At the end of the 19th century Lake Como was a favoured destination of British "high society", and the area near Menaggio, Tremezzo, Cadenabbia and Bellagio was particularly popular.
In 1907 four English gentlemen led by banker Henry John Mylius founded Menaggio & Cadenabbia golf club. They located a site for the course on the slopes above Menaggio, and with the assistance of J.H.Taylor a nine hole course was built with a decidely English feel to it.
In 1919 a Mr Wyatt, relative of Mylius, became president, and under his guidance the club purchased more land and extended the course to 18 holes, again with the help of Taylor. Then in 1961 the Roncoroni family puchased the golf club from its English owners, and Antonio Roncoroni became President of the club, a job he held until 1992. Roncoroni became a legend of Italian golf as he founded the Italian PGA, and a national junior tournament. He also commissioned John Harris to completely redesign the course in 1965.
Menaggio & Cadenabbia GC has a distinctly English woodlands feel to it, which is hardly surprising given its heritage of English owners, and the redesign by noted English architect John Harris. Yet from different viewing points around the course one cannot forget just where in the world they are- players can catch glimpses of the lakes, and of the Alps. Perhaps it is a contradiction, but I felt that I had stumbled on the quintessential "Italian" course.... The course is short, tight and quirky, with steep inclines, blind shots to greens, and apparently absurdly narrow fairways. The course is also littered with quaint old buildings, and they add to the unique look and feel that is the Menaggio & Cadenabbia golf course.
What Cruden Bay, and Nth Berwick are to Scottish golf, perhaps Menaggio is to Italian golf?
I was in Lake Como for a conference, but made the effort to get to Menaggio because a golfing friend recalled it as being quite a lovely course, with a magnificent restaurant and urged me to go there!
It is nearly an hour from the heart of Como to the course, but the moment we drove onto the property I was entranced. Although the par 70 course only measures 5482 metres from the tips, it is no pushover and requires good decision making, club selection, and some knowledge of the course to score well.
I need to go back again before I can pronounce my favourite holes on the course, but I came away with some vivid memories- how so many of the small green complexes were tucked into groves of trees like fist in glove, and each with delightful bunkering that was both strategic, and visual without being overdone...to this end holes 2, 3 & 4 stood out.
I have memories of a group of 4 locals in front of us laughing merrily as they tried to locate and then play a ball that had landed on the roof of one of the many little buildings throughout the property...
And how on some of the holes we had to walk single file because the fairway was so narrow...well not quite- but you get the idea!
And the big finish! At most courses they reserve the longest most challenging holes for the big finale...
At Menaggio you will find 17 & 18 are two short par 4's measuring 234 metres, and 232 metres respectively from the back markers...
Sounds easy, right?
Hole 17 has a partially blind tee uphill tee shot to a green protected by water in front. And it's a bit of a dogleg, so trees on both sides are very much in play....
It sounds like a certain lay up, but what if you were playing matchplay?
The closing hole is even shorter, again uphill, and again with a slight dogleg. The green is bunkered at the front, but is a small target with clubhouse buildings only metres from the actual green surface.
Again it looked like a perfect hole to lay up, but it is also a real risk/reward hole. And the chances are high that players having a go at the green will from time to time be attempting to retrieve balls from the greenside roof!
To play Menaggio & Cadenabbria GC is to embark on a unique golfing journey. It's fun, and I guarantee you won't be bored!!
It is a Travelling Golfer 'must play'. I can't wait to go back!
The old clubhouse at Menaggio has a lovely old world feel to it. And the restaurant is quality with an authentic local menu. You will enjoy your after golf drinks and meal, so don't hurry away.
And the pride and joy of the club is The Library with it's collection of over 1200 volumes- it is widely considered one of the most prized concentration of golfing publlications in the world
Just 5 minutes down the road from Menaggio, right on the shores of Lake Como you can stay at the wonderful Grand Hotel Tremezzo. This is a classy old world establishment, with beautiful rooms overlooking the lake, and fine dining- but also modern facilities like spa, multiple swimming pools, and bars
And it is just 5 minutes by ferry from the gorgeous Bellagio.
Other Courses in the Area
Lake Como has a number of good courses all close handy- La Pinetina, Monticello, and Carimate included. But the pick of them would have to be Golf Club Villa d'Este.
The Travelling Golfer can tailor a golf trip to Italy to suit your group. For itinerary suggestions please see Destinations
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