Fly to Bologna from Gatwick with British Airways (www.britishairways.com) or
from Stansted to Parma with Ryanair (www.ryanair.com).
WHERE TO PLAY
With 20 courses, most of which opened in the last 25 years, Emilia Romagna was voted Emerging Golf Destination of the Year by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators in 2004. With such a plethora of exciting tracks on offer the travelling golfer is spoiled for choice.
The basic decision upon landing at Bologna is whether to head east or west? The former leads towards the beaches of the Adriatic and some stunning courses ? Rimini GC and Cervia being among the best. To the west you?ll find beautiful layouts on the planes around Parma then more in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains.
So to the west, designed by former Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer and opened in 1990 Modena G&CC is recognised as one of Italy?s finest courses. It?s been the venue for a number of top-level competitions, including the Italian Open. It?s a challenging and, at points, daunting course. The tees and greens are large and well manicured and the smooth fairways wind elegantly through the hazards.
At the most northern tip of the region, Croara CC is a few miles south of Piacenza. Close to the Apennine foothills this is a stunning setting for golf and the course is tight and tricky. Mature oaks and poplars provide the bulk of the protection and as these line most holes there is little margin for error. One of the region?s older layouts, you get a feeling of permanence here.
Heading back towards Bologna, Golf Club La Rocca is close to the ancient city of Parma. The course is set in rolling countryside among acacias and oaks. Tight fairways and water hazards are once again the order of the day and some strategic play is essential. The clubhouse restaurant is steeped in character and offers excellent Italian cuisine.
Heading east, Golf Club Bologna can be found. Relative to the other courses in the region, this is of real vintage. Designed by Henry Cotton it was built in 1959, occupying an elevated position some 116m above sea level. Offering superb sweeping views of the surrounding countryside, it?s an established and mature parkland course in excellent condition. Once again the restaurant deserves a mention in its own right.
Just a few miles to the north of Forli you will come across Golf Club I Fiordalisi, a nine-holer. This is a beautiful course which winds through an attractive tree-lined landscape. It?s well manicured, boasts excellent facilities and at over 3,300 yards with a par of 36 it?s certainly no pushover. In fact, it would provide a challenge for even the most competent player. The club is also a destination for food lovers as the clubhouse restaurant is marked on the ?Wine and Food Route of the Hills of Forli and Cesena?. Northwards from here is Golf Club Le Fonti. Situated between Imola and Bologna in the delightfully tranquil Sillaro Valley, Le Fonti is a relatively new course. Designed by Ivano Serrantoni and opened in 1999 the layout still requires a little time to mature fully. Having said this there?s no denying that it?s an impressive and thoroughly enjoyable track. The valley enjoys a microclimate where the weather can often be drier and warmer than the surrounding area while the rolling hills provide an appealing backdrop.
Set in the hills south of Bologna is Golf Club Molino del Pero. Situated some 320m above sea-level this is a tricky course which offers stunning views and some very interesting holes. The original nine was opened in 1991, with the second 9 holes, which are flatter but equally spectacular, inaugurated in 2006. The clubhouse here used to be a mill ? it?s full of character and extremely comfortable.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Villa Fiorita, an art nouveau building in the heart of Salsomaggiore near Parma. It?s a luxurious place to stay with comfortable rooms and an excellent dining room. The hotel has a gym and offers bicycles for hire so you can explore the town.
Golden Tulip Aemilia Hotel is located in central Bologna just a short walk from the famous leaning towers, this is a comfortable and functional four-star hotel.
FC Parma play in Italy?s Serie A. You can catch one of their home matches throughout the season at the Tardini Stadium.
Lamborghini, Ducati, Ferrari and Maserati all have factories located in this area. All run fascinating guided tours.
For the more culturally minded try the Estense Library in Modena.
Where to play
Modena Golf & Country Club
T: 0039 0595 53482
Croara Country Club
T: 0039 0523 977105
Golf Club La Rocca
T: 0039 0521 834037
Golf Club Bologna
T: 0039 0519 69100
Golf Club I Fiordalisi
T: 0039 0543 89553
Golf Club Le Fonti
T: 0039 0516 951958
Golf Club Molino del Pero
T: 0039 0516 770506
Discounts are available through Emilia Romagna Golf. The company can organise every element of your holiday other than the flight.
T: 0039 0544 973340
For general tourist information log on to www.emiliaromagnaturismo.it,
www.enit.it or www.adriacoast.com
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Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly.
Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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