Golf in Italy: Royal Park I Roveri, Turin
With the Ryder Cup headed there in 2022, Italy is increasingly becoming a destination for sun-seeking golfers.
Even then, Turin might not be top of the list.
Having only enjoyed the riches of Lake Garda and a whistle-stop tour of Milan on my previous visits to Italian soil, my expectations of Turin were somewhat understated.
The city is at the heart of Italy’s so-called ‘industrial triangle’, with Milan and Genoa. And although this brings many preconceptions, they could not be further from the truth.
Rich in culture, tradition and history, with a beautiful landscape in the shadows of the Alps is an ever changing city that is very much on the rise.
It feels almost as if the city itself has completed a full cycle having been named Italy’s first capital city in 1861 housing the House of Savoy.
Having been decimated during the Second World War following the demise of totalitarian leader Benito Mussolini, what now transpires during the trip is that this is a place that looks to the future but very much remembers the past.
The 18th century architecture that dominates much of the city centre in the public squares, castles and gardens along with the Royal Palace give you the feel you’re getting a taste of the real Italian experience.
Although for the normal holiday-goer it may not be as attractive as Rome or Milan, Turin more than holds its own amongst the might of the Italian powerhouses.
After all this is a city built on grit, steel and hard work. As important as it is to take in a bit of culture on these trips, it’s golf I’m here for, so I make my way to Royal Park I Roveri, the host course of the 2017 Italian Open, a tournament it held for four years between 2009 and 2012.
Sitting at the base of the Italian Alps north west of the city and just 30 minutes by car from the centre, the club remains within the boundaries of Turin’s most important conservation area which, dating back to the 16th century, was used as a hunting estate.
The club boasts a host of impressive facilities including a state-of-the-art driving range, gym, swimming pool and two beautiful golf courses – the pick of which is the Trent Jones Senior design, which opened in 1971 and provides a stern test for players of all levels, as expected from a European Tour course.
With the Alps as a backdrop the setting couldn’t be better as the opening stretch tests all parts of your game. Most comparable to a typical British parkland course the fifth hole was a particular highlight.
The par 5, a mere 609 yards from the back tees, mixes both risk and reward to cause the ultimate dilemma for the longer hitter. With a stream running along the front and right hand side of the green and a bunker to the left there are no prizes for heroics here.
Making par or better on this, the second hardest hole on the course, will have you walking to the next tee feeling rather pleased with yourself. It isn’t hard to see why Italy’s favourite golfing sons and Turin natives Francesco and Edoardo Molinari choose to practise here.
The club’s second course, the Pramerica, provides more views of the towering Alps due to having fewer trees.
But this doesn’t mean it’s any less testing, with water and lengthy rough lying in wait to ruin your scorecard should you venture to far off the pristine fairways.
The club itself only opened up to visitors in 2015 and with armed guards at the gate – yes, really – but it’s easy to see why they kept it exclusive for so long.
The current owners have shares in Turin-based Juventus, the country’s most successful football team, and the golf club shares the class and style of its owners other prize investment.
The Turin Palace Hotel in the centre of the city boasts a rooftop bar that provides the opportunity take in the sights and sounds of a city that bursts into life after sundown.
If a taste of the nightlife is what you’re after, a short taxi journey takes you to Vittorio Plaza, a haven of local Italian bars and cafes just a short wedge away or the River Po.
In the daytime, a visit to the Royal Palace must not be missed. Steeped in history you can get lost for hours delving into the realms of Italian tradition and its royal family but perhaps the jewel in the crown are the gardens. Sitting beneath the distant Alps is a sight of marvel.
Imagine every colour you can think of and it will be there – a true feast for the eyes in which you can spend hours getting lost.
Turin also boasts a number of museums from Egyptian mummies to its rich car history, while bespoke chocolate shops like Guido Gobino will leave you feeling guilty, but boy it is worth it.
Put Turin on your list if a spectacular golfing holiday with a touch of class is your order of the day.
Turin has reaped major economic benefits since hosting the winter Olympics in 2006 and it is clear to see its growing popularity – maybe it is time for you to see it with your own eyes too. And with its ease of access from the main UK airports, there really is no excuse.
Staying at Turin Palace Hotel, 3 nights, B&B, 2 rounds of Royal Park I Roveri Golf Club from £335. Also 1 person goes free with group of 8 and above.
Full details here