It was back in 1903 that a number of like-minded, golf-mad British expatriates created the first Italian golf course – along with a cricket pitch and tennis court – at Roma Acquasanta, to the south east of the Eternal City. Over 100 years later, Roma Acquasanta Golf Club remains not only one of the most prestigious clubs in the country and a wonderfully atmospheric place to play golf, but also Italy's oldest golf course.
Laid out over an enchanting parkland landscape, with views of the Via Appia Antica, Aqua Claudius arches and ancient tomb of Cecilia Metella in the background, Roma Acquasanta seems suspended in a time warp with the course and its surroundings standing still as the modern world goes by.
Like Muirfield, the course routing is such that the back nine is played within a loop created around the perimeter of the property by the front nine holes. Sad to say, its 6,429 yardage is no longer challenging enough for professional players and it’s more than likely that the 1980 Italian Open – won by Massimo Mannelli – will be the last one held here.
The course plays fairly tightly, with trees, the meandering river Almone and intelligently placed bunkers coming into play at many holes. A prime example is the 430-yard par four 17th which is played downhill to a hole protected by a bunker to the front right. Before the green complex, however, there are not one, but two streams running across the fairway, the second of which continues laterally along the left side of the putting surface.