Argentina: The Hidden Gem of Tuscany – Golf News

Proud of Italy’s only PGA National Championship golf course and a luxury hotel and spa, Argentario Golf and Wellness Resort The intact coastline of Tuscany provides a comfortable retreat, yet within significant distances from Rome’s world-famous attractions, Golf News Editor Nick Bailey writes

With golf all eyes on Italy as the host country for the 2023 Ryder Cup next year, it seems like a good time to first look at what offers golfers have to offer in terms of playing venues before the biennial collision of the continent next September, time and possibly later.

While the Ryder Cup matches are being held at the Marco Simon Golf and Country Club in the northeastern suburbs of Rome, my trip took me to a golf resort 90 miles north of the Italian capital that is quietly building a reputation. Since its first opening in 2006, Olive Grove has been looking for a bit of a R&R paradise for Roman and foreign visitors in the grove-lined fairway.

The resort is located in a prominent location on the coast of Tuscany

Argentario Golf & Wellness Resort – recently added to the name ‘wellness’ element to reflect the diversity of the spa and leisure activities on offer – is located in Monte Argentio, a landlocked country connected by two lakes to the mainland of Tuscany. A narrow bridge. A 90-minute drive from Rome, the resort occupies the floor of a secluded valley that looks like a body’s layer in the James Bond movie as you approach the long and winding entrance. The hotel, cut in the valley side, is said to be like a dragonfly from the air, with 78 bedrooms and suites representing four wings on either side of the body in the lobby area.

When you enter the vast reception area and walk through the main public spaces, the overall design style is probably best described as minimalist glamorous, with high ceilings, acre glass and statement artwork, presented in a monotonous palette of black and white, creating the feeling. That you are in a carefully curated place.

The main lobby of the hotel

The hotel has four storey separate rooms. The first floor rooms offer a minimalist contemporary design with white resin floors. On the second floor, the rooms have hardwood floors and colorful design items that evoke a 1950s feel. On the third floor is the Travel Club Suite, which has dark wood floors, safari-style furniture and freestanding stone baths. Exclusive master and business suite, as well as a wellness suite with private gym, located on the fourth floor. Is that enough floor discussion? I think so. In addition to featuring floors (doh!), All rooms have private balconies and terraces that offer 18-hole golf courses and great views across the valley to the Orbatello Lagoon and beyond to the Tyrrhenian Sea.

A junior suit

If you are visiting with a large family or a group of friends, it is worth considering the resort choice of luxury rental villas located on the hillside overlooking the golf course. The most impressive is the Hills Lodge, which has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a patio. The villas offer the exclusive stay away from the original hotel, yet you still have hotel services with the complimentary use of a golf cart. For those looking for a holiday home, some new villas are currently being built that are for sale for those with deep pockets.

The resort has access to its own private beach, with free shuttle service to take guests on short trips. Alternative water-based activities can be enjoyed in the hotel’s two large swimming pools, one heated and indoors and the other not heated and outdoors, the latter of which I am sure is in high demand during the hot summer months in Italy, but not so much in late March, when I went.

Outdoor swimming pool

The resort’s spacious, 2,700 m² spa includes a fitness center with technozim equipment, bio-sauna with chromotherapy, a nappy circuit, heated indoor swimming pool with saline water, six massage cabins and a tanning shower, where the space wellness center and rest are relaxing. It has many massage and treatment rooms.

Other leisure facilities include two tennis courts, a five-a-side football pitch, and, somewhat inconsistently, a polo field, although I forgot to bring my horse, so it quickly knocked me out of one or two. There are miles of walking and jogging trails around the 80-hectare estate, but if I am going for a walk it will be with just a golf bag. And, fortunately, they also meet this, in the form of 6,218-meter championship courses that enjoy PGA national status.

The Par-5 third hole gives the lagoon a super view

Attaching the letter ‘PGA’ to a golf course – only one authorized in each country – undoubtedly adds a certain cache, but it also implies a level of inconvenience, and this is certainly the case here, as in the par-71 course, which is 6,803 yards from the rear tees. Measures terribly far – and 6,449 yards from the competition’s tees – it’s designed to be the best challenge to watch and play. Let’s just say I’m glad our hosts generously pulled out a sleeve of balls when we set off for the first T, because the medium stock I smuggled into my hand luggage didn’t last long beyond the turn.

