Golf in Italy… a Sicilian way of life!

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The Mediterranean’s largest island is billowing with golfing activity as the country prepares for the Ryder Cup this year.
Posted on
June 26, 2023
by
Steve Jackson in
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

For a country set to host the Ryder Cup for the first time, it’s no exaggeration to suggest that 2023 could be a ground breaking year for golf in Italy.

The Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, which is situated close to the Italian capital Rome, is expected to be a stunning and popular venue when the biennial contest between Europe and USA tees off in late September.

Of course, it’s not the only quality golf establishment in Italy - in fact, there are numerous top rate golf resorts all across this vast country.

In some respects, that’s the issue because there’s no obvious destination to stay in one spot, play a variety of different courses and enjoy all the local attractions. To achieve this, you need to go to an island… you need to go to Sicily!

Positioned on the southern tip of the boot of Italy in the centre of Mediterranean Sea, this island is billowing with activity, and that’s not just a reference to Mount Etna - Europe's tallest active volcano!

The leading golf destination is undoubtedly Verdura - a five star Rocco Forte hotel and villa spa resort situated along the southern coastline towards the west of the island.

This could easily provide the base for any trip to Sicily with perhaps the biggest headache being the decision about which one of the two 18-hole championship courses to play first - the East or West course.

Verdura East

Originally designed by Kyle Phillips, the East course required some major alterations a few years ago when the resort was hit by a severe flood. But in many respects this has helped to enhance the layout, which now has better drainage and is more adaptable to the fluctuating ‘modern’ weather conditions.

The course characteristics have remained the same with the wide fairways and large greens being protected by heavy rough and well-placed bunkers, especially for the approach shots.

The stretch of holes in the middle of the front nine are the more picturesque, with the beach and river in view, but with holes moving in different directions, the likelihood of playing the same wind on consecutive holes is rare.

With a golfer being able to drive buggies close to all greens and tees without damaging the grass, this course is ideal for all playing abilities, especially with its good variety of tee positions.

Verdura West
Verdura West

The West Course does not suffer in comparison with the East Course, and is arguably more playable since the rough tends to be less thick.

The holes get more picturesque as the round progresses with the castle clubhouse coming into view on the 14th and 15th holes.

Both are testing par fours in opposite directions, with the latter providing a decent carry over trouble with the beach to the right - this hole used to be the 18th before the course was slightly re-routed.

The main reason for the change was to make best use of the three holes that loop in front of the hotel villas out and back to the clubhouse.

Verdura Resort

The 16th hole needs a precise drive and approach to avoid the sand traps, the 17th is a short par three, before the round finishes with another hole alongside the beach.

With a nine-hole par three course to also try, any visitor could be forgiven for just playing Verdura over and over again, but there are other golfing options in Sicily, and they are worth looking at, especially Picciolo Etna.

Golf in Italy - Sicily
Il Picciolo Etna

Situated on the north east of the island, on the opposite side of Mount Etna, this 18-hole course provides a completely different challenge for a golfer, and not just because it’s perched in the hills.

With five short holes and the same number of par fives, this layout can never be accused of being boring because every shot requires full attention - if you can view the course beforehand, it is advisable.

There are many holes with plenty of character, but the key factor on most is hitting the ball straight, because there are very few tee shots to wide open fairways. The multi-tier greens also mean that accurate club selection is needed to find the flags.

Kept in great condition, this course, club and accompanying hotel have made significant strides in recent years to improve their product and their attention to detail is remarkable, especially their customer service, which is exceptional.

Another parkland course in Sicily worthy of mention is I Monasteri Golf Club and Hotel, which is positioned in the southern part of the island close to the historic city of Syracuse.

Golf in Italy - Sicily
I Monasteri

Although it’s relatively flat, and therefore good for walking, it’s not an easy course to score well, because there are several tight holes.

The layout gets even  more interesting from the ninth hole onwards as the water comes into play on this short par three, and then again on back-to-back par fours - the latter involving a narrow approach to a sloping green.

Of the five long holes, the 17th is arguably the best with three good shots needed to reach the putting surface, before the round concludes with a dogleg hole to the right.

A trip to Sicily shouldn’t just involve golf, and there’s no shortage of attractions to enjoy, including the beaches, the Valley of the Temples, Mount Etna, not to mention the wine tasting and local cuisine.

Valley of the Temples

Golf Resorts in Sicily

Verdura Resort

East Course – Par 73 – 6,763m – Green fees from €120
West Course – Par 70 – 6,547m – Green fees from €120
Donato di Ponziano (Golf Development Manager), Alessandro Maria Cardini (Golf Manager)
Twitter @Verdura_Resort
Instagram @verduraresortsicily

 

Il Picciolo Etna Golf Resort & Spa

Par 72 – 5,870m – Green fee €90
Guy Roberts (Golf Marketing Manager), Mauro Virga (Resident Manager)
Instagram @piccioloetnagolf

 

I Monasteri Golf Club at the Borgo di Luce Luxury Resort

Par 71 – 6,520m – Green fees from €65
Instagram @imonasterigolfresort

 

Other Attractions

Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples) – archaeological site in Agrigento.
Syracuse – ancient city, birthplace of Archimedes and home to several important historical and cultural sites.
I Custodi delle Vigne dell’Etna – winery.

playgolfsicily.com

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