The two championship courses at the luxury five-star Donnafugata Resort in the south of Sicily offer golfers a rather splendid 36-hole golf experience. The Links layout is routed around a couple of large lakes whilst the Gary Player-designed Parkland course winds its way through a typically Ragusan landscape of olive and carob trees.
The Black Knight’s layout hosted the inaugural Sicilian Open in March of 2011, only five months after it was first unveiled to the golfing public. New tees were added at the 7th and 18th holes for the professionals at that event and the par five 2nd hole was played as a very long par four.Interestingly, an archaeological site dating back to 600 B.C. (reputed to be a Greek necropolis) lies close to the layout, yards from the tee at the 6th hole. Back on the course, water dominates the last three holes on the card, threatening the tee shot on the par five 16th then the approach shots at the 17th and 18th, down the left side of either fairway.
With a mixed group of 7 played it twice last week. Its a very good layout, with many interesting holes, on the back nine especially. But its in very poor condition overall, with many weeds and coarse grasses invading a lot of fairways. It desperately needs better maintenance....and probably significant weed killer and re-seeding.....and soon.
I noticed that no review of this course had been posted since 2015 and since then I am afraid that the course must have gone downhill. Me and my partner stayed and played at Donnafugata and Verdura on a two destination golf holiday in September 2017.
Sadly, this course was in shocking condition, the fairways were full of weeds and ant hills and the grass (what there was of it) was so long that it was like playing out of the rough. The greens were very slow, but at least flat.
It is difficult to rate the individual holes on this course, as the overriding memory was how poor the condition was. There would have been some interesting holes if the condition had been up to scratch, but we just wanted to finish the round.
We were meant to play this course twice and the Links twice, but we switched our other round to the Links, which was in better condition.
Unfortunately, our overall impression of the resort is that they do not have the funds to maintain them to a high standard. I could not recommend either course for any reasonably serious golfer (my handicap is 10 and my partner’s is 17).
The first two holes give a taste of what is to come and gently ease you into the round followed by a long par three that will test your ball striking. It is not till five that you get that real overriding sense that you’re in Sicily playing through an olive grove to the green with an abandoned Villa as a backdrop, the round continues like this for hole after hole, six a short par four bordered with 6th century remains, number seven drive from the top of the hill and see the hole sweep down majestically, water right of the green, time to take in the view, this is a magical place. On to the back nine the holes especially from eleven through to the finish delight test and enthral in equal measure. The lush fairways follow the contours as they sweep through the landscape it has many well placed large bunkers and reasonably flat big greens that with good ball striking can reap rewards. This course plays a lot like it looks, gentle beautiful and rewarding. The fifteenth a par three, from the back tees you go into a little copse of trees hidden from all but the green which angles away from you heavily bunkered it is almost asking for high soft ball flight. This is typical of this course it almost tells you what shot is required to play the hole, where to put the ball, the angles and lines you need and so to the finish, the eighteenth again hitting off a hill this par four bends and flows away from you bunkers and trees to the right, on the left water, the hole slowly curves down to the green a fitting climax to a round of golf and a hole that sums up all that is best about this golf course.
This is a championship course that has been designed for all standards of play, the tee boxes are generous in their yardage, and even in late October it was in very good condition, the greens had good speed and were very receptive, the fairways were luxuriant and a joy to hit off, the rough is Bermuda grass which does tangle up the club however the fairways are generous enough. This is what golf is all about: A beautiful setting, a fantastic course that caters for all standards, one that is well presented and reflects a high standard of design and thought, making it accessible to all, and giving those who play on it a lot of fun. Enjoy.