The Circle Golf of Ugolino

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The new course was designed by an englishman and an irishman, Cecil Blandford and Peter Gannon. They used the natural contours of the Chianti slopes to produce an outstanding course, threaded through the indigenous vines, olive trees, maritime pines and broom. The course is not long, but demands a high degree of skill. The greens are small and well defended by bunkers. The sloping fairways also present a great challenge. To play Ugolino is not just to indulge in a game of golf, it is to wander through a landscape of great natural beauty, surrounded by olive and other fruit trees. It is an unforgettable and uplifting experience. In his book “fifty places to play golf before you die”, the writer Chris Santella includes Ugolino as one of the fifty.

The clubhouse of Ugolino is an example of the futuristic or art deco school of architecture. Prevalent in the 1930s. the architect was Ghirardo Bosio, a noted city planner of the fascist period. It is a listed building, protected by the Florentine institute responsible for cultural heritage. The building sits strategically on top of a hillock surrounded by meadowland, studded with cypresses and pines. All 18 holes are laid out in a circle around the clubhouse. The building itself is a three-storey construction. The ground floor, classically, has the secretarial offices, locker rooms and pro-shop. The first floor is dedicated to a spacious bar, a restaurant and lounge. All round this floor is a huge terrace giving marvellous panoramic views of the hilly countryside. The second floor has a card room, a billiard room and a terrace which overlooks the eighteenth green.

The swimming pool is also an example of the futurist style and it too, falls under the supervision of the cultural heritage authorities. It is situated in a lovely wooded spot, not far from the clubhouse. The ceramic lining of the pool is done in a delightfully subtle variety of dark and light blue shades and stands out like a jewel against the background greenery. The pool has a trampoline and diving platform which are of a bold design bearing the signature of the great engineer Pierluigi Nervi. Its dimensions are 25m x 12.5m.

The restaurant is very light and spacious and boasts a superbly equipped kitchen.
Management is in the hands of the Societá Golf Forentia owned by the Scotto di Perotolo family three siblings, Carmine, Grazia and Maria. They are assisted by chef Stefano Mangini and the ever courteous Sarah. The family is from Campania originally and their passion is to combine the traditional tastes of Campania and Tuscany into exciting dishes. All of which are of course accompanied by quality wines. They provide a flexible all day service to accommodate the needs of golfers. During the summer an open air grill around the poolside on thursday evenings has become a “must.” Guests who come to golf at Ugolino retain a warm and lasting memory of the restaurant.

The British community in Florence brought golf to Italy in 1889 when they built an 18 hole course on land belonging to the princes Demidoff, just north of the city. In 1934 a new course was created at the edge of the beautiful Chianti country and the Ugolino golf club came into existence, taking over the mantle of the Florence golf club.

Besides numbering many Champions among its Member, both amateur and professional, Ugolino has hosted numerous international competition. Outstanding among these was the 40th Italian Open in 1983. This Remains probably, the most enthralling tournament ever played in Italy. It was won, in the end, by Bernard Langer following a thrilling play-off with Severiano Ballesteros and Sandy Lyle. In addition to them, the field boasted such giants of the game as Greg Norman, Sam Torrance, Pinero, Canizares and Brown, not to mention the leading italians of the time, Costantino Rocca and Baldovino Dassù. The Event is still vivid in the memory of the older Members. In 2009, in recognition of its long service to golf, the Italian Olimpic Commitee awarded Ugolino the Gold Medal for sporting achievement. As a further honour, Ugolino can claim no fewer than three out of the eleven members of the Hall of Fame of Italian golf, nominated by the Italian PGA. These are Baldovino Dassù, Federica Dassù and Franco Rosi, recognised for their contribution to the development of golf in Italy.

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