Roberto Van Heugten

Roberto Van Heugten, emerging writer with many publications to his credit, writes of game on the pages of Italy4golf, in the column "Lost balls in Italy".
The narrative is different: in fact, in its pages it speaks of sport, but above all of territories and hospitality.

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Chervò Golf Hotel & SPA Resort San Vigilio

LOST BALLS IN ITALY – BY ROBERTO VAN HEUGTEN

I am comfortably sitting on the terrace outside the Club House of Chervò Golf Hotel & SPA Resort San Vigilio, the famous golf, hotel, resort and spa built during the first decade of 2000 in one of the most beautiful areas of northern Italy.

The southern shore of Lake Garda, flanked on the edges by the moraine amphitheater, here opens on softer slopes, where the wise hand of man has furnished hundreds of hectares with the powerful vineyards of Lugana, while the force of forward-looking operators has created the ideal offer for a tourism of excellence.

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I have been frequenting Chervò for several years, both as a player and as a customer. I like to share my experience with my closest golf friends. Today I chose to do it in a different way than usual: I sent Ilaria and Alberto on the course with a couple of “instructions” for the use of the course, and I’m waiting their return. They are skilled players, thus I know the wait will not be long.

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But even so, let’s say that the hours spent at Chervò are never wasted. The first glass, a Lugana produced 500 meters from here, golden, fresh and with a pleasant scent is accompanying the view across the course.

Just below, two greens, joined together to form a huge shaved carpet, are the arrival of the paths Benàco and Solferino, the yellow and red in the circle colors. While the red nine, par 5, shows only the second shot and beyond, the yellow nine is completely shown and it is fascinating by the lake that divides the two fairways. In the center of the water a large fountain creates splashes and steam twisted by the breeze, almost a constant in this area.

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Thirty-six holes cannot all be told here, as you can imagine. Nor do I intend to do so, because there is much more that deserves to be narrated. Already said red and yellow, I’ll cite white and blue as a courtesy. San Martino is the first one, with a spectacular view on the homonymous Tower from Risorgimento ages; the second one is a fun Executive path, with nine par 3 where to practice the second shot of the major circuits and the entire set of approaches and exits from the bunkers is a pleasant dare.

Let’s say that the designer, the Austrian Kurt Rossknecht, has well exploited the lot he had available, creating a field where all golf skills can be fully at stake.

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While I am telling you these things, the glass is gone. Ilaria and Alberto are not here yet, the thirst increases with a little peckish. The scam of this place is the kitchen. Almost always open, from lunch time onwards you can ask for anything, so I feel forced to call the maître and order a carbonara and another glass of wine, without regard for my physical form. What a life, guys!

Well, it may be a sign, but while my command is sent to the kitchen, my friends arrive on the fairway of the red nine. Eighteen holes in just over three hours, great! But now I really want to look at them, approaching the green with a small channel put in front at a distance that seems calculated specifically to make them swallow balls until it burst! That ditch is a goddamn trap.

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I’m moving to one of the chairs in the grass for a better view of the hole. They are on the third shot: Alberto more advanced, can try his shot of the day. Ilaria is slightly behind, who knows how she will decide to manage the approach. Therefore, it is up to her to begin the approach to the green: I see she takes an iron for short distance, she does not want to take the risk of the frontal obstacle. Try, try again, hit! The ball flies high, it remains suspended in the air to take the aerosol stolen from the fountain and carried by the wind, then it dives in until it stops a few meters from the ditch. Perfect calculation, golf women are invincible machines for precision rather than power.

