The dream was to create Europe’s finest golf destination. The vision was that of hotelier Sir Rocco Forte, a passionate golfer who apparently scoured the Mediterranean coastline in search of the perfect site upon which to build a luxury resort for a discerning, high-end golf market. Remarkably, given its location, reputation and lack of golf amenities, his quest brought him to the south-west shores of Sicily, an Italian island better known for its links to organized crime than any propensity to organized recreation like golf.
Forte’s initial problem was that his chosen site was comprised of more than 70 individual parcels of land. Unperturbed, he acquired the necessary space (570 acres) to build his great sprawling dream and appointed Kyle Phillips to create a golf-centred Masterplan that would include two full layouts and a nine-hole par three course along with a superb 5-star hotel, conference centre, beach club, restaurants and Europe’s largest spa. There will also be a small residential subdivision here, but pleasingly the home sites are well removed from the golf.
Indeed, it’s the golf holes at Verdura that will put this resort on the international map and Sir Rocco rightly allowed Phillips to pick and choose the best parts of the property for his two main courses. Despite both tracks being built to the same standard, and occupying similar ground, the East and West courses provide alternate journeys for golfers to enjoy. Both start beside an internal practice range, the West has a more out-and-back arrangement with a long stretch of consecutive holes on the front nine but a stirring four-hole seaside finale. The East, by contrast, enjoys a two-loop routing that changes direction more frequently, its 18th hole is played right alongside the cliffs but the rest of the closing stretch is set on higher, tumbling ground.