Golf dell’ Ugolino – Firenze: The Florence Golf Club Ugolino, known locally as Golf dell’Ugolino, carries the unique distinction of being the oldest golf club in Italy. It also has the honour of featuring in Chris Santella’s best-selling book, “Fifty Places to Play Golf Before You Die.”
Established in 1933, the course occupies the constantly undulating and immensely scenic terrain of the Chianti hills, just south of the breathtaking city of Firenze. In this quiet and classical Tuscan landscape, the holes curve and slant their way between cypress, pine and olive trees, arriving at small, well-defended greens. Accuracy rather than power will serve you well around this not overly long course, where several steep slopes need to be contended with, especially on the front nine.
The front nine swoops through hills and the key to these holes is to keep your tee shot in the fairway and back far enough so you can see the uphill greens. Shaping shots will definitely help your game but if you’d like a suggestion, keep your driver in the bag until you get to the 5th hole.
The hole 9th : The narrow fairway demands courage and determination. The second shot must take into account the slope to the right, while the third requires great accuracy to avoid greenside bunkers.
At times the back-nine assumes a slightly less rolling character, not least on the more open 14th, 15th and 16th holes. This threesome sits on the highest part of the course, rewarding you with the best of the panoramas onto the surrounding Tuscan countryside: a wondrous panoply of fruit orchards, vineyards and softly wooded hills. The par-5 17th, which sweeps elegantly from left to right as it gently climbs uphill, is one of many memorable holes. The home hole sums up this historic course to a tee – a short 330-yard par four where a fairway wood or long iron is needed to be placed accurately in the fairway on this tight dogleg so that you are able to see the small, well-protected uphill green.
The first thing we noticed was that there are only two sets of tee blocks. Don’t be fooled by the fact that this par 72 only measures 5,672 meters (almost 6,200 yards). Ugolino golf is demanding because of the natural sloping tight fairways and very small well-protected greens, so it deserves a slope rating of 133. You’ll need thought more than strength to master this layout.
Even if you’re fit enough to enjoy a walk, hiring a buggy is recommended to reduce the time between green and tee and to admire the views between shots. An absolute joy with helpful, attentive and informative staff.
The clubhouse of Ugolino is an example of the futuristic or art deco school of architecture. Prevalent in the 1930s. the architect was Ghirardo Bosio, a noted city planner of the fascist period. It is a listed building, protected by the Florentine institute responsible for cultural heritage. The building sits strategically on top of a hillock surrounded by meadowland, studded with cypresses and pines.