by Edward Kiersh
Villa Castagnola Italy – The adventure begins by first snaking past long-abandoned border outposts, into and out of Switzerland and Italy every few miles. Houses and small hillside farms also seem to be forsaken, and that’s understandable. The one lane roads here, twisting and turning, are mean and harrowing, edging precariously close to cliffs dropping off into oblivion.
It wasn’t easy leaving the comfortable confines of the five-star, Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola, an 1880-built getaway once home to a noble Russian family that sits wondrously right on Lake Lugano. Instead of braving “mad” Italian drivers hurtling through hairpin turns, it would have been far less blood-curdling to sit at one of the Villa’s bars smoking a Cuban cigar, dining in the Michelin-starred Gallery Arté al Lago restaurant, or simply watching the world go by in the Castagnola’s sculpture garden.
by Dave Finn – as published in the December 2017 issue of “The Jigger”, the official newsletter of The Golf Historical Society of Canada.
As a member of The Golf Historical Society of Canada, I’m sure you’ve dreamt about playing in your 19th century regalia, using hickory-shafted clubs while plying your skills on some of the most historic links golf courses in the world.
Last month, I had the unforgettable opportunity of not only participating in the 13th annual LinkedGolfers World Hickory Open Championship in East Lothian, but I also won the two-day Stableford event at Kilspindie!
Not only was this my first visit to Scotland – the “Home of Golf” – which has taken on a whole new meaning for me: it was also my first time playing with hickory clubs that were graciously provided by local collector Chris Homer. I should also mention that Chris was instrumental in organizing a 10-day hickory golf event on the Plains of Abraham to celebrate Quebec City’s 450th birthday!
After a horrendous practise round, Chris consoled me when he said that “every hickory club has its own personality. You have to get to know them individually” but it wasn’t until our official starter Allan Crow, placed his hand on my shoulder and told me “low and slow laddie, low and slow” that I finally caught on. It also didn’t take me long to learn how to hit a bump-and-run shot since nothing would hold on those Scottish greens.
By Dave Finn as published on pages 60 and 61 in the Summer 2017 Issue of Travel Life Magazine
Croeso i Gymru (Kroy-sore ee Gum-ree) – Welcome to Wales
It’s hard to imagine that Wales was once voted the Undiscovered Golf Destination of the World, but no more – the secret is out! After hosting the Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor in 2010 and The Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl in 2014, quiet Wales has asserted itself as a world-class golf destination and yet, it remains the place to go if you’re seeking an unspoiled, unpretentious, unhurried golf vacation.
Escaping from the hustle and bustle of London, it took us slightly over two hours to reach the Wye Bridge and cross over into Chepstow, home to what is considered the oldest surviving stone castle in Britain and our first stop in in Wales. Shortly after crossing the border we found ourselves driving through the 400-acre, former deer park that surrounds the St. Pierre Marriott Hotel and Golf Club, a Marriott unlike any I’ve stayed at before. Impressive was the word that sprang to mind when we first saw the 14th-century manor house and 11th century church that sits at the heart of this resort. Within minutes, we were escorted to our room overlooking the 9th green and the 10th tee box of the ‘new’ course, and I felt like we had ‘arrived’.
Porthcawl, Wales – On July 24th Wales will welcome their first ever major golf Championship when the 2014 Senior Open takes place at the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. Wales has hosted many national and international events including the Walker Cup, four European Tour Welsh Classics and The Amateur Championship six times, but a Major has always eluded them, until now.
Porthcawl dates back to 1891 and comes with a fine pedigree. It is currently ranked #1 in Wales and #86 in the world according to the Top 100 Golf Courses of the World. From the clubhouse, you can see the beachfront views to the south and across the Swansea Bay to the rugged coastline of the Gower Peninsula to the northwest.
“Asolo Mio” Asolo Golf Club – Italy by Dave Finn
Not exactly the words penned by the famed Italian poet Giovanni Capurro in 1898 for the classic song “O Sole Mio” but the lyrics definitely inspired me as we left behind the hustle and bustle of the Venice train station.
What a beautiful thing is a sunny day … But another sun, that’s brighter still…It’s my own sun that’s upon your face!
My ever smiling face reflected how truly blessed I was to be able to freely enjoy Italian history, heritage, food and wine in my quest to write these articles for you, but I had another reason to smile that I am sure you will appreciate. You can’t go to Italy and not check out the cathedrals, museums, famous fountains and statues. Everything we saw was fabulous, don’t get me wrong but I was feeling the need for wide open spaces, preferably with a club in my hand, and I knew I was less than a couple of hours away from hitting the links!
by Jane Finn
Siena Italy – If you are a history buff or a horse-racing fan then more than likely you know that Siena continues to operate as a true medieval city. Ruled by its 17 contrades, every year the city hosts the world renowned Il Palio, a serious, no-holds barred, bareback race around the stunning Piazza del Campo, where the winning team earns nothing more than the all important victory flag and a year’s worth of bragging rights.
Have you ever dreamed of playing golf among the ancient landscapes of Europe, so steeped with history that you can almost taste it? Well I can! It’s September and the roads and hillsides of the Chianti region of Tuscany are lined with row upon row of grapes almost ready to harvest. Last night, we’re in Greve celebrating the season and sampling wine and olive oil. Today I played my first round in Italy at the oldest Golf Club in the country. How cool is that?
By Jane Finn
Despite the fact that I studied art history and Dave architecture at university, after Rome and Florence, we were on historical and cultural ‘overload’. We knew that like fine wine and great food, we needed a break to experience the ‘dolce vita’ and not rush our Venice experience. Firmly believing that the charm of the Veneto community extended well beyond the lagoon, we grabbed a rental car at the Maestro station and headed for the countryside and a couple of rounds of golf before venturing off to Venezia, reportedly the most visited city in the world.
Tuscany is well known as the land of sunflowers, fields of poppies, olive groves and beautiful historical cities, but it may not be the first place that comes to mind when you are planning a golf vacation. Home to more than 35 golf courses, Tuscany is a secret paradise for golfers who enjoy not only an excellent round or two but also the finer things in life – great hospitality, fabulous wines, gastronomic delights, culture and luxurious accommodations.