Why is golf not so successful in Italy? This is the kind of pleasantly puzzling question that can float through one’s mind while enjoying a walk through the green hills of northern Lazio, Tuscany or Umbria or while relaxing on the beach under a clear blue summer sky.
This does not mean that in Italy golf is not played or that there are no good golf courses. Less than an hour’s drive north of Rome Fiumicino Airport, set in beautiful green countryside and a short distance from the sea, the Tarquinia Country Club golf course is a fine example of what Italy has to offer golfers. .
However, the sport does not seem to enjoy the same popularity as in other places such as the British Isles. A quick internet search for golf courses in Italy revealed just 12 courses in the Lazio region, an area with a population of over 5 million. A similar search for courses in Ireland, an area with a similar population, revealed hundreds of courses.
So can this be interpreted as a lack of enthusiasm for sport among Italians? Could it be due to some difference in temperament or the national psyche? Among their many qualities, Italians are not noted for their patience and the several hours it takes to complete a round of golf can be stretching your ability to stroll calmly and leisurely for an extended period of time. Golf is widely regarded as a relaxing sport and so could it be that excitable Italians prefer high-paced sports to those designed for relaxation? Or is it that Italians are already relaxed enough that they don’t need a sport to help them relax?
Some possible explanations could be loosely grouped under a social/economic heading. In countries where golf is established, it tends to be widely used as a means of establishing social and business contacts. Italy is a country with respect for traditions and a longer history of advanced culture than most. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that highly developed social mores, evolved over the centuries, do not give way overnight to modern habits.
Italy is also a fairly densely populated country and given the importance of agriculture there is great pressure on any free land available to produce the substantial amount of olives, grapes and tomatoes required.
It is also worth noting that many of the countries where golf has flourished are highly dependent on tourism. These countries were prepared to invest heavily in courses and other facilities to reap the benefits generated by the additional tourists attracted. Tourism also plays an important role in the Italian economy, however, people planning a vacation to Italy are generally more interested in the unrivaled cultural heritage, architecture and wide range of priceless works of art that are on display in cities from Rome to Florence, Siena and Venice, to name just a few.
In conclusion, it is difficult to identify a single reason why golf is not more popular in Italy, but it is likely that some combination of the above factors has contributed to the slower uptake of golf in Italy than in other countries.
The good news for golf lovers planning to visit Italy for vacation or business is that good courses can be found. For those arriving at any of Rome’s international airports, the course at Tarquinia Country Club offers wonderful panoramic views of the beautiful Maremma region while enjoying the benefits of being close to the coast.