Golf