Circolo del Golf di Roma Aquasanta was established in 1903 as a 9 hole course just 3 miles from the Colosseum in south east Rome. It became an 18 hole course in 1913.
The club itself actually dates back to 1885, founded by a group of British expatriates who were passionate golfers, and apparently played on the lawns of some of the Roman villas. The site for the course at Aquasanta was considered particularly suitable for golf as it was centrally located, had 360 degree views, was gently undulating, was blessed with the River Almone flowing through the property, and was nicely treed.
Roma Aquasanta is acknowledged as the oldest course in Italy, and has a rich history dating through the war years to modern times. Right from the beginning the list of members included Roman nobility and it remains today one of the most prestigious clubs in the country. The club has hosted the Italian Open 3 times, the last time being 1980. However, he course is no longer considered long enough to challenge the modern professional game.
Roma Aquasanta sits on a very tight parcel of land and is perhaps best known for it's views over the Via Appia Antica Roman aqueduct.
Great golf courses use the natural terrain to advantage to create a unique golfing environment, and Roma Aquasanta is certainly unique.
Some of the holes that cross the River Almone are very tight and tricky, and it will probably take a few plays for a player to properly understand what is required of him. Nevertheless holes like the par 3 second, and the par 4 seventeenth use the trees, the river, and the the 'burns' to create interesting golf holes.
On the other hand I thought some of the hazards were contrived and detracted from the overall appeal of the course. In particular I thought the swimming pool type pond with it's concrete perimeter in front of the 14th green quite tacky and out of place.
One of the highlights of the course is the many trees that line the fairway and define the look of the property. Cypress & Mediterranean Pines, Elms and Eucalyptus trees dominate. The holes around the old clubhouse in partuicular were framed by these trees and it is no coincidence that I thought them amongst the better holes on the course.
Notable holes include:
- the par 3 second hole featuring an elevated tee shot over the river, and another 'burn', and between the trees!
- the par 4 ninth hole framed by the beautiful pines trees
- the par 3 eleventh hole over the river Almone and some shrubbery to a round green shaped like an upturned saucer
- the pretty dogleg par 4 thirteenth hole
- the amazingly tight downhill par 4 seventeenth hole with an elevated tee near the clubhouse, and double water carry between a narrow gap in the foliage to a relatively small green
Overall I found Aquasanta a charming experience and an insight into Italian Golf from a bygone era.
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