ROME – Name another golf community that shares its heritage with the Etruscans or was once a battlefield for medieval noblemen whose families have a Who & # 39; s Who from popes produced. But wait, it's getting better.
The Olgiata, as this maze of forests is called, has been invaded by barbarians. It was traded between families, auctioned and given as a wedding gift.
Once flax was abundant here, just like barley and oats. Olgiata was home to the immortal racehorses Nearco and Ribot in the 20th century.
Three thousand years of history buys a lot of character.
His newest incarnation? Olgiata is not only the home of a world-famous golf course, but it has also introduced a modern twist to one of the oldest of the ancient world countries: it is one of the rare gated communities of Italy, an oasis of vast villas where gardeners toiled and the rich work under the surveillance of security cameras & guards.
In a country that cherishes its rich history, celebrates its culinary gifts and thrives on personal (and often kinetic) interaction, golfing and isolated luxury life are slowly getting on.
Domestic duffers and real estate investors hope that this will change.
In October, the Olgiata Golf Club organizes the 76th Italian Open, a tournament that is growing in prize money – $ 7 million – and interest in the European Tour.
"We have the best player lounge on the professional tour," said Barbara Zonchello, director of the tournament's organizing committee. "We are known for the food and hospitality available to the players."
This time, however, the organizers are trying to show that they offer more than a charming stop for professional golfers.
The stakes are high because Italy is preparing to organize the Ryder Cup for the first time in 2022 on another course in Rome – Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.
Italy was an unconventional – if not risky – choice to host the prestigious biennial competition between the United States and Europe.
Golf is so sacred in Ireland and Great Britain that people drive three hours to a lane for nothing and brave rain and wind for just about every professional
Spain and Germany are also much more mature golf infrastructures and dedicated participant base and have produced champions such as Seve Ballesteros and Bernhard Langer.
"The feeling of golf in Italy is changing," sa id Franco Chimenti, president of the Italian Golf Federation.
“More people are approaching this sport and are leaving behind all prejudices that have stopped growth in the past. We are constantly working to make golf accessible to everyone: children, women and the disabled.
The rise of Francesco Molinari as one of the most talented and recognizable golfers in the world has helped. The Turin won the British Open last year and became the first Italian to ever lift the Claret Jug.
He was also an important member of Europe & # 39; s victorious 2018 Ryder Cup team, just like last year's Thorbjorn, the Italian Open champion. Oleson and the winner of 2017, Tyrrell Hatton.
In the Ryder Cup, organizers see an opportunity to prove to the world that Italy is a worthy host, and to spread the gospel of golf to homegrown weekend golfers and international tourists.
"It is the most important golf event in the country and the highlight of our way to the Ryder Cup," said the director, Gian Paolo Montali.
"It is important for our golf tourism."
Olgiata, this serene piece of land, 15 miles north of Rome, is perhaps the perfect window for this mission.
Behind hedges of 12 feet high, swimming pools reflect tile roof estates back on large and lush l ots.
There is a tennis and country club and, in a nod to its recent past, a riding school with rows of stables , show and jump rings and a network of bridleways.
It has been a popular enclave for the international set and embassy staff, managers and a handful of footballers and actors in Lazio have found comfort in estates ranging from 1.5 million to 8 million euros, or $ 1.6 million to $ 8.8 million.
There are spring waters in the neighborhood; spas & # 39; s and Pilates instructors seem to be the number of trattorias & # 39; s and to surpass taverns.
Conservation regulations have kept the landscape lush and provided a home to more than 30 different species of birds.
"It's a place for people looking for a healthy, active lifestyle," said Stella Carnacina, CEO of Carnacina Immobiliare, a real estate company specializing in the area. "But they also want space and security and a sense of being in the country, but close enough to Rome."
But the Olgiata Golf Club, which was opened in 1961, is the jewel in this prosperous community formed by rolling forests near where Veio, the richest city of the Etruscans, once stood.
For 300 years, it alternated between war and peace with Rome before it was finally flooded in 396 BC. Two of & # 39; the world's most important orbit designers have plotted a challenging, long course (7566 meters), with towering trees and umbrella pines and small creeks through it.
Because history plays a crucial role in the perspectives of Italians, as well as golf enthusiasts, it is worth noting that the original designer of Olgiata was an Englishman named CK Cotton who, according to golf historian Geoffrey S. Cornish, descends from Douglas' design tree Rolland, a Scot whose work in the late 19th century is considered one of the most influential in sports.
In 2010, American course designer Jim Fazio, whose uncle George Fazio is also considered a modern master, gave it a makeover that cost more than € 1 million as part of the Rome bid that it has finally given up to organize the 2020 Olympic Games.
Olgiata is the only Italian entry on the Golf Digest list with the 100 best golf courses in the world. Yet Italy is hardly a toddler in the golf world.
In 1968 the golf writer Dan Jenkins came to Olgiata for Sports Illustrated to take the beat of the sport.
Then, Olgiata Golf Club hosted the World Cup of Golf, an annual competition in which two-man teams represent individual countries.
He was struck by an Italian fan who paid & # 39; $ 4.50 for a ticket and thinks it gives him the right to stroll across the greens and chat with the players. "
He walked the fairways with" Italian princes, socialites, movie stars, embassy staff and Via Veneto strollers "who stared at professionals like Gary Player, Julius Boros and Lee Trevino, and" saw them think about what's so difficult is the game. "
" All you have to do is grab a bunch of sticks and roam the trees, "wrote Mr. Jenkins.
Fifty-one years later, Italy now has 398 golf courses.
The Ry der Cup will take place in the city at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, which was built in the late 1980s by fashion designer Laura Biagiotti.
telegenic location, overlooking the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. But the birthplace of golf in the Eternal City remains in Olgiata.
"It is the most Italian golf course and founded in our history, "said Mrs. Zonchello, the Italian se Open Director. "It is a course that Italian golf grew up on."