La Cala Golf Resort, Costa del Sol
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La Cala Golf Resort, Costa del Sol
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Florence is not just the cradle of the Renaissance and home to wonderful art and delicious Tuscan cuisine, it’s also great for golfers. Here’s the best courses.
The city itself is a world renowned centre of culture of almost unmatched beauty and romance – but let’s venture out in to the wonderful Tuscan countryside to find some great golf courses.
The natural contours of the Chianti slopes have produced an outstanding course, threaded through indigenous vines, olive trees, pines and broom. This 18-hole course is around 20km south of Florence in the picturesque setting of the Impruneta hills. The undulating terrain makes for a gorgeous setting with views of the local vineyards and an interesting challenge for golfers. It’s not long so it requires imagination off the tee rather than just bombing it with your driver, and the greens are mostly small so require accuracy and strategy.
Around 15km north-west of Florence, this American-feel Arnold Palmer design from the 1980s is set in a part of Tuscany that is flat, so the contours here are subtle, while the greens are protected by bunkers and strategic water hazards. The long fairways are surrounded by holm-oak woods, cluster pines and cypresses. The wonderful clubhouse is a superb restoration on the nineteenth century farmhouse of San Leopoldo that once belonged to Leopoldo dei Medici. The most spectacular hole is the 6th, a 380-yard par 4 where the fairway is an island connected to the mainland by small bridges. From there it’s tricky to hit the green as it’s well guarded by water.
Around 20km west of Florence, Montelupo is another flat course with plenty of water and splendid views of the Chianti hills. It offers 14 holes along the river Arno and is especially good for beginners. While it’s not difficult, it’s peaceful and relaxing and pure enjoyment for all levels of golfer. The countryside and views are gorgeous.
Around 25km north of Florence, Poggio Dei Medici Golf Club is an 18-hole parkland layout set in stunning rolling countryside. The greens here are of a high quality and the fairways are in immaculate condition. It has hosted the Italian Ladies Open and Challenge Tour events, but it’s a test that will appeal to golfers of all levels with five tee boxes. If you want to play this golf course, Il Castelfalfi and La Tabaccaia hotels are within easy reach, but there’s also an excellent four-star hotel here, the Unahotels Poggio dei Medici Toscana.
30km west of Florence, Bellosguardo is set on on the hills overlooking Vinci and offers golfers a 9-hole course with two tees at each hole and gently undulating terrain set in a breathtaking landscape of olive trees and vineyards. Played as an 18, it’s around 6,300 yards long and is a par 71. This is another stress free round of great beauty, while each hole is dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. There is an itinerary which allows visitors to learn about the artist’s life and inventions, thanks to the reconstruction of some of the machines he designed.
This club comprises 27 holes of superb golf set in the beautiful Tuscan countryside, around 45km south west of Florence. The 18-hole Mountain Course is a championship-level course. It’s challenging due to its steep slopes and generous water hazards with the fairways bordered by groves and olive trees. Appealing to more experienced players, its layout requires accuracy and strategy, all set in a stunning landscape with panoramic views over the Castle of Castelfalfi.
The 9-hole Lake Course is shorter and more open, without such an emphasis on accuracy. It’s fun to play and appeals to golfers of all levels. The layout follows the gentle undulations of the Tuscan hills and like its bigger sibling, it’s an absolute feast for the eyes.
Though just over 100km south of Florence, it’s worth the journey. From renowned designer Robert Trent Jones Jnr, Antognolla Golf is one of the most spectacular and challenging layouts in Italy. The 18 holes feature long, cliff-lined fairways, stunning water hazards and huge, undulating greens. Situated in the 600 hectare estate of Antognolla in the heart of Umbria, there’s gorgeous views of the nearby medieval castle and verdant countryside.
There’s an emphasis on long straight drives, while the large undulating greens means accurate approach shots will be rewarded. Fairway bunkers are well positioned and wayward approach shots can quickly be swallowed by the large deep green-side bunkers.