No expense was spared during the construction of the 5-star Verdura resort on the south west coast of Sicily and the 45-hole golf complex at its centre is one of the best sporting facilities to be found anywhere in the Mediterranean region.
Designed by the esteemed American architect Kyle Phillips, the two championship 18-hole layouts – East and West – are the golfing stars of the show at Verdura and they are well supported by a 9-hole par three course, a driving range and practice area.
When the first professional tournaments were hosted at Verdura, a wonderful composite 18-hole layout was set up to include the best holes on each course. Indeed, the track that staged the 2012 Sicilian Open (when Denmark’s Thorbjørn claimed his maiden European Tour victory) comprised a blend of East and West holes.
Unfortunately, severe storms in late 2018 caused an embankment to breach which resulted in flooding across fourteen holes, seven on the East and seven on the West). Kyle Phillips rearranged the routing to retain all of the damaged holes, along with four remodelled holes on the new East course configuration.
Measuring 6,547 metres from the back tees and playing to a par of 70, the slightly shorter East is no pushover, especially with three lengthy par four holes to start the round, before the first of five par three holes is played. A tough finish also awaits, with the outstanding closing holes all hugging the spectacular coastline.
Me and my partner stayed and played at Donnafugata and Verdura on a two destination golf holiday in September 2017.
After the disappointment of Donnafugata (also reviewed) the two courses at Verdura were a revelation. I had been looking forward to playing a Kyle Phillips’ designed course since seeing the glowing reviews of Kingsbarns and I was not disappointed. These are both stunning gems, beautifully conditioned, and in my opinion should be amongst the top courses in Europe.
It is hard to pick a favourite between the East and the West, as they are similar in character and each a joy to play. There is hardly a weak hole amongst the 36 and both courses end with stunningly picturesque (and difficult) stretches of holes.
As both courses are on the coast the wind largely dictates the difficulty, but both courses generally have wide enough fairways to enjoy the round no matter what the conditions. The difficulty generally lies with getting close to the pins on the large and undulating putting surfaces.
On the West course, holes 15 to 18 form a loop away and then back to the watchtower clubhouse. They make a fine climax to the round and a real test for anyone with a good card going up to that point. 15 and 17 are par threes in different directions, and generally exposed to cross winds. 17 is shorter, but more intimidating as visually it gives the impression of anything long or left being destined for the Med! The 16th is all about hitting the fairway in preparation for a long second into a large green. The staff claim that John Daly referred to the 18th on the West as the ‘Pebble Beach of Europe’ and if true it is easy to see why – all down the left of the hole there is simply a wooden fence separating the course from a cliff and the blue waters of the Med! Having negotiated an intimidating tee shot, a long second is played to an undulating green positioned under the clubhouse bar, with the Med once again waiting to claim a pulled approach! A tricky two putt and time for a well earned drink...
The Rocco Forte hotel around which these courses are designed is expensive, but for those able to afford the prices Verdura is a stunning location for a golf holiday.