The 2,700-acre Castelfalfi Estate lies less than an hour’s drive north of the walled mountaintop town of Volterra, in the heart of Tuscany, where the lovingly restored buildings on this ancient property keep watch over vineyards, olive groves, forests and lakes.
Pier Luigi Mancinelli, who worked for a time with C. K. Cotton before setting up his own design company in the early 1970s, laid out the original fairways at Castelfalfi, with the course opening for play in 1991.
Twenty years later, the architectural talents of Wilfried Moroder and Rainer Preissmann combined to remodel the layout into a new 27-hole golf facility, comprising the 6,351-metre 18-hole Mountain course and the 3,171-metre 9-hole Lake course.
The clubhouse was repositioned to the centre of the two golf courses, offering spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, and the natural topography was sympathetically harnessed when routing the fairways around a hilly landscape full of challenge.
The 177-metre par three 9th hole ends the front nine in style, dropping 40 meters to a peninsula green that’s backdropped by the Castle, and the 382-metre 18th concludes the inward half in a highly entertaining manner, playing downhill to a half-island green with an impressive view up to the Borgo.
Nigel originally nominated the Mountain course at Castelfalfi for inclusion within Your Gems: “This course should be in your Top 100 of European courses, never mind the Gems section. The course is a brilliant piece of architecture, using the natural topography to wind holes up valleys, along ridges and down cliffs.
The 1st, 9th and 18th are unbelievable holes with the 9th especially a hole of immense beauty. A downhill par three with a 100ft drop to a green surrounded by water. The 18th is similar but is a dogleg par four to an island green adjacent to the 9th down a more gentler sloping fairway featuring terraced sections. The course is full of natural gorse and olive trees and set against the backdrop of the Borgo of Castelfalfi and the Castle La Rocca at the top of the cliff is just a magical setting.”
Architect Wilfried Moroder commented as follows:
"We were commissioned by TUI, the German Tour Operator, to design a new golf facility for their new resort and we analyzed the existing course and the routing, which were interesting but extraordinary tough and tight.
Our goal was to design and realize, step by step, a modern golf infrastructure for a big golf and country resort to an international standard. In fact, we studied, designed and got the approvals for a new 36-hole golf course, plus a 9-hole executive, in total a 45-hole golf facility.
At the moment, the 18-hole Mountain and the 9-hole Lake courses are playable, while the second nine holes of the Lake are still to be built.
We completely redesigned the old layout, developing two new courses that start out from a different central area where clubhouse, practice ground and starting tees are positioned. Therefore, almost nothing of the old course has been kept.
The Mountain course has a new routing, using ten playing corridors from the old layout, but these holes have been completely redesigned and changed, most of them have been lengthened, been given new green complexes and new tees.
Five of the woodland holes have been enlarged and
re-shaped with the two short holes totally redesigned. Eight holes are
completely new, and they’re the best on the course as they use the natural
contours of the landscape and offer fantastic views towards the Castle and the
Borgo of Castelfalfi."
Castelfalfi was a course I found while researching my first trip to Tuscany. The few pictures I could find looked interesting, but it was the rating/slope that had me intrigued 75.6 151 from the tips it measured just under 7,000 yds. Im a plus 3 so I love a good challenge and Castelfalfi is certainly that. The Mountain course was nothing short of spectacular. From the club house which consists of a small building with balls and shirts and a small bar/restaurant you can’t see much of the course. What you do see is the 1st and 10th hole that gently make their way up the hill waiting to take you over the other side of the Tuscan hill to the rest of the course. The scenery is other worldly and I have played a lot of dramatic golf courses around the world. The course was redesigned by the team of Rainer Preißmann and Wilfried Moroder in 2010 and no expense was spared. This is luxury golf but not the boring luxury golf you find in the states at most resorts. The small resort town of Castelfalfi sits above the course always looking down upon you as you play. The 3rd hole which is a par 4 has got to be the hardest inland 2 shots in golf I have seen. After a narrow and demanding tee shot requiring a full 3wood or driver with water all down the right side and tall reeds down the left. You are left with a shot of no less than 150 straight uphill to a blind green and ob directly behind the green. On the 15th hole all along the right side is o.b. and for good reason this is where they raise the wild boar for the annual hunt on the property, you don’t see this everyday. Is the course perfect absolutely not it has a few holes that are just truly unfair such as the 18th, a tee shot that needs only a 3 wood at most to a sever downhill shot over water to an island green. Don’t let the difficulty of this course scare you away. I left my day at Castelfali in love with the course as I realized my score would be irrelevant. Instead I left wanting to come again and I have twice now!