Top 100 Golf Courses presents its biennial review of golf courses in Italy
We extend our listings of Italian courses by establishing a new Top 50
Italy is the last of the major golfing nations in Europe to undergo a biennial review in 2016. It wasn’t exactly planned that way as it’s taken a little longer than anticipated to garner all the data required to update our listings. Nevertheless, we think it’s been worth the wait – and the extra effort involved in obtaining this information – because we’re now able to extend our coverage of courses throughout the country with an additional twenty tracks, establishing an inaugural Top 50 chart.
Golf in Italy is focused on the North of the country, in the eight regions collectively known as Alta Italia, and it’s here that more than two thirds of all the golf facilities in the country are located. Politically, the golfing centre of power remains close to the capital, with the Italian Golf Federation ensconced at Golf Nazionale, formerly known as Le Querce, which is situated an hour’s drive northwest of Rome city centre.
The Federation is no doubt delighted with the recent news that one of its members, Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, was chosen as the venue for the Ryder Cup in 2022, becoming only the third course in continental Europe (after Valderrama in 1997 and National (L’Albatros) in 2018) to host this prestigious event. We’ll be keeping a close eye in the weeks and months ahead on the proposed course improvements to the Championship course that have been promised by Ryder Cup Europe.
And so to our new Top 50 for Italy; this is the fourth revision of a chart that was first created in 2008, when we featured what was then regarded as the best twenty courses in the country so we think we’ve progressed a little from those early efforts. Three quarters of those courses remain in the current Top 20 so only five layouts have managed to break into the upper echelons of the Italian listings after eight years of ranking.
The big news is that we have a new national number 1, with long-standing top track Biella ousted from its position at the summit by the Robert Trent Jones course at Royal Park I Roveri. There wasn’t much in it (the respective chart positions of the two layouts in our Continental Europe Top 100 is 26 versus 28) but the old John Morrison course at Vacarozza has just been usurped by the more modern design of esteemed American architect, Robert Trent Jones Snr.
Set within the ancient hunting grounds of the Parco Regionale della Mandria, the RTJ course is one of two fabulous 18-hole layouts that occupy a gorgeous woodland estate owned by the powerful Agnelli family, close to the city centre of Turin. Host venue for the Italian Open between 2009 and 2012, the course has proved in recent times that it’s more than capable of testing the top professional players, as well as providing regular weekend sporting pleasure for its many members.
Another course rises one place near the top of our revised Top 10 standings and it’s another Robert Trent Jones Snr design, the Blue and Yellow nines at Castelconturbia which now occupy the number 3 position in our revised rankings. Unveiled in the mid-1980s, this golf facility has been described by one reviewer as; “a fantastic golf experience… 27 holes of challenging golf that gently follow the natural undulations of the land… with spectacular views of the massif of Mount Rosa.”
Only two layouts remain in the same position at the top end of the rankings and the first of these is the aforementioned Golf Nazionale at number 5, a course that Jim Fazio and David Mezzacane co-designed in 1990. The other track is the Torino Blue course at number 6, which Graham Cooke remodelled before it hosted the Italian Open in 2013. One reviewer had this to say about it: “I’ve yet to play anywhere near handicap here for some reason unbeknown to me but I’ll be back when I’m next visiting Turin and once again I’ll dig deep and pay the green fee. It really is worth the expense if you can afford it.”
Olgiata (West) surges up the listings (climbing nine places to 7) and this 1960s Ken Cotton layout has benefitted greatly from a major renovation carried out in 2010 by Jim Fazio, when he upgraded most of the holes. Also making an impressive leap up the chart, the Bonora course at Bogogno (up ten to 8) virtually swaps places with its sister course, the Conte (down six to 15), so who’s to say there’s not been a case of mistaken identity with those two in the past?
A little further down the rankings, another couple of Ken Cotton courses make significant upwards moves: Bergamo L’Albenza – where Costantino Rocca once caddied in his formative years – dates back to the early 1960’s and it shoots up eleven spots to number 13 whilst the course at Circolo Golf Venezia, extended to an 18-hole layout a decade earlier, soars twelve places to number 16.
The first of our new entries arrives at number 19 and it’s a rare European design from Tom Weikopf, Castiglion del Bosco, which is located within a massive 5,000-acre estate near Siena. Three other newcomers enter as an ensemble, ahead of the main pack. At number 24 and 25, we have a couple of Lombardian tracks, Arzaga (Jack Nicklaus II) from Nicklaus Design and Le Pavoniere from Palmer Design and these two are followed at number 26 by Poggio dei Medici, a Tuscan track that one reviewer recently described as “modern meets medieval”.
To view further details of the Top 50 for Italy click the link.
We’re always keen to find out your reaction when we update our national rankings so let us know what you think about our new Top 50 for Italy. Are there any courses that shouldn’t be there or have we missed one that really should be included? Maybe there’s a particular layout listed either too low or too high in the chart? Whatever your thoughts are, please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of the page if you’d like to give us your opinion.
25 February 2016 Respond to this article