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​Top 60 Golf Courses of Italy 2020

27 January, 2020
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Top 60 Golf Courses of Italy 2020

This is the fifth biennial revision of our listings for Italy, which began with a modest Top 20 back in 2008. We expanded the rankings to a Top 30 in 2014 then added a further twenty tracks two years later to create a Top 50. We’re adding another ten layouts and that means we’ll now profile around 25% of the 241 golf facilities operating across the country.

Half of these courses are located in the North, or Alta Italia, region and this is only to be expected when you consider most of the nation’s golf output is to be found there, even if the sport’s political power remains close to the capital in Rome, evidenced by Marco Simone Golf and Country Club hosting the Ryder Cup in 2022.

Golf in Italy’s still very much a game played by a relatively select few, even though 91,000 players are registered with the Italian Golf Federation. The latest statistics in a KPMG report list the general population per golf course in 2018 as 246,058 and this figure was easily the worst (Belgium was next with 149,351) when compared against 19 others in western Europe.

Turning our attention to our latest ranking chart for Italy, 10 courses remain in the same position, 10 move upward and 12 enter for the first time. Remarkably, seven of the non-movers reside within the Top 10 tier, including the No. 1 layout at Circolo Golf Villa d’Este in Como. Laid out in the tree-clad hills above Lake Montorfano, this Peter Gannon design dates back to the mid-1920s and more Italian Open champions have been crowned here than anywhere else.

Circolo Golf Villa d’Este

Review comments for this classic old track include snippets such as: “it may measure fairly short but you won’t find it easy here on the wooded hillside near Lake Como… the views were sensational and I could still see the snow-capped mountains… the overall experience was excellent… there are big old trees that surround every hole… the course design is great, with no weak hole”.

Rising four places to #4, the course at Pevero Golf Club in Sardinia is a Robert Trent Jones design that opened in 1972, shortly after Ron Kirby, RTJ’s man on the ground at this time in Europe, left the firm to start up his own business. Six years later, the 35th edition of the Italian Open was held here, won by Dale Hayes from South Africa.

Pevero Golf Club

Our US Consultant Fergal O’Leary had this to say about Pevero when he played it a while back: “the routing is very tough at this course. The topography doesn’t lend itself to a simple flow. Each hole sits alone as its own unique creation. On the back nine, the distance between many of the holes becomes very noticeable as RTJ Snr wrestled with how to connect each hole to the next.”

Climbing five rungs on the ladder to #15, the course at Castiglion del Bosco in the Brunello di Montalcino winemaking region of Tuscany is a rare European design from Tom Weiskopf which debuted in 2012. Boasting fescue fairways and bent grass greens, the course is draped across a stunning landscape, with a “settle the bet” par three 19th hole available for deciding tied matches before players retire to the clubhouse.

Castiglion del Bosco

The course at Argentario Golf Resort & Spa is another Tuscan beauty that advances four positions to #21. Recently designated as the PGA National Golf Course Italy , this 18-hole layout on the Monte Argentario promontory is set out in a spectacular spot overlooking the Orbetello Lagoon, where the coastal breezes have a big say in how well you’ll perform here. Water hazards come into play on the outward half before holes then weave their way through some lovely olive groves on the back nine.

Argentario Golf Resort & Spa

The biggest upward move in the new Italian table (soaring eleven places to #23) is made by the oldest golf club in Italy, Circolo Golf Ugolino, founded in 1889 and now situated 15 kilometres south of the city centre in Florence. The course is another Peter Gannon creation which was laid out with his design partner Cecil Blandford in the early 1930s, when the club moved to its current location, and it still retains many of its original characteristics, including very small “postage stamp” greens.

Circolo Golf Ugolino

An hour’s drive further south of Florence, the course at Royal Golf la Bagnaia leaps ten places up the new chart to #25. It featured in an article published last year entitled On the Robert Trent Jones Jr. Trail in Italy, when we visited several places within the beautiful regions of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio, and La Bagnaia occupies a substantial portion of a large, rolling property that encompasses a couple of old, converted villages as boutique accommodation options.

Royal Golf la Bagnaia

The course at Golf Club Bologna is the highest of ten new entries appearing in our new rankings, arriving at #30. The first course to be established in the Emilia-Romagna region when it was unveiled in the late 1950s, it’s a Ken Cotton and John Harris co-production which was subsequently modified by Peter Alliss around twenty years ago. Although it’s never hosted a major professional tournament like the Italian Open, the layout has been used for many elite regional and national amateur events.

Golf Club Bologna

Over the coming months we hope to hear positive news regarding Sicily's Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa, which closed down last year and is currently for sale. It would be a real shame to lose the 36-hole facility that hosted the inaugural Sicilian Open in 2011.


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To view the complete detailed list of the Top 60 Golf Courses of Italy click the link.

Jim McCann
Editor
Top 100 Golf Courses

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