Argentario Golf Club - Course Review
2023 is a seminal year for golf in Italy, which plays host to the Ryder Cup for the first time at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club. With this potentially being a breakout year for Italian clubs, Golfshake sent Ambassador Rob Treanor to Argentario Golf & Wellness Resort to see what other venues in the region have to offer.
Argentario Golf & Wellness Resort is a refined and luxurious retreat, set in its own stunning valley in the pretty region of Tuscany. The exclusive venue takes golf very seriously and boasts Italy’s PGA National Course alongside a full complement of practice facilities. Also on offer at the hotel is a first class fitness and wellness centre, two restaurants, 73 luxurious guest rooms and a host of other amenities.
Pre Round Thoughts
The scenery surrounding this venue is quite sublime. As if the mountains which wrap around the valley on three sides weren’t enough, the Mediterranean Sea is visible from most holes on the course, making this an incredible visual treat. The venue is very secluded with the tranquillity not disturbed by aeroplane, train or traffic noise. The soundtrack is simply the soothing chorus of local birdlife and perhaps the gentle whistling of the wind, creating a peaceful and tranquil ambiance.
The practice facilities at the club are first class, featuring an expansive driving range, three putting greens and two chipping greens. The par 71 course is very walkable though buggies are available for hire if required. The golfing facilities are all closely located which makes for great convenience. As it happens this isn’t the last example of excellent design the venue has to offer…
What a course. Two excellent opening holes get proceedings off to a lively start before the blockbuster third hole. The tee shot on three is a contender for the best driving hole in Europe. The land in front of the tee box drops off dramatically to the bottom of the valley which is framed by the incredible mountains, as well as the sea in the distance. This is a breathtaking start to a par five which is typical of the course; not gratuitously long but demanding of skill and precision to stay in the hole and avoid the big trouble. The long, narrow green is a challenge to hit from distance, particularly the lower tier towards the rear. This hole is truly world class.
The sixth is another superb par five with plenty of water to dance around. Water protects the right hand side of the landing zone from the tee, after which the fairway crosses a stream and gallops off to the right. Now the trouble emanates from the lagoon which runs alongside the fairway all the way up to the green. This is a course which rewards good positioning and patience.
Some excellent par threes punctuate the front nine at two, five and eight, but it is the par five ninth hole which steals the show. An appealing drive needs to be positioned well before the hole transforms in both look and feel. From the landing zone the fairway canters off to the left and develops a not insignificant slope from left to right. A lagoon keeps the fairway company all the way to the green making the second shot more challenging. Even more daunting is the approach shot as the water pinches in from the right to protect the front of the green. This is an excellent golf hole.
A refreshing water dispenser is conveniently located beside the driving range at the half way point. In keeping with the resort’s luxury facilities, there is even a setting to dispense sparkling water into your bottle… a touch of Italian style! The clubhouse is also within stumbling distance should something stronger be required.
The tee box on ten feels like it is the epicentre of the entire resort. The teeing area features commanding views down across the course with the hole playing straight towards the sea and the spectacular mountains either side framing the view beautifully. After a pleasing downhill drive, a characteristically accurate approach shot is required to safely find the green. A stream intersecting the fairway and green will swallow anything short, with trees narrowing the margin for error on either side. The green slopes from back to front making for some fast putts back down the hill for those who played it too safe in order to avoid the water…
The sequence of finishing holes is particularly strong and amongst the most memorable on the course. The par four 16th has an incredible double height crescent shaped green which curves dramatically around an ancient olive tree. Find the wrong section here and face a very complicated putt or three! The signature 17th hole is a long par three played over a lagoon and usually into the prevailing sea breeze. Only the best of tee shots will find the short turf here.
Finally, the testing 18th hole can make or break a round. A muscled drive must clear both the ditch and the tall trees which line it, to find the fairway which is set almost at a right angle. The brave tee shot is aimed right to shorten the distance to the green, though this route requires a longer carry to avoid the ditch and also brings a suite of bunkers into play. The second shot is played uphill to the green which is perched in front of the hotel and feels almost like an amphitheatre, which adds drama and atmosphere to the finishing blows. There is plenty of movement on the green leading to some twisting, winding putts which have the potential for a final thrill at the end of this exhilarating course.
Post Round Thoughts
The expansive terrace at The Clubhouse overlooks the golf course and is an inviting prospect at the end of the round. As it happens, The Clubhouse at Argentario is much more than a regular 19th hole, though more on that in our Stay & Play Review which will be released shortly. A cold drink can be accompanied by typical golfing fare such as a club sandwich, though there is an excellent selection of local Italian dishes and tempting daily specials. In keeping with the resort’s emphasis on sustainability and provenance, the ingredients originate either from the resort’s own orchard garden or from the local market. A top tip is to try the warm focaccia bread with house made olive oil for dipping.
Whilst the golf course makes an impression the first time it is played, its true layers are only unveiled when the experience is repeated. When planning a trip to the area it is worth noting that Argentario has partnerships with many local clubs, including the host venue of the 2023 Ryder Cup; Marco Simone. This makes the Tuscany region and Argentario’s excellent hotel an ideal location for an extended Italian break.
The quality of this golf course is hard to overstate and the challenge in writing this review was figuring out which holes to leave out. The unifying theme is intelligent design which rewards great shot making. The result is a collection of thrilling holes which are bold, expressive and quite brilliant. The landscape on which the course is set adds to the drama with the picturesque mountains and Mediterranean Sea which border the region ever present.
The ethos of the venue is about provenance and purity. As such no chemicals are permitted in the maintenance of the course which has resulted in some novel strategies such as scattering fresh chillies to keep birds off the greens! Having attained BioAgricert certification, the venue’s commitment to the local environment ensures that this golfing paradise is at one with its natural surroundings. Credentials like this have resulted in Argentario’s PGA National becoming the first 5-star resort in Italy to belong to the Marriott golf portfolio.
During our trip to Italy we were lucky to play the course more than once. The first round made quite an impression, the second revealed more of the course’s secrets. This Tuscan treat is one of the finest courses in Italy and left us longing for more. Ciao Argentario, if only for now.
For more information, please visit https://www.argentarioresort.it/en/
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|Argentario Golf Club
from 6 reviews