Features

Golfing around... Florence

1 Jun 2005 by business traveller

LE PAVONIERE GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB

Where is it? 15km west of Florence.
What's it like? Don't expect to come on Le Pavoniere by chance — or indeed at all unless you get very specific directions through Prato's sprawling commercial district. The heart of the club is an attractive country house once owned by 15th century ruler Lorenzo the Magnificent, but an
ugly modern wing limits any feeling of yester-year elegance. Designed by Arnold Palmer, the course lies on the valley floor overlooked by hills to the south. It is both playable and walkable, though a bit of a ball swallower due to numerous lakes and streams, some of them in unexpected places. They are crossed and banked by bridges and walls painted in Tuscany's soft russet and ochre, adding a touch of class to Palmer's expert landscaping.
Address Via Traversa il Crocifisso, 59100 Prato.
Contact tel +39 057 4620855,[email protected],www.golfclublepavoniere.com.
Price E60 weekdays, E80 weekends.
Can I rent clubs? Yes, E25.
Club hours 0800-2000 (summer), 0900-1900 (winter), closed Mondays.
Minimum handicap 34 (certificate not required).
Facilities 18-hole course, par 72, 6137m, driving range and practice area, swimming pool, sauna and gym.
After golf Clubhouse with bar and restaurant (meals served 0730-2130).

POGGIO DEI MEDICI GOLF CLUB

Where is it?  25km north of Florence.
What's it like? Poggio dei Medici means "Hill of the Medici", an accurate description of a tough course set in the relatively untouched Mugello countryside. Given the long distances from green to tee, all but the super-fit will enjoy the round more if they ride rather than walk. Provided with the luxuries of space and variety, Baldovino Dassu and Alvise Rossi Fioravante were able to let rip with all the hazards in the designer's manual. Single-digit handicappers will require ingenuity as well as strength to negotiate lakes and streams, extensive bunkers and stretches of rough. The challenged majority may struggle to play to their handicaps, but this relaxed but luxurious complex should
not be missed.
Address Via San Gavino, 27 – 50038 Scarperia.
Contact tel +39 055 8430436,[email protected],www.poggiodeimedici.com.
Price 18 holes E80, 9 holes E50.
Can I rent clubs? Yes, E30.
Club hours 0730-2000, closed Tuesdays.
Minimum handicap 34 (certificate not required).
Facilities 18-hole course, par 73, 6338m, quality driving range and practice area. The Una Resort (+39 055 84350) has 70 luxurious rooms with views of the course, plus swimming pool, spa bath and spa.
After golf A cocktail bar and restaurant specialising in Tuscan cooking in the 16th century Villa di Cigano (open 0730-2300).

COSMOPOLITAN GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB

Where is it? 95km west of Florence.
What's it like? In contrast to the other courses in the Florence catchment area, the Cosmopolitan is set on flat coastal marsh and woodland. Eleven of the holes are dominated by natural water features, while others require long tee shots over reed beds. There is no fence between the Cosmopolitan and the Tirrenia Golf Club, the first public course in Italy, built by the American forces in 1968 for the benefit of the troops stationed in their military base nearby. With narrow fairways winding through mature woodland, the 9-hole Tirrenia (+39 050 37518) complements its brasher neighbour very effectively.
Address Viale Pisorno, 60 – 56018 Tirrenia (Pisa).
Contact tel +39 050 33633,[email protected],www.cosmopolitangolf.it.
Price: E45 weekdays, E55 weekends, 9 holes E30.
Can I rent clubs? Yes, E25.
Club hours 0830-1930 weekdays, 0830-2000 weekends, closed on Mondays from mid-September to mid-June.
Minimum handicap 34 recommended (certificate not required).
Facilities 18-hole course, par 72, 6045m, driving range and practice area.
After golf 50m swimming pool, extensive terrace and bar (0830-1900 weekdays, 0830-2000 weekends); the restaurant is open 1230-1500 weekdays and 1230-1600 weekends.

MONTECATINI GOLF CLUB

Where is it? 33km west of Florence.
What's it like? A friendly club tucked away in the hills above the spa resort of Montecatini Terme, which is noted for its 15th century mineral water facilities that were extensively renovated in the 18th and early 20th centuries. The course is hilly, putting a premium on accuracy and initiative rather than strength. The Tuscan landscape is at its most impressive, with stands of olive and cypress trees alongside the immaculately prepared fairways. The honey coloured Villa Galeotti makes a lovely clubhouse, with fine dining and relaxed drinking on a shaded terrace. If you can spare the time, check into one of nine suites in La Pievaccia (+39 0572 640692), a luxurious niche hotel with a swimming pool overlooking the course.
Address Via dei Brogi, Loc. Pievaccia, 51015 Monsummano Terme, Pistoia.
Contact tel +39 0572 62218,[email protected],www.montecatinigolf.com.
Price 18 holes E65, 9 holes E35 (plus 20 per cent VAT).
Can I rent clubs? Yes, E25.
Club hours 0800-1030 summer, 0900-1700 winter, closed Tuesdays.
Minimum handicap 36 recommended (certificate not required).
Facilities 18-hole course, par 72, 5932m, driving range and practice area.
After golf Terrace bar and restaurant plus snack bar (open 0800-1800 in summer).

CIRCULO DEL GOLF DELL'UGOLINO

Where is it? 15km south of Florence.
What's it like? Once known as The Florence Golf Club — founded in 1889 and the oldest in Italy — Ugolino moved to its present location in the Chianti hills, south of the city, in 1933. Today, this is an elitist neighbourhood, with handsome villas and farmhouses, each perched on its own mini peak and surrounded by Tuscany's trademark cypress trees. Leafy suburbia provides a relaxing backdrop for a heavily contoured and cambered course, which tests through guile rather than length. There are no water hazards, but the small, well-defended greens are hard to hit in regulation. Designed by British architects Cecil Blandford and Peter Cannon, it has been comprehensively re-vamped, but without destroying the traditional ambience. Again fitness is at a premium, with buggies recommended for those who see golf as good walk spoiled by steep hills.
Address Via Chiantigiana 3, 50015 Grassina.
Contact tel +39 055 2301009,[email protected],www.golfugolino.it.
Price On weekdays 18 holes E60, 9 holes E45; on weekends 18 holes E80, 9 holes E55.
Can I rent clubs? Yes, E30, Calloways E48.
Club hours 0830-1900, closed Mondays, November to February.
Minimum handicap 36 (certificate required).
Facilities 18-hole course, par 72, 5800m, driving range and practice area, pool and tennis court.
After golf Bar and restaurant, with an extensive terrace (open 0830-2030).

Fact box

Meridiana (www.meridiana.it) has daily flights from London Gatwick to Florence (from £140 return). There are also flights via Milan with Alitalia (www.alitalia.co.uk) from Birmingham for £181 and from Manchester for £186. Air France, Lufthansa and SN Brussels offer transfer flights from the UK. For further golf details contact Momentum Travel, tel +44 (0)20 7371 9111,www.momentumtravel.com.

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