Best Golf Courses to Play in Italy
By Brendon Elliott, PGA
(Photo courtesy of Bogogno Golf Resort)
When Italy's own Francesco Molinari won the 2018 Open Championship, he significantly pushed his home country into the European golf landscape. When Italy was chosen as the host nation for the 2023 Ryder Cup, its reputation as a destination to play was significantly boosted once again.
While we covered some of the best courses in Spain last week during the riveting Solheim Cup, Italian golf takes center stage this week as Rome and Marco Simone Golf & Country Club hosts the 2023 Ryder Cup.
The Ryder Cup Course at Marco Simone, located just 10 miles from Rome, was designed by famous architect Jim Fazio. From 2018-2020, architects Dave Sampson and Tom Fazio II completely renewed and refreshed Tom's father's original design. While much of Europe is familiar with Marco Simone, with the course hosting three Italian Open's, the rest of the world will get to see the splendor of this venue as the Ryder Cup plays out later this week.
Golf in Italy dates back to 1889 with the founding of Florence Golf Club. Today, some 134 years later, Italy boasts a remarkable stable of over 260 outstanding golf courses that go far beyond Marco Simone. There is a wide variety of styles throughout, including parkland, a more U.S. tree-lined feel, and links-style.
While Marco Simone Golf & Country Club will be the talk of the golf world this week, I wanted to share three more venues that are among the best that Italy offers. A special thanks to my friend Francesca Ceccaroni, Operative Manager of Capto Golf for supplying me with some local knowledge.
Bogogno Golf Resort
For over 25 years, Bogogno Golf Resort has been synonymous with quality and excellence. The resort offers up two courses, the Conte and Bonora Course.
The Conte Course is a par 72 links-style course, with large open spaces, large lakes, wild and wispy rough in the peripheral areas, synonymous with links courses, and a backdrop framed by the peaks of Monte Rosa. The Conte course has hosted the European Tour Qualifying School since 2006.
The Bonora Course is a par 72 parkland course. The Bonora course is an excellent contrast to the Conte, with its vast rolling terrain flanked by streams and woodland areas.
Castelconturbia Golf Club
Designed by famed golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, Castelconturbia opened for play in 1984. It was one Jones knew would be an instant classic.
"My first visit to Castelconturbia was memorable for me. Apart from the partial renovation of "I Roveri," more than ten years had passed since I had done a new camp in Italy. I was excited to return, and the terrain was gorgeous," said Jones.
"The beautiful trees and the large area are the ideal setting for a golf course. I had no doubts we were going to do something special. History seems to have proven me right: two Italian Opens are an honor for any golf course."
Castelconturbia offers one of Italy's most challenging layouts. The 27 holes allow for a few options of 18-hole configurations that you can play. If you want to play the Italian Open course, where that championship was contested in 1991 and '98, you must play the yellow and blue nines.
With its fantastic mountain views, the course is a must-play when in Italy.
Royal Park I Roveri
With the La Mandria Natural Park located at the foot of the Alps as its backdrop, Royal Park I Roveri is one of Italy's most scenic and breathtaking golf venues.
Golfers that come to Royal Park I Roveri have a unique opportunity to play on two courses designed by world-famous architects Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Michael Hurdzan.
The Allianz Course, designed by Trent Jones Sr. in 1971, has a unique and innovative use of bunkers and a layout with strategic water placement accompanied by often treacherous green complexes. It has played host to the Italian Open, European Young Masters and the European Amateur Team Championship.
The layout is consistently ranked as one of the best in Italy, and is a four-time winner of the the No. 1 Italian spot on top100golfcourses.com's ranking. It also holds the No. 3 spot on Golf World's Top 100 Best Golf Courses in Italy for 2022.
The newer Allianz Bank Course was designed in 2006 by Michael Hurdzan in collaboration with Dana Fry. This design was not intended to match Trent Jones Sr.'s Allianz Course but rather complement it in its contrast. Some key design aspects include flatter, more open spaces than the Allianz OG, man-made water features, and vast bunkering.
The Allianz Bank Course was named a "Best New Course" in 2014 by Golf Digest and No. 27 on Golf World's Top 100 Best Golf Courses in Italy list in 2022, as well as the publication's "Best Golf Course" in Italy that same year.
Royal Park I Roveri is home to the Edoardo Molinari Golf Academy. Edoardo, one of the most famous Italian golfers in history, was the 2005 U.S. Amateur Champion and is a three-time European/DP World Tour winner. He is the brother of Francesco Molinari, and both are serving as Vice Captains for Team Europe in the 2023 Ryder Cup.