Between Florence and Pisa, the Montecatini Terme Golf Course is heading towards its 40th anniversary under the Tuscan sun. On a hilly terrain, between cypresses, olive trees, fruit trees and flowerbeds, the course undulates, facing the Villa Galeotti, a historic club-house with a dozen rooms.
By Claude Granveaud-Vallat
Marco Croze, a disciple of the Englishman John Harris in his early days, had already gained some experience of the “hole grass” when he worked on the Montecatini Terme golf course project in the mid-1980s. The Tuscan hills were part of the set-up, as well as the vegetation already well established between the cypresses, the fruit trees – lemon trees, mulberry trees, cherry trees – and over 2000 olive trees scattered over the hundred hectares of the estate.
As its name suggests, Montecatini Terme is a town of water that flourished in the 19th century, when the composer Giuseppe Verdi used to spend his summer in this town with its renowned gentle lifestyle. The list would be long to enumerate all those who, later on, also praised the benefits of Montecatini’s waters. Faced with this tourist and curative interest, it was only logical that the town should have a golf course, and this was done in 1985.
On the way to the small village of Pievacca, the road climbs towards Mount Vettolini while the fairways border it. Without even waiting to tee off, one quickly gets an idea of the topography, the setting is physical, even sporting! The hills and valleys have given volume to the design, also creating magnificent views of the surrounding Tuscan peaks. From the terrace of the Villa Galeotti, the club-house whose oldest stones date back to the 10th century, the view goes as far as the Gulf of Baratti, near Livorno, and the mountains of the Amiata, lands made famous by its most illustrious child, the young Leonardo da Vinci who, still in his shorts, was already imagining his future inventions in this fairy-tale setting, with its enchanting scents and sublime lights…
As Giorgio Merletti, the club’s pro, says very well, “there’s no need to dwell on the lakes, which are in play on only three holes – including the 18th -, the main difficulties here come from the steep slopes and the fairly small greens…”. If we add to this pertinent comment a few doglegs, out of bounds and trees that come in the way of a few unsuitable ball trajectories, par is getting farther away… But the main pleasure is in the memory that a course leaves, more than in the success of a drive or a putt. Here, one is spoiled by the scents of the plants, the rays of light cutting through the morning mists, the cottony tones of a setting summer sun, visual memories that remain engraved in the player’s mind long after the last putt.
These images can be seen from the terrace of the clubhouse overlooking the valley, where it is pleasant to relax for a drink, a meal or a stay, since 9 rooms can accommodate players. At the “Rosmarino Selvatico” (wild rosemary) table, behind a kitchen highlighting Tuscan dishes with talent and flavour, you should not miss the emblematic local dessert, the “cialde di Montecatini”, fine waffles filled with almond cream and fruit… A great way to end a day of golf with some welcome calories, waiting for the next round!
Montecatini Terme Golf
Via dei Brogi, 1652
51015 – Monsummano Terme (PT)
Tél. : +39 057 262 218.
18 T, par 72, 5667 m., Marco Croze (1985).