Ah, yeah! Now it is his turn. From about the 100 meters where he is, he is dead meat. If he stays short, there will be water. If he runs long, there will be the protection bunker, the lake side and the out of limit waiting for him. Every day other dozens of players are in the same conditions. But what is he doing? He’s holding a very short wedge and he wants to attack the flag with the third shot. “Okay, my friend, you may be good, but you’re about to get hurt, you know?“. He does a quick test, even too fast. He’s excited, a sign that comes from a good course and he wants to finish big; I imagine him dreaming of a birdie to tell to mock mediocre amateurs like me… he lets go the shot, the cry pushes the flight of the green clod that is bigger than the white ball. Clamorous fat shot, the ball is in the water! Damns on the starboard, laughs on the terrace! I could not help myself, I’m evil, I know. But when it is needed…

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After finishing the course with a tired hail of putts, back on the terrace Ilaria and Alberto notice first my affection for the steaming carbonara just arrived at the table. I welcome their enthusiastic comments on the gaming experience just ended. Of course, that damn last-breath dive was not good, but golf always turns out to be the ugly beast it is. The course was really liked, Ilaria will bring an excellent memory of its versatility which also makes the difficult areas practicable by any level player.

Once the ritual pleasantries are over, they decide to replace the snack and wine break with a wellness path in the spa adjacent to the hotel. After all, they have given themselves a long weekend on the Garda, where of course they prefer the game, but not only.

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They greet me, I see them walking away to the hotel kissed by the sun while I finish the last bite of spaghetti, delicious as always, and I take the last sip of Lugana before going home.

Chervò is also this: a snack from the restaurant’s menu, a chat with friends, the green background of a course that appears as an excellent combination of sport technique and tourist approach to the game of golf.

So far, the numbers have given prestige and reason to the entrepreneurial project of Chervò San Vigilio, and a slap in the face to many beliefs that wanted to keep golf a restricted prerogative of people reluctant of its spread. With these reflections I head towards the exit, not before having snooped in the meeting room to find out which company today has used the conference area created in the large spaces of the clubhouse. I will come back to play another time, my circle is open 365 days a year and among these I will certainly find the ideal one!

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The territory around the Chervò San Vigilio

The southern bank of Lake Garda is home to a varied range of entertainment sports. The typical activities of the holiday places, linked to water, that are flanked by a network of cycle paths drawn between the hills, perfectly marked and that you can do with relative safety. For our part, for us golf enthusiasts I mean, well… how many other places in Italy can be called a “perfect golf destination“?

Three exits of the Milan-Venice highway, eighteen kilometers apart, accompany the tourist on the shortest road to reach seven golf courses, of which Chervò San Vigilio is the one with the most complete offer for both sport and accommodation. So here you can settle the “base camp” from which you move to visit other circles. “Seven courses in seven days” can be the title of the next ideal golf trip, to be clear.

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Let’s leave for a moment irons, trolleys and cleats; let’s focus on experiences. We are between Valtènesi, Alto Garda Bresciano, the morainic hills of Mantua, the first slopes of Monte Baldo and the banks of Mincio. There is everything, ladies and gentlemen!

Small local gastronomic productions, well divided between cold cuts, preserves, products made with lemons, cedars, saffron, truffles, mushrooms. Organic cosmetics made from lavender, autochthonous flowers, thermal waters that abound under a layer of ancient volcanic origin. The wines, represented by Groppello, Chiaretto, Lugana, Marzemino, Bardolino and just above Valpolicella.

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All of this originate from a long history. In the lower Garda you move between prehistoric settlements in pile-dwelling areas, Roman finds, medieval castles, Renaissance villas, monuments of the Risorgimento and Liberation Wars, churches from all ages. Testimonies of how important this territory has been since the origins of humanity can be found in all the towns and small villages that dot the eternal green of the countryside in a context of order and organization that helps Lake Garda to be the most frequented Italian tourist district (year 2018: 25 million presences).

Roberto Van Heugten
Italy4golf Italian Ambassador
buonavita.me

Alto Garda bresciano, Bardolino, Chervò Golf Hotel & SPA Resort San Vigilio, Chiaretto, Groppello, Kurt Rossknecht, Lago di Garda, Lugana, Marzemino, Monte Baldo, Roberto Van Heugten, Valpolicella, Valtènesi

Experiences Ryder Cup 2023

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