Lunch with a former Ryder Cup star, followed by 18 most surprising and invigorating holes – yes, Bergamo D’Albenza really did knock our socks off.
This is a venue with great ambitions to be the most acclaimed in Italy and from our experience, it might just make it. Bergamo D’Alpenza looks the part – its clubhouse was buzzing, every bay on its range was taken and we warmed up for its Blue and Yellow nines with a knock around its less heralded Red route.
Frankly, it had more than enough to hold the attention with probably the most consistently good greens I have played on so far this year – and we played it in April.
And The Red introduces the key sights and sounds of the course – woodpeckers and cuckoos accompanying the vistas of Bergamo old town in one direction and the Alps in the other.
In my opinion, the Red’s coolest hole was the short fifth, almost entirely in the shade of trees with a green protected by a stream and a wall. I was delighted not to have hit my approach short.
The surprise guest at lunch was Costantino Rocca, remembered for the longest putt never to have won a tournament when he squeezed his way into the Open play-off with John Daly at St. Andrew’s in 1995.
The former Ryder Cup player owns a house overlooking the club and regaled us with tales of the past along with a few sage tips for our respective golf games. And then we embarked on Bergamo D’Alpenza’s main event – the combination of its Blue and Yellow nines – a splendid mix of quirk and class.
There is more variety over these 18 holes than we saw elsewhere on our five days in northern Italy. There are still plenty of trees, the holes seemed to be a little less crowded.
This opened up the views and other neat little features such as a couple of intriguing mountain huts.
There are also plenty of undulations and slopes making it more than a tad tricky to keep the ball on the fairways.
Once again, the greens were admirably fast and true and other details such as the quality of sand in the bunkers were on point. It is rare that I add a review of a course outside of my quest but Bergamo D’Alpenza deserved a special highlight.
This is a venue which I predict will sail up the rankings and is even worthy of a place in the Continental Europe top 100. We loved it so much that we also stayed for a delicious dinner.