Set in the heart of Tuscany, a short drive from the historical old city of Florence, the course at Poggio dei Medici Golf Club is named after the Medici family that attained political, religious and royal prominence between the 14th and 17th century, becoming one of the most powerful dynasties in all of Europe.
The club’s location close to Scarperia is actually quite a sporting hotspot because the golf course sits to the west of the hillside village and the famous Mugello Circuit race track lies on the other side.
Poggio dei Medici is nothing other than an unadulterated delight. With fairways set amongst rolling hills, it’s an open parkland layout that weaves across a picture postcard landscape with water only ever threatening at a few holes; namely the par five 2nd, the doglegged 5th and short par four 15th.
Poggio dei Medici opened for play in 1992 and seven years later it hosted the first of five consecutive Ladies Italian Open events. During its tenure here, five women from five different European countries won the competition.
The following edited extract is from 150 Golf Courses You Need To Visit Before You Die by Stefanie Waldek:
“It’s not often that a clubhouse steals a course’s thunder, but the one at Poggio dei Medicci might break all the rules – it’s set in a 16th century hunting lodge, the Villa di Cignano, once owned by the eponymous Renaissance family. The golf course here followed much later, and despite the fascinating history of the clubhouse, it truly does hold its own.
The Tuscan landscape provides two ridges and three valleys for the course, which is within view of the medieval village of Scarperia.”
About a half hour drive northeast of Florence, Medici is a great respite from the maddening hoards of tourists. One is a good welcoming hole. A short par four downhill favor the left side off the tee. Once over the ridge it runs hard right. Decent drive should have a flip wedge to the green. The second hole is a definite birdie oppty. A dogleg left, if you can clear the fairway bunkers on the left elbow you are inside of 200 yards. However, it is one of the few holes with a water hazard, short left and the approach must funnel between trees guarding both sides. Three is another par five this one uphill, but definitely reachable. Favor the left side of the fairway off the tee. The green has a sever right to left slope and is protected on the right with a bunker. Number four is an uphill par four. Pretty benign hole, just hit your drive straight. The green is not very deep, long and narrow. Five is a downhill par four dogleg left. A decent drive should give you a wedge to the green. There’s a small water hazard greenside left shouldn’t come into play, but it did for me. Number six is it give me par 3. Table top green bunker front bunker back. Seven is really a par 4 ½. From the tee aim way left as the fairway runs hard left to right. If you are fortunate enough to stay in the fairway you will have around 200 yards to the green. However, you then must deal with a gaggle of bunkers between you and the elevated green. If you opt to play safe and hit an iron to the throat it is a relatively easy up and down. Terrible par 5, would be an extraordinarily demanding par 4. The par 3 8th while uphill is a yawner. Nine plays much easier than the number two handicap hole. Yes, the fairway bunker left can come into play as can the greenside bunker right, but it is pretty straight, not that long and not too much trouble.
The back starts off with a slight dogleg left to right. There is a fairway bunker on the inside of the elbow and a creek running down the right side. The par four 11th is a dogleg left. Aim well right of center as there is a significant dropoff on the left side. The green is protected on all quadrants by bunkers. If you hook your approach you will be glad to end up in the left bunker. The short downhill par 3 12 plays at least one club less. The par 5 13th is a slight dogleg right with a split fairway. This one will be tough to get home in two, but you would have a better chance from the elevated right side of the fairway. After a heart pumping ascent to the 14th tee box, you have a long par 4 and the number one handicap hole. There are a couple of fairway bunkers left and two short left and behind the green. The real teeth of this hole is if you hit a really good drive you will roll through the fairway and into the rough that bisects the fairway. This obstacle is hard to see from the tee. The par 4 15th is a short dogleg right. Aim 20 yards right of the fairway/ rough seem from the tee. Failure to do so will probably result with your drive ending up in the water hazard. The par 3 16th may not look downhill, but with negligible wind the first 3 guys in our group flew it. For the blind tee shot on the par 4 17th I would recommend favoring the left side of the fairway off the tee as the contour will push the ball right. Take an extra club to the uphill green. The par 5 18th gives you a good chance to end your round with a birdie and is definitely reachable in two. There is a water hazard left that will really only affect really bad 2nd shots. Off the tee favor the right side of the fairway as the slope will push the ball hard left. There are 3 keep you honest greenside bunkers on the left.
Overall, one of the better courses that I played in Italy. There is a lot of clover, which suggests to me they are starting to scrimp on maintenance. Also, slows pace down as people spend an inordinate amount of time searching for golf balls that were not too far from the fairway and should be relatively easy to find. Lastly, and I recognize this is a generalization, Italian courses do not have drinking water on the course. Bring lots of water, especially if you are walking.