I have practiced at the game of golf since my youth. That was back in the days of the Mashie Niblick—my dad actually possessed one of those now-extinct clubs. Since that far-away time I’ve mastered quite a bit of the game to the extent that I can, with repeatable accuracy, get the ball to go straight through the clown’s legs and then to bounce off the right patent leather shoe of Snow White to get me within a few inches of the pin on the par 4, 7th hole of my home course. Onlookers are aghast. Usually.
But the course at the Golf Club Castelfalfi was another thing altogether. The minute you climb into the cart and start weaving down the crunchy gravel path you know you are somewhere special. This is the largest club in Tuscany, with 27 holes tucked neatly into the undulating Chianti landscape. The woods come right down to the edge of the course. Blue herons glide overhead. There are olive trees scattered about, not just for show. You can drive your cart right up to the fence of the game preserve and see wild boar. Just on the other side of the fence is an Etruscan tomb. This isn’t Cleveland.
But oh, the golf. It’s hard enough to navigate the course in a golf cart for crying out loud. Even a golf idiot can see that the mountain course at Castelfalfi would be a challenge, even without a paper mache clown trying to waylay your ill-putted ball.
After we had done our surveillance of the course came the unthinkable. Golf Club Director Manola Alberti asked Martha and I if we wanted to play, or at least hit a few balls from the driving range.
Martha committed us to flailing away at some balls on the driving range. Now I was locked into showing off my skill at this silly game.
First, course pro Alessandro Resseguir de Miremont showed us how it was done.
He hit a ball almost to the trees. You could hardly see the path of the thing after the first 250 yards or so. “That was a bad shot,” he said.
Alessandro launched into a critique outlining all the things that that made the ball travel a bit too far to the right and then teed one up and smacked it into the stratosphere, landing dead center, just where you’d put a bullseye if you were going to make an impossible challenge to the man’s skill.
So he took us through all the correct body movements, set a ball upon the tee and told me to hit it.
I did. I shanked it. The ball hit the barrier between my tee-off room and Martha’s. Heads snapped toward the sound of reverberating, tortured wood. The ball dribbled back in my direction.
I had gotten everyone’s attention. Now for my real shot.
And amazingly, it had loft, it had distance…
It went about a third of the way that Alessandro’s ball did. But still.
So we hit the rest of the balls. Zero shanked. I was happy. Alessandro was a great teacher. He spoke wonderful English.
We headed off to the temporary clubhouse for a pleasant lunch and a small beer (as a reward for my not doing any permanent damage to the structure).
After lunch we saw Alessandro out on the driving range. I suspect he thought I had poisoned his swing by exhibiting my unconventional golfing style. Sorry Alessandro….
But really, if you golf and want to go somewhere special, go to Golf Club Castelfalfi. You won’t be disappointed. I guarantee it.
I mean, just look at the place.
Golf Club Castelfalfi
50050 Montaione FI, Italy
Tel: +39 0571 890 200