A perfect day at the Castelfalfi Golf Club
By Alberto Genovesi (Italy4golf co-founder)
We leave early in the morning for a golf destination that has always been in our wishes: the Castelfalfi Golf Club, in the heart of Tuscany. It had been a long time, in fact, that my wife Ilaria and I wanted to take a holiday in these areas and play at Castelfalfi, for two excellent reasons:
- sporty: because the Mountain Course of this club is the second most difficult golf course in Italy, and challenging it for two definitely amateur golfers is a great challenge.
- touristic: the Castle of Castelfalfi, with its medieval village that rises right above the golf course, is a magical and, indisputably, typically Tuscan place.
Once off the motorway, the navigator begins to take us along roads immersed in the peculiar Tuscan countryside: olive trees, cypresses and vines are everywhere, and the villages that dominate these fertile lands emerge here and there. While curve after curve (there are an infinity of them!) I look around, I cannot fail to notice the vineyards and the bunches that will be harvested in a few days, already anticipating the result of this vintage to be savoured in the coming years.
A few minutes from Castelfalfi, we enter a peripheral street and after a sharp turn suddenly opens before us the magnificent scenery of the valley where you can clearly see a part of the golf course, called Lake Course (already clarifying how much water you will find there…).
We continue along an avenue of cypresses and once parked we move towards the Club House to introduce ourselves and collect the essential golf car (don’t think about walking the Mountain Course, that’s impossible!). The welcome is worthy of a very high-level location and a very kind caddy master gives us the car with a minibar containing bottles of water and ice, with an invitation to ask again if needed at the end of the first nine holes.
Before starting we decide to have a second breakfast since the first was several hours earlier, and we enter the modern and welcoming bar/restaurant area, just opened, which overlooks the courses. A brand new structure that integrates perfectly with the other neighbouring buildings that are rustic and perfectly in tune with the surrounding environment. The quality of the breakfast reflects the place we are in: everything is taken care of in the smallest detail, with high-level food from the territory and precise and punctual service.
Finally on the tee of hole 1 and immediately it is clear that it will not be easy! But it does not matter: the scenario in which we are immersed is truly unique, and as we approach the ball that went perfectly on the “fairway”, we continue to look up, where on the hill the ancient village of Castelfalfi observes us in the middle in flashes of sunshine. Today the climate is really perfect for playing.
The course is in excellent condition, the maintenance is truly incredible, the grass is perfect everywhere and the greens are real billiards in which the ball, if you are not more than attentive to the force that is imparted, can run and stop quietly at double of the meters you were previously from the hole.
As we move from one hole to the next, we can’t help but stop and take pictures of the landscape and the Borgo which looks different from every corner of the pitch.
We continue our journey (the car equipped with GPS is very useful!) and we arrive at hole 5. We stop and take a look at the length of the hole from our respective starting tees: yellow men…. meters, red women…. meters!! I can not believe it seems to never end… it is very long, slightly uphill and with a slight “dogleg” to the left: the flag never seems to arrive in sight… I omit here, for decency, the number of strokes to reach it! I’m just saying it’s really worth trying.
After the first nine holes, of which the last with a green to be tackled from the top of the hill and surrounded by a pond, we move towards the next nine, which is the real Mountain Course.
The course becomes really challenging: the holes are often uphill, even steep, with deep defensive bunkers, but with soft and perfect sand, and fairways not always wide enough (at least for golfers, not exactly “pro”, as we are), you have to be really precise in the game if you don’t want to end up with depressing results. The car is essential because many transfers, even if not very long, are often uphill and after a few holes I think it is really difficult not to give way to fatigue, with consequent unfortunate results on the game…
During the various holes, you are always surrounded by the enveloping nature of the Tuscan hills and by beautifully restored farmhouses; it seems to be in an environment that has not been artificially modified to create the golf course but, rather, that this has been created in the context of the already existing landscape, and the result is truly a perfect symbiosis in which the golf course and the village relate to creating references that do not end in functional reciprocity but lead to aesthetic complicity such as to suggest that one could not exist without the other.
By now we are almost at the end of the course, we are approaching the 18th hole: a blind par4 downhill and with a dogleg on the right and… suddenly you realize that the green is down there surrounded by water. For a moment the gaze rests on the Lake path that winds down to our left and with the light coming down it takes on a charm all its own… but we can’t get distracted right now! We get ready to play… one last shot… both balls (mine and my lady’s) fall as if by magic on the green allowing us to close our round with a comforting result. Luckily!
We return to the clubhouse to indulge in something fresh and relax while we enjoy the panorama of the field with the sunset lights before moving for the night to San Gimignano, whose characteristic thirteenth-fourteenth century architecture practically intact of the historic centre has allowed him to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In less than 30 minutes we arrive at our hotel, in the heart of the town in the square under the magnificent medieval towers. Time to settle down and go for a walk in the wonderful streets of this inimitable place loved by tourists from all over the world. Despite the difficult situation related to tourism, we are pleased to note that there are many foreigners who walk like us, often with their noses upwards to look at the towers and other buildings.
Up early, a road with a thousand curves, challenging golf, a walk in the center, and now the hunger kicks in and we head towards the “Bel Soggiorno” restaurant, recommended by the Italy4golf sommelier and Tuscan ambassador Fabio Ceccarelli. I can’t wait to enjoy a nice Tuscan dinner!
The environment is welcoming and the table is right next to a large window from which you can admire the landscape of the countryside around the town, even if the light is now low, you can distinguish the poetic contours of this fairytale landscape.
A quick glance at the menu and the choice can only fall on the typical appetizers and, above all, on a sumptuous 1.3 kg. Fiorentina accompanied by a fried mix of seasonal vegetables, all bathed in a bottle of Nobile di Montepulciano recommended by the very kind owner.
A perfect dinner at the end of a day full of emotions, fun and moments that we will remember for a long time.
Tomorrow we leave for Siena, where another golf course with a top-level resort awaits us, the Royal Golf & Resort La Bagnaia, we can’t wait for it!