The reputation of Italian Golf courses as some of Europe’s key golf tourism destinations has risen to new heights after 10 of its leading golf venues were included in an eagerly-awaited new list of the continent’s premier places to play and stay.
Of the 49 countries eligible, only 18 were represented in Golf World magazine’s inaugural ‘Top 100 Resorts in Continental Europe 2017’ rankings, with Italy providing an impressive ten per cent of the venues selected.
Boosted by the launch this spring of the new Italy Golf & More project and being selected to host the 2022 Ryder Cup, Italian golf has enjoyed a record rise in overseas bookings this year, and its growing status in the European golf travel market is reflected in the latest rankings.
The magazine’s judging panel of seven international experts marked each resort in five different categories – golf courses, accommodation, amenities, practice facilities and accessibility.
Verdura Resort in Sicily was rated highest of the Italian entries, claiming fourth place in the influential industry list, with resorts from no fewer than six different regions – Piedmont, Lombardy, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Tuscany, Sicily and Sardinia – all featuring.
And key figures in Italian golf tourism have high hopes that the country will enjoy an even bigger presence when the rankings are published again in two years’ time, with four of the 10 resorts that the magazine highlighted as just missing out on the Top 100 list also being in Italian.
Bruno Bertero, project co-ordinator for Italy Golf & More, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many of our top resorts included in the new list, and this is a further indication of the high regard that Italy is held in across Europe.
“The worldwide profile of Italian golf is bigger that it has ever been before and rankings such as this can only be positive in helping to attract more and more golfers to our shores to enjoy the many delights we have to offer.”
Featuring no fewer than 141 18-hole courses, Italy is the ideal place to combine a golfing break with the chance to experience many of its other historic, cultural and gastronomic delights.
Helped by the creation of Italy Golf & More and the Ryder Cup announcement, the number of international golfers visiting has increased by record amounts in 2016 – with a further period of growth forecast in the coming years.
Italy Golf & More is a collaboration between 11 private sector partner regions, the Italian Golf Federation and the Ministry of Tourism (MIBACT), who have come together to embark on a seven-figure investment to increase awareness, and future golf tourism traffic, from key European markets to Italy.
The partner regions consist of Friuli Venezia Giulia – the leading partner region of the project – Lombardy, Piedmont, Lazio, Veneto, Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Puglia, Sicily, Marche and Umbria – who together boast 115 of Italy’s golf courses – with seven further regions falling under the investment of the Italian Golf Federation.
With 20 airports in the UK now operating regular flights to all over Italy, the country has never been so accessible, while its warm climate and mixture of mouth-watering cuisine, fine wines, spas, history, culture and beaches make it the perfect location for a golf break.
By Peter Simm