A surprising turn of events found me playing golf in Italy in late October. This is a country I’ve previously visited many times but never to play golf. Little did I realise that Italy boasts well over 400 superb courses and definitely a place for keen golfers to visit. This time I found myself flying Marco Polo airport in Venice and later driving to the city of Udine, about a couple of hours away. The centrally located Astoria hotel is where we stayed for three nights. Golf arrangements had been made for us to take part in the Italian Open Pro-am seniors event at Udine golf club something I was quite looking forward to but sadly it was not to be; grey skies and pouring rain greeted us the next day. Undeterred we made our way to the golf club vainly hoping the heavy rains would subside but in the end organisers were forced to cancel the event. A great shame as arrangements had been made to play in Barry Lane’s four, someone I’d previously met on a couple of occasions. However all was not lost as we ended up having a delightful, long, lingering and delicious lunch washed down with plenty of locally produced wine. (www.hotelfriuli.udine)  .(it www.golfundine.com)

The next day glorious sunshine greeted us as we headed for the Castella de Spesso Golf Club, a delightful par 71 course surrounded mostly by rustic scenery and where local wine production dates back to the thirteenth century. Years ago the castle was converted into a small hotel with fourteen rooms and an attic flat, and lays claim to have hosted several notable guests in the past. This course is designed by Giacomo Cabrini who has intricately combined local topography into many its wide and long fairways giving the impression of playing three contrasting courses. In every sense, I found this an interesting and challenging course.  A delicious late lunch followed in the ornately decorated Tavernetto del Castello conveniently within walking distance of the clubhouse and afterwards took part in a wine tasting of local wines. This also included a visit to the wine cellars beneath the castle only this meant climbing down 120 steps and up again. Even though I felt exhausted after golf, I still found enough energy to go on a guided tour when we returned to our hotel where a local guide was waiting to take us on foot to show us around this fascinating city.  www.golfcastellodipressa.it

At the crack of dawn the next morning we checked out of the hotel and drove towards Trieste (which borders Slovenian) to play our next game at the Grado Golf Club, and listed as one of the of 100 best clubs in Europe. Another challenging but enjoyable course in spite the many tricky water hazards. The 12th is particularly challenging, a dog-leg right that leads to a green on an island totally surrounded by water. Here accuracy is vital!  www.golfgrado.com

Before playing our final round, we checked into the 5 star Gran Hotel Duchi d’Astoria which just off Trieste’s main Square where the same guide joined us for another conducted tour of this historic city, Interestingly this is where James Joyce famously came to teach English but ended up staying for several years. Dinner this time, was another gourmet affair in the Al Bagotto restaurant which doubles up as wine shop selling locally produced wine. After checking out of the hotel early the next morning we drove to the Golf Club of Lignano for our final round of golf before boarding our plane late that afternoon. This was another interesting course and it was sad to have to leave so much wonderful golf behind, but a late delicious lunch at the Da Boschet restaurant in Latsiana put us all in a good mood for our flight home.

What a trip and proof, if any were needed, that Italy is definitely a golf destination worth visiting.


Apologies for the dearth of blogs over the past weeks but hopefully all back on track – so expect more soon!!








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