Situated just to the north of Milan, in the pine, chestnut and birch tree-clad Como hills beside Lake Montorfano, lies Circolo Golf Villa d’Este. A timeless classic, regarded as a jewel in the Italian golfing crown.
Designed by Peter Gannon in 1926 (he would go on to work with Cecil R. Blandforth at Milano in 1928 and Varese in 1934), Villa d’Este has been something of a royal retreat over the years with Kings and Queens of Belgium, Britain, Spain and Greece signing the VIP “gold book” in the opulent clubhouse.
The overall yardage of the course is a modest 6,300 yards but with a lowly par of 69 and six demanding par threes to be played, only one of which (the 5th hole) is less than 180 yards off the championship tees, Villa d’Este is no pushover.
The 15th hole measures a formidable 464 yards and is by far the longest par four on the card. The fairway slopes from right to left, meaning most second shots will be played from an uneven lie to a small green with a bunker positioned front left that catches many pulled approaches.
No club has hosted more Italian Opens than Villa d’Este, but the national championship has not returned to Como since it was last held here in 1972 when Scotland’s Norman Wood won his only European Tour competition. In many respects the modern game has rendered the course obsolete for the professionals and that is very much their loss as both club members and many annual visitors will readily testify.
What a golf course! I played the course in April and it was in very good condition. From the moment you enter through the gate, you can see that this is all high quality. The place is quite a bit outside of Como with great views of the surrounding mountains (although no view of Lake Como). There are big old trees that surround every hole. The clubhouse is very nice and has a lot of class. The course design is great, no weak hole; I can easily remember almost every hole. The first 9 play mostly above the clubhouse, the second 9 below. In my opinion the finishing stretch from 12 to 18 is particularly strong with a mix of very interesting holes. The signature hole is the 18th which is slightly uphill to the majestic clubhouse above the green. The course is built on sandy soil, has quite steep elevation and practically every hole is surrounded by trees which add a lot to the difficulty of the course and it doesn't play short at all. The greens are not that much undulated, but there are very nice bunker complexes around the greens. All in all a great experience and it comes with the great Italian flair.