Thirty years that golfers have been enjoying this idyllic setting, between mountain, forest and calm water views on the Golf des Îles Borromées. A sporty, varied and technical course that deserves to be played on foot to better experience it and try to master it. A club overflowing with charm, far from the modern standards of a stereotyped game…
By Claude Granveaud-Vallat
Even though the border is not far away, this French name can be surprising, overlooking Stresa and Lake Maggiore. Before the course was built in 1992, the old hotel of the Borromean Islands was located on these heights, so it was only natural that the golf course should retain its “French” name.
At an altitude of 500 metres, we can’t wait to enjoy the majesty of the lakes, in a very wooded setting. But Marco Croze’s drawing knows how to make us languish, as if the reward was deserved. The first holes dive and come back between the trees without letting the water of the lake be seen. We have to wait for the green of the 5th to reach – via a small path – a viewpoint, close to a chapel, dominating the southern side of the lake. However, there is no way of seeing the Borromean islands, as the mountain hides them from view.
Between the fir trees, the oaks, the birches, the larches, the chestnut trees, a few brooks, as many pieces of water, the long layout – the architect had to adapt to the topography – is not easy. With narrow, undulating fairways, tight layouts, perched approaches, the range is complete in the heart of this mountain vegetation. It is difficult to master all these particularities from the first round, but the charm of the place makes you want to come back, to try your luck again, to try to tame this layout where the birdies often remain perched in the trees… From the start of the 7th and the 10th, the valley seems to be at our feet, a slightly megalomaniac feeling at a time when we have to tighten up our game on the return. But there is no question of being overconfident, the ferny rough and the slopes quickly remind us of our senses, while the eagles circle over the greens, the squirrels jump from branch to branch, and the traces of wild boar suggest their nocturnal visit. The Borromeo family motto was Humilitas! On the waters of the lake as well as on the greens of the golf course, this motto has remained true wherever the mountain is the strongest, especially when the storm is roaring in the valley.
Once the last putts have been hit, one might regret that the terrace of the club-house does not overlook the lake and its breathtaking views, nature is not always tame… Here, she often has the last word!
A good reason to go down to the lake after the game. A small winding road offers a panorama that widens at every turn, revealing Stresa, a tourist resort that has been popular since the mid-19th century, when exuberant villas sprang up like mushrooms on the shores of the lake, competing in elegance. Since then, between the Art Nouveau facades of the star hotels and the palace of the Borromean Islands, time seems to have stood still. The air is filled with a feeling of serenity, while the seagulls seek out the updrafts to glide along with the least effort. In his time, Ernest Hemingway had his habits in this privileged setting. In the bar of the Grand Hotel, of course, but also on the small fishermen’s boats that today link the islands for the pleasure of tourists. A stopover on Isola Bella is a must to marvel at the beauty of the Borromeo Palace, a baroque castle built in the 17th century in honour of Countess Isabella Borromeo. It offers sumptuous scenery both inside and in its terraced gardens, descending to the lake among cypresses, olive trees and flowerbeds in bloom all year round. During the Italian campaign, between two battles, Napoleon liked to come and rest in this idyllic setting… We can understand him!
Golf des Îles Borromées
28833 – Brovello Carpugnino (VB)
Tél. : +39 0323 92 92 85.