American architect Kyle Phillips, famed for his work at Dundonald and Kingsbarns, is responsible for designing the two courses at the Verdura Resort in Sicily. The game of golf, like every other leisure activity, suffered during the long years of Mafia-related violence that plagued the island, but while some tensions remain, the situation is much improved. English hotelier Rocco Forte built one of his chain of luxury resorts here on a splendid coastal site that has drawn comparisons with Gleneagles and Pebble Beach. Indeed, if you squint you could mistake the setting for Scotland, with the gentler Mediterranean Sea substituting for the windier North Sea. Phillips' approach accordingly was to allow the natural beauty of the surroundings to inform the layout. This tropical development features swimming in an outdoor pool and on a private beach, a spa, and a first-class hotel with more than two hundred rooms.
The undulating East Course provides a truly memorable round of golf. Early highlights include the short par four 3rd and the early water holes at the 5th and 6th, each with stunning outlooks. From the 13th onwards, the course turns seaward, plummeting and swooping across glorious links terrain. The best is saved for last, with the penultimate hole rising gently into the foot of a Sicilian hillside. The 18th is a fabulous par four closer, crashing from an elevated tee along the craggy coastline.