Private and public golf courses in Italy: how many are there and how do they work?

Last week IGolfItaly posed some questions on different social media: “What would you like to know about #golf in #Italy ? Customs, travel, courses, tips…? Let us know in the comments and we’ll write a blog post about it!”

Ricky Potts, Digital Communications Manager for Troon Golf, asked us some interesting questions on the GOLF Google+ Community: “How many courses are in Italy? How many of those courses are private? What is the average initiation fee for a private facility in Italy?”. Thank you for the input Ricky! This blog post will provide the answers, in the hope of informing foreign golfers on how Italian golf courses work.

As of June 2014, there are 224 golf courses in Italy, divided as follows:
18 holes                            103
18 holes + 9 executive    8
27 holes                            16
27 holes + 9 executive    2
36 holes                            7
9 holes                              87
9 holes + 9 executive    1

There are also more than 150 driving ranges, which means that there almost 400 facilities where golf can be enjoyed all across Italy. Most of them are located in the north, in the regions of Piedmont, Veneto and Lombardy. Central Italy follows with Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and Lazio. For more on the different regions, have a look at our Mini Guide series on golfing in the North, in the Center, in the South and in Italy’s Islands.

The concept of private golf course in Italy is quite different from the one in the United States.

There is only one golf course that is private in the sense that membership is by invitation only: Tuscany’s Castiglion del Bosco owned by Massimo Ferragamo (yes, from the luxury fashion brand). It is a 4,200-acre country estate with a golf course designed by British Open winner Tom Weiskopf. If you are a traveling golfer with a healthy budget, the estate offers accommodation (suites and villas) with prices varying from 400 euro to 1500+ euro per night, depending on the season. That will give you access to a round of golf on the course which is otherwise only available to invited members.

Then there are semi-private golf courses, like the Olgiata and Acquasanta in Rome, where the membership makes you part-owner of the golf clubs. Shares can be bought on the market at variable quotations, followed by an annual membership fee around 2000 euro for Acquasanta and 3050 euro for Olgiata. However, these clubs also sell green fees, so access is open to any golfer.

Most golf courses in Italy are public: they simply charge annual memberships and green fees, allowing all golfers to play. In order to be able to play in their country, all Italian golfers must register with the national golf federation (annual fee of 75 euro). The mark of 100.000 registered golfers has been surpassed just recently: this number shows that the Italian golf market is not that big as to allow for a dynamic reality with private and public facilities like in the USA.

Have you ever played golf in Italy? What was your golfing experience like? Share comments and any other questions below!

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