Golf Club La Pinetina occupies a heavily-forested 175-acre site adjacent to the Angelo Moratti Sport Centre – better known as the Inter Milan training centre – which is located outside the small town of Appiano Gentile, to the north of Milan. The football club’s training facility is commonly known as Pinetina, though it has no connection with the golf club.
Angelo Moratti, the former President of Internazionale, and coach Helenio Herrera commissioned the secluded training facility for the team in the early 1960s, a decade before the golf course was brought into play by Commander John Harris, an English architect who eventually ended up with more than a dozen Italian designs to his name.
The holes are beautifully routed across an undulating landscape, with fairways weaving through a pinewood regional park in a very pleasant fashion. Both nines conclude with strong par four holes: the 347-metre 9th veers down and left off the tee then rises up to a green that’s benched into the hillside whilst the 391-metere 18th also swings left from the tee then uphill to a home green which is protected by three large bunkers on the right.It’s a pity that overhead power lines encroach at the 4th and 5th holes and such an unwelcome interference from the outside world in this idyllic natural setting is rather unfortunate. Thankfully, there’s no sign of the modern world later in the round at the signature par three 14th. Here, the hole plunges steeply downhill to a green protected by an enormous bunker which wraps itself around three quarters of the putting surface.
La Pinetina GC is located 25km from Lake Como, and 35km from Milan. The course was designed by John Dering Harris, and opened for play in 1971.
The area surrounding the course is the home of the huge Appiano Gentile pine forest, and Harris has done a grand job of routing through very hilly and heavily vegetated terrain.
The course is set amongst a forest which includes pine trees, birch, oak and chestnut- far from roads and "the madding crowd"- and deep in the forest.
At times it can be a testing walk with some very steep inclines both up and down coming in to play. The climb up the 2nd and 9th holes will have most needing a few minutes to compose themselves before finishing the hole.
Notable Holes: Holes 1, 10, & 14 were my favourites- all quite different types of holes which take advantage of the natural terrain to advantage....
The opening hole is sharp dogleg right which is heavily treed on both sides. However it is the change in elevation between tee and green which commands your attention. As the hole turns it also falls away dramatically. A decent tee shot leaves a short iron approach to a pretty green site below. It is a nice way to start the day...
Although the tenth runs through forest, it is reasonable wide off the tee. However this short par 5 then demands you make decisions. How to approach a green which is defended by water and sand, and a fairway that bends and narrows as it nears the target? In my opinion Harris did an outstanding job here, because players with different skill sets can all play the hole successfully in different ways, and find the hole rewarding. There is more than one way to skin a cat!
In contrast hole fourteen only requires good club selection off the tee, and a well struck shot. It is a long drop from tee to a green tucked in a clearing in the forest below. It is a beautiful hole, and always a thrill to hit those shots with serious hang time!
La Pinetina GC consistently rates among the better courses in Italy, and has hosted a number of significant tournaments over the years.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.