Hilly, narrow and quirky, that‘s Italy‘s second oldest golf couse

Apart from skiing in Austria earlier in the year, this trip in May was the first summer-holiday-like we scheduled in 2022. And after all the Corona-mess this really felt like a true holiday again, gladly.

It began with some days in Switzerland, then led us to beautiful Lake Como, where we stayed for a week in beautiful Menaggio, a lovely town on the west side of the lake. It marks the northern end of the so-called Como Riviera and indeed is a great place to stay and enjoy the area.

Close by, there is a golf treasure I had on my list. Menaggio & Cadenabbia Golf Club is the second oldest golf course in Italy and together with Villa d‘Este one of the two clubs in the Como area. Staying in Menaggio, no question I had my clubs with me.

Getting a tee time was easy. First, because there is an app for that, and second, because it seemed nobody else apparently was interested to play on the day I had this penciled in, which was just the next one actually. That caught me by surprise and indeed when I played, I did not see one single other golf player at all — who would have thought.

Getting to the course was easy too, starting off my 8:00 tee time as well. Spoiler alert, the desired lake views over beautiful Lake Como you only get on the parking lot and the first tee. As I missed it there, there was no lake view anymore during the course of the round. That‘s a pity but clearly nothing to hold against the club.

As I didn‘t want to carry, I got myself one of the rental trolleys. They were the worst I had seen for a while and it happened multiple times that my bag tipped over.

That, to be honest, was partly due to the fact that the course itself is really hilly and there are extensive and substantial elevation changes from tee to green or from one side to the other. Once my bag tipped over just walking down the fairway towards the green. That gives you an idea of how hilly it was.

I had trouble with a sore knee that day and really had problems to cope with all the up and down. Latest by the turn I wished to had rented a proper cart instead of just a trolley. Saved me 45€ but broke me eventually, my back-nine score at least. Note to self for the next time…

Generally I would describe the course as quite narrow and one has to be really precise with all sorts of shots. It may have been different decades ago, but with the trees growing and growing over time, there were some passages that were quite tricky to play. And there is another factor which is important to mention in this context. Back in the days when the course and club were inducted and the routing laid out, it was a par-65 course, so rather short and not complying with some unwritten rules.

On multiple holes there is not much distance between the green and the next tee, the terrace or, for instance on hole 10 you have a halfway house/café that is right at the end of the drivingh range and pretty much next to the 10th green. So again, be precise with your approach shots.

With the years going by, the routing was adapted, the course was made longer, but as a result the current par-70 routing is a little quirky. There are ways you have to go that are indeed unusual, there are tee boxes that are obviously put there at a later stage and look out of place, and then you see „old“ tee boxes that are now just flat surfaces without any sense at all.

Especially this creates a feeling for it‘s kind of unfinished or improperly done, while everything of course is well maintained and in great condition. That‘s true for both fairways and greens which all are of immaculate condition.

The tee box for the 18th is behind the 17th green and you need to play across it. Another good example is the 15th tee, which I totally missed. After the 14th you need to cross the 12th fairway to get to no. 15. I crossed the 12 at a wrong place so ended at the 16th and couldn‘t play the 15. Due to the pain in my knee I couldn‘t be bothered to go back, to be honest.

After the round I looked for a room in the club house that has quite some history to it and is well known not only in Italy. I‘m talking about the club‘s famous library, which is said to feature one of the most extensive collections of historical golf publications in the world.

In total there are more than 1,200 publications, even leatherbacks from 1682, printed in Edinburgh. Then other books full of fascination of the sport including Harry Vardon‘s „How to play golf“ from 1912 or „The art of golf“ by Sir W.G. Simpson from 1887.

Would I play Menaggio & Cedenabbia again? Most certainly. Would I travel for the course? No, I wouldn‘t. Would I walk the course again? Nope, cart only.

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