Situated within the UNESCO world heritage site of Val d’Orcia in the Brunello di Montalcino winemaking region of Tuscany, Castiglion del Bosco is a beautiful 800-year-old estate which includes castle ruins, a medieval church and an historic village at the centre of the resort called the Borgo.
Businessman Massimo Ferragamo acquired the 5,000-acre property in 2003 and he quickly went about the restoration of both the architectural and winemaking aspects of the property. Old farmhouses and various other buildings were transformed into guest villas and suites and a new cellar was built to cope with the revitalisation of the wine production.
In 2011, Tom Weiskopf was engaged to set out a golf course within this fabulous natural setting, draping the fairways across an exquisite landscape. Three critical features were available to him: stands of mature cypress trees, elevation changes and a number of natural water hazards, with the architect expertly weaving each of these elements into the course routing.
“The rolling hillsides provided a perfect palette to lay out the golf course,” said Weiskopf, after the course was brought into play in 2012. He also acknowledged that the layout (with its fescue fairways and bent grass greens) was “a terrific walk in the park” but, located as it is in such a stunning setting, “golf will always be secondary here”.
Apart from the par three 14th, the fairways at Castiglion del Bosco are generally orientated along a north-south axis, with holes beautifully routed around ravines, streams and stands of mature trees. The 166-yard 8th in particular catches the eye on the front nine, playing slightly downhill to a small green that’s circled by sand.Other memorable holes include the downhill 13th (at 685-yards, it’s reckoned to be the longest par five in Europe) and the short par four 15th, where the fairway falls sharply away along the left side of the hole. The closing hole sits on a ridge overlooking both nines and it plays slightly uphill, past the cypress tree-lined entrance road to the clubhouse, bringing a round here to a very satisfactory conclusion. CdB, as the club is also known, boasts a bye hole – this “settle the bet” 19th hole is a par three gem called Brunello.
A course of stunning beauty set in the Tuscan hillside, there are no holes with bad views and most of them are remarkable. The course itself is extremely well-maintained, a marvel to behold and a pleasure to play. The course is fun, while perhaps not as challenging as it could be. There is no water, but lots of sand that creates some tension on the otherwise relaxing course.
Castiglion del Bosco Golf Club was designed by Tom Weiskopf, and opened for play in 2012. The course is located within the UNESCO listed Val d'Orcia National Park. It is also wine making country- the area is famous for Brunello di Montalcino!
Castiglion del Bosco is owned by Massimo and Chiara Ferragamo, and is the only privately owned golf course in Italy
Weiskopf has done a good job- the course is nicely routed and fits hand in glove in the rolling Tuscan landscape. Quite rightly he appears to have put the emphasis on the estate surrounding the course itself, and in playing the course one is constantly aware of the muted hues of the surrounds. It is not hard to remember you are in Tuscany!
There is nothing brash about the course- each hole appears natural to the site, and like the local Brunello wine, it will mature with time...
Weiskopf has delivered a nicely balanced course, with two different nine hole loops. The first nine is accessed by a tunnel under the road, which brings you to a lovely river valley that contains the outward half of the course.
The start is strong with a very natural looking opening par 4, and a delightful downhill par 5 which flirts with the creek along it’s righthand side. The remainder of the nine basically follows the creek up and back the site, changing sides for variety.
I thought holes 1 & 2 were classy, strategic holes, and the shorter par 4 fifth was a delight to play. I liked the par 3’s at holes 4 & 8- both of which were relatively simple holes with natural looking green sites protected by well positioned bunkering.
The back nine has a bigger canvass, and the views of the surrounding Tuscan landscape dominate. The routing spreads over a wider area and has more elevation change, and takes you to more varied terrain.
Hole 10 is a favourite. It is a mid length par 4 which drops significantly from tee to green. The green can be seen from the tee at the bottom of a narrow valley- it’s a nice looking hole.
Thirteen is perhaps the signature hole at Castiglion. It is a downhill par 5 that measures 685 yards from the tips!
There is also a nineteenth hole at Castiglion- a short par 3 hole called the Brunello hole. It is probably appropriate because the course displays the same sort of elegance as the wine, and is just one more reason to visit Tuscany!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.