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.
The East is arranged as two returning circuits of nine holes whilst the West enjoys a traditional out-and-back routing. Cleverly, the arrangement of holes on both courses allows a composite course to be created – featuring the best holes on each layout – enabling a tournament course to be created at Verdura. In 2012 the Sicilian Open was played on a composite course, which comprised mainly of holes from the West course. Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen held off a final-day course record equalling charge of 64 by England’s Chris Wood to win the event by one shot, claiming his inaugural European Tour title.
A couple of holes on the front nine of the West course skirt an old railway line (the par three 3rd has a restored station in the background) before the blue waters of the Med are reached at holes 8 and 9, a pair of two shotters that conclude a stretch of five straight par fours on the outward half.
Returning for home, par fives at holes 11 and 14 help steer the routing towards the final four holes where the round finishes with a flourish along the seashore. The 16th and 18th are tough par fours, rated stroke index 2 and 4 whilst the 15th and 17th are testing par threes played against beautiful seaside backdrops.Verdura Resort, Rocco Forte's Sicilian Jewel
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.