The course at Golf Bogliaco sits a hundred metres above Lake Garda, where tree-lined fairways offer glimpses of the azure waters below. Established by a local hotel owner to cater for foreign visitors in 1912, the original 9-hole layout has also been linked to the Beretta family, of gun making fame.
During World War II, it’s said to have been converted to an airfield by Mussolini then used as a baseball field for the American garrison before returning to its golfing roots in the early 1950s. Reckoned to be the third oldest course in all of Italy, Bogliaco was doubled in size to an 18-hole layout in 2004.
If you think a course measuring a mere 5,225 metres from the back markers (and playing to a par of 70) is going to be a pushover then think again as the slope rating from the tips (and the regular men’s tees) is 141. Seven of the ten par fours on the card are 320 metres or less in length but it’s precision play that matters here, not distance off the tee.
Highlight holes include the par four 5th, doglegging left over water to the green; the par four 9th (rated stroke index 1) which slides right off the tee to a green that’s threatened by water on its left flank; and the par three 17th, where a solitary bunker to the front right of the putting surface provides the main focal point on the tee.
Golf Bogliaco is a fun course, not long, but definitely fun. Small greens and lots of OB. Its pedigree is a little murky, but don’t let that get in the way of having a fun round. Going back well over 100 years and originally developed by the Beretta family (yes, that Beretta family), it has allegedly been utilized for golf, as an airport and baseball fields. Who knows where the truth lies, but if you are in the south western Lake Garda region it is well worth a visit.
The first hole is a welcoming par 5. Qusai-reachable for big hitters ,but OB right. Favor the right off the tee as the hole slopes right to left. It is slightly uphill and the green sits on a ledge protected by a bunker and tree front right and a small water hazard left. The 2nd is a short par with a two tiered green. The green is perched on a ledge with figure 8 front bunker and a steep dropoff right. The 3rd is a par 4 dogleg right uphill. Favor the left off the tee, so ensure that you will not be blocked out. Big hitters do not need to hit driver here as you will go through the fairway. Also, left on your approach is death, down a cliff and OB. In my opinion the short downhill par 3 4th is the signature hole. It will illicit a “wow” when you gaze at the panoramic setting with mountains and the lake in the background. Back to business, TWO clubs less! The short reachable 5th begs you to go for it, even though it is tucked right behind a small water hazard. Don’t be an idiot, unless you need to work on taking a drop. Play for you preferred wedge yardage and then go pin hunting. The 6th is a ho-hum hole. It is contoured left sop favor the right. The 7th is a reachable par 5. However, some of the challenges include OB right off the tee, a ditch that parallels the hole on the left and a small green protected by a bunker left, front and right. The short 8th looks easy on the card. Slight dogleg left with a large tree just left of center in the middle of the fairway, about 115 yards from the green. As a draw bigot, this was in my sweet spot, until I chunked my pitch into the left front bunker, &%^%#%^$%#. For most , a good birdie hole. The 9th is the number one handicap hole, a dogleg right with a fairway bunker on the outside elbow. Preferred tee shot is a high fade. A C shaped water hazard caresses the left third of the green. Good hole.
The back starts with a short par four wiggling left. OB right with a narrow landing area and a fairway bunker left. A smart golfer would leave the driver in the bag, I did not ^*%&^%^$&. The 11th is a slight dogleg left. There is a ditch all the way down the left side and OB right. A high draw will give you a green light birdie oppty. The 12th is a reverse S par 4. Interesting hole, favor the right off the tee. The green sits on a ledge with a bunker in front and is long and very narrow. Definitely consider an extra club on your approach. The 13th is short downhill flip wedge par 3. A ridge does dissect the green at about a 45 degree angle. Pay attention to the pin location. The 14th is a sharp dogleg left. Off the tee aim at the fairway bunker on the outside elbow and hit a high draw (if you can). There is a water hazard right and a couple of bunkers left, but the kidney shaped green has a big ridge crossing it just short of halfway. Club selection is key on the approach, or you will probably 3 jack. The short par 5 15th looks like a birdie on the card, and it can be. However, danger lurks. I would suggest aiming at the right fairway bunkers, which are about 250 yards out. Also, OB right and a stream down the left side. If you hit a good drive it is decision time. There is a small water hazard short and left of the green. Mediocre drive or worse, pick your layup distance and keep right. The 16th is an uphill par 4 with a small water hazard on the left, about 225 yards out. To clear it, you will 250. I was not up to the occasion. Another hole where smart golfers would layup and still have a wedge in. The 17th is a mid-distance downhill par three with a twist. Hole in ones are sponsored year long by Terme di Sirmione, a local upscale hotel. The 18th is a good finishing hole, longer tight par 4. OB right and a small water hazard left and a green protected by two bunkers.
This is a fun course. I highly recommend it even over more well -known and manicured course like Lake Garda. I would pay to play it again.