rack. It's only a matter of time, as it will be before I tee it up in Italy.

*For more information about golf in Italy visit www.italiantouristboard.co.uk and to following in the footsteps of Seve Ballesterous, log onto Old Thorns Manor .



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