The land on which the course was built, formerly used for dumping the island’s rubbish, must have been designed with a little imagination from golf course designer David Mezacan – and the millions of tons of moving earth that lay with golfers today. First opened in 2006, the course is one of the contrasts, with some holes turning up and down in densely forested areas, where cork and oak threaten to block you at every turn, where there are many more open expanses, with wide holes and large ponds. Divided farewells serve to keep you honest.

A view from behind the 14th green, the entrance of which is protected by a large oak tree

I won’t give you a detailed hole-by-hole description, but for me the first highlights included par-5 3rd and par-3 5th, both offering off-sea views. The former is played from a high tee on a crushed fairway to the valley floor below which the snake moves to distant green, while the latter has a green feature that is not protected by less than seven bunkers.

The Par-Five 6th is a cleverly constructed three-shot hole that does not allow you to dismiss only one driver and expect the best, as the two halves of the water intersect the fareway at different points to ensure that you make your way. Carefully towards the green. The 7th was a slightly odd 240-yard par-4 where a lake protects a straight line between T and green and is just a narrow sliver of the fairway to aim to the right. A 5-iron and a wedge would work, but it wasn’t my idea what a decent short four-key would do, because your options outside of T are very limited.

The 8th is the tightest par three in world golf, where a tunnel of a B-width tree just separates the T from the green. The swearing in the trees and the sound of the golf ball echoed throughout the 10 minutes to complete our group task, and I was personally delighted to be able to sign in for a boogie.

par-3 17 has a slight margin for error

After the ship has been anchored around the turn where the course is slightly open, things are further tested in the expansion of the finish, especially on the 17th, a 180-yard par three that features green on the water side and a ‘bail out’ area. Two bunkers on the right feature. My tee shot found one of the traps and put me in the back water towards the pin with a knee-knocking bunker shot. The Closing Hole is another potential card racer, splitting the fairway by a group of trees, while the approach shot is very hard, green short and well protected.

My overall idea was that this is a course that requires multiple plays to realize its subtleties and to learn where to attack and where to defend, but it is also one that requires all the elements of your game to be on point. There will be less penalties than perfect shots, and often harsher penalties, so I’m not so sure if it makes for a fun round of holiday golf, but it certainly has never been dull.

Playing in late March, after what I was told was an unusually dry winter, I was a little disappointed with the condition of the tees and fairways, which were dry in place and the others lacked some grass, but there was nothing wrong with the greens, which presented well, were equally dynamic. And rolled well.

The golf club has its own clubhouse, with a pro shop, driving range, green keeping habits and a bar and restaurant.

On the food front, which for me comes in second place near the golf course when it comes to the demand for a memorable golf trip, the hotel offers two restaurants and a breakfast room. Dama Dama – the scientific name for the fallen deer that can be found roaming freely in the woods around the resort – is a great food option, but sadly it was off during our off-season tour, so I can’t testify to its quality, but the menu. Interestingly, Tagliatel with a focus on fresh seafood and reinterpretations of rural Tuscan classics such as wild boar ragu and rabbit-filled ravioli, while the wine list offers a good choice of red and white colors from local producers. At reasonable prices in South Tuscany. The restaurant runs along a wide terrace outside, which I imagine would be a wonderful place to enjoy a summer evening meal.

Dama Dama is the hotel’s stylish fine dining restaurant

The Clubhouse Restaurant, where we ate all our meals, serves light lunches and dinners with an emphasis on freshly caught fish and shellfish, pasta dishes, steaks and salads. It also overlooks the golf course and boasts a large terrace which was a particularly enjoyable place to relax with the cool glass of Sangioves after a challenging round. I should also add a shout out to the mixologist at the hotel’s upper bar, who certainly knows his way around a cocktail list and has plenty of his own creations on his sleeve.

Away from the resort, there is plenty to see, including Monte Argento, with views extending from the very top to Elba and Corsica, while the beautiful coastal towns of Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercol are also worth a visit. Collection of marinas and seaside restaurants and cafes. And, of course, you can schedule time to spend in Rome on your return trip, visiting some of the world famous sites.

Argentario Golf and Wellness Resort Golf Package
The three-night B&B in the Double Superior Room, with three rounds of golf, starts at € 1,032pp. For more information, visit www.argentarioresort.com, call 00 39 0564 810292 or email [email protected]

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