In 1889 a group of English settlers in Florence set up the Florence Golf Club, the first ever golf association in Italy. The golf course they used, near the Cascine park, was home to the first national Italian golf tournament in 1905. After WWI, the golf course was relocated to near the airport in Osmannoro. At this time, the number of the club’s members grew rapidly. The idea to create a whole new golf course came about at the end of the 1920s and the start of the 1930s and was supported by the Azienda Autonoma del Turismo (the Tourist Agency), who considered golf a big draw for tourism. The Tourist Agency placed signs all over Italy advertising the fact that in Florence there was an 18 hole golf course.
Ugolino Golf Club was founded in 1933 along the Via Chiantigiana and was designed by two English architects called Blandford and Gannon. These same two had designed the course at Monza. The course had a par of 69 but required skill and precision due to the number of hills and obstacles such as trees and small greens. In the 1960s, the course was enlarged to make it a par 72 by an engineer called Pietro Manicinelli. The club house and swimming pool were added by the architect Gherardo Bosio. The club house represents such an excellent example of Rationalist architecture that today it is under the protection of the Belle Arti (the governmental Fine Arts Protection Group).
Ugolino Golf Club is an essential part of the history of Italian golf. Several national golf tournaments have been held here and many national and international golf stars have played here too. The golf club has also hosted the Open Internazionale d’Italia many times. One very memorable Open Internazionale d’Italia tournament was in 1983 when Bernard Langer beat Severiano Ballesteros and Ken Brown. Other famous names who also competed in that particular championship were Greg Norman, Mark James, Costantino Rocca and Baldovino Dassù. To see their scores you would think that this 5676m course was a piece of cake.
What makes this golf course so special is its position in the rolling hills of the Chianti region. The course takes advantage of the natural landscape and is full of swaying cypress trees, olives groves, steep slopes and well protected small greens. These are the obstacles that golfers have to overcome while playing at Golf Club Ugolino and which make this course a challenge for any golfer. The difficulty of the course makes this an ideal training ground for golfers who want to hone their skills.
The first three holes are all par 4 and require delicate play on the greens. From the fourth hole, players are really required to hit the ball hard to reach the green. Hole 6 is the first par 5 and requires a combination of precision and strong hitting to avoid the trees alongside the course. Hole 9 is also a par 5. It has obstacles along both sides of the fairway and a tricky raised green.
The first of the second 9 holes offers a beautiful panorama of the surrounding countryside and a par 3 hole. Holes 11 and 12 are quite long with difficult hits to reach the green.
On the other side of the Via Chiantigiana the technical design of the holes changes as the land is flatter and the holes are spaced further apart.
Hole 15 is one of the trickiest holes on this course as it is difficult to evaluate the distance as the land slopes away steeply to the right and the green is well-covered. The last two holes are very tricky for different reasons. Hole 17 has an old oak tree in the middle slope, while hole 18 is difficult to judge.
This is a golf course which must be approached with attention and skill.