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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.


Fantastic day at the Franciacorta Golf Club


I am going to tell you the chronicle of a fantastic day at Franciacorta Golf Club. Sit comfortably in front of the screen after you have prepared an aperitif to consume while you will be reading these lines.

You can choose between the ordinary popcorn & olives and something more elaborated, like crostini with slices of cured meat and flakes of cheeses of the valleys, everything rigorously made in Brescia. Maybe you can also add some delicacies from the South, dried Pachino and buffalo mozzarella, which are definitely good for the spirit and the palate.

Whatever your choice is for the food, to drink you must have the original Franciacorta sparkling wine. I put this as an obligation, or you will not be able to smell scents, hear sounds and feel flavors that I have absorbed today, October 29th. Those who do not drink wine can abandon this reading and settle in the locker room.

I am in one of the Lombardy historic golf courses. Yes, it is, since 1927 is the first year for Franciacorta Golf Club when Baron Pizzini decided that bringing near Iseo Lake our fascinating sport was all well and good. You know, maybe I am fantasizing, but I like to think that he also did it to “settle the score” with the nearby Lake Garda, which in 1912 had seen the birth of the Bogliaco GC. Let us pretend that is what happened…

As we know it today, the Franciacorta golf is the result of a recent revision. In 1984 Pete Dye and Marco Croze approached a magical, green and rich in water territory, driven by the initiative of a group of wine and construction entrepreneurs. In 1985 they handed over to our lands the eighteen-hole course, where all of us, at least once, went to admire the design, the scenery and the maniacal order of the whole property.

To close the historiography of this golf club, I will speak about the creation of nine more holes, in 2009, called Rosè, which, together with the existing Brut and Satén, have brought Franciacorta closer to a more touristic concept. The offer of twenty-seven holes can satisfy all golf palates, both from the technical and entertaining profile.

And today we will tell you about it. The team is on the field, divided into irregular groups. Mario is wandering to take high definition photographs while I am on the two “historical” paths, making clumps and losing balls in the woods, as usual. Let me already put a note of redaction to the average hcp (I am stuck on the twenty-three since immemorial time): play games with balls in your bag, do not be the prodigy who says: “for me, a box of three is enough to last me out”, or “but yes, we will find some along the way”. No, not only will you not find anything, but you will lose some of yours for sure. Forewarned man…

The day is superb. The sky is peacock blue, around here is not so obvious, and the colors of autumn paint pictures of a nature that the Macchiaioli of the late nineteenth century could not imagine to realize, even if they say it was much better than today. I am happy for the fellow photographer; he will bring home loads of beautiful images, among which it will be hard to make a choice.

Exhausted the quarter of an hour of warm-up at the driving range with a diligent lightness, I take advantage of an unusual break between the departures to sneak, happy and solitary, few minutes before the tee-time. Cheers to us!

It happens to many of us traveling golfers to memorize some shots, not for the beauty but the consequences of a wrong hit. When you later return to this course to try the experience again, it will be as if there is a superior hand that conducts the golf orchestra. A shot ended on the right, or a dip in the pond on the left with the second shot. Well, those mistakes will keep happening. In my case, the conflictual relationship I have with Brut 1 is showed in the devious irrigation cabinet, which is well inside the grove on the right, before the dogleg. He is totally out of the game, it is not his fault, but because I am a serial slice maker, I get it all the time. Even this morning, as usual, when I shot the first ball with satisfying dignity, there came in response a handful of seconds later, the plastic-against-plastic blow, which once again forced me to go and read the brand of the water system closely…

Filed finally what I practically called on myself, will be all enjoyment from now on. The first nine holes slip away with a constant: the beauty, suggested by the green of big trees and by various canals and lakes populated by fauna and aquatic vegetation, which cannot escape the keen eye of golf tourists.

Slopes, not so much tiring ones, help the spirit and the training and offer fascinating views, before on the surrounding hills, now on the carousel of holes of the three paths, which you see in groups as you continue on the course.

Therefore, the Brut passed with flying colors; you can well imagine how the player, arrived at the nine, is incited for a stop in the clubhouse for a first taste. We are in Corte Franca, surrounded by vineyards. Only a fundamentalist who does not drink alcohol can resist the temptation. And neither I nor my friend Mario are. That’s why we find ourselves together at the counter and allow us the first round of bubbles. And why not, even a second!

In short, he returns to shoot, and I walk. Next on the Satén, the 10 is almost a mirror copy of the 1, only with a different concept of water. Not a pond on the side but an insidious frontal canal, but the ball even this time ends up in it, confirming what I said before. Yeah, there is a direction for all this for sure.

But it matters little because it gets better, with the hole of the island, beautiful and dangerous as the mermaid who called Ulysses. From beginning to end, there is not an inch of land, only a lake. How many dives, but not this time! Now my game has improved, a 9-iron well used makes my ball fly over 110 meters and land in the middle of the green, giving me great satisfaction. Gone!

The tour continues foaming, in every aspect. It could not be otherwise, with the perfect combination of environment and design of the course that now becomes light, then resumes to climb and descend as on a carousel of other times. Until the grand finale comes, the most difficult of the holes in the path. Yes, because along the 18th hole, you vaguely sense the graceful and discreet shapes of the clubhouse, surrounded by vegetation. You notice from the hardened legs that you are at the end of the lap, but then you realize that you are on hcp-1 and that your arrival will not be at all easy. Brilliant combination, probably random: 9 is hcp-18. Beauty and the beast, in short, but the simplicity of the numbers will not be able to scratch what the golf tourist will appreciate most: what a great golf course this is!

The territory: Franciacorta and Lake Iseo

Lake Iseo and Franciacorta are the portions of the province of Brescia that comes closest to the idea of high-end tourism. The lake is partially suitable for holidays or walks, but the hinterland is aimed markedly at the quality of the visitor unrelated to the search for momentary fun.

In this sense, the numerous wineries where is made the legendary sparkling wine has worked well. The evolution, from a farm with wine production to structures that are closer to the look of gorgeus resorts, has created a movement of demanding enthusiasts in constant research of perfection.

Therefore, the general quality of the territory, the operators directly involved, the ancillary industries benefit from this. In fact, everyone has understood its potential; the fact that this portion geographically speaking is relatively small increases the concentration of points of interest and the ease of use by visitors.

From the naturalistic point of view, there are two obligatory stop-overs: the protected oasis called “Le Torbiere” and Montisola. The second one is reachable with different naval solutions, where you can spend a day strolling in the tiny hamlets and try the typical cuisine based on lake fish.

There is a lot of history in Franciacorta. There are many villas and castles of different eras. Besides, if the stay time allows it, in less than one-hour drive, there are the parks of rock engravings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Closer to our times, enthusiasts can move a few kilometres and reach the Bergamo part of Lake Iseo to visit the museum of the Riva shipyards, whose name does not need explanations.

If you dedicate several days to this land, you can then take advantage of its proximity to Milan, as well as, of course, to Brescia and its beauty. The traveling golfer can also visit the nearby Lake Garda to extend the gaming experience, trying some of the best Italian courses, two of which hosted the Italian Open (Gardagolf and Chervo San Vigilio).

Roberto Van Heugten
Italy4golf Italian Ambassador

If you want to feel the same emotions of Roberto we have prepared for you this Experience: Golf & Wine, a sparkling blending in Franciacorta

Baron Pizzini, Bergamo, Brescia, Corte Franca, Franciacorta, Franciacorta Golf Club, Franciacorta sparkling wine, Lake Iseo, Le torbiere, Marco Croze, Milan, Montisola, Pete Dye, Riva shipyards, Unesco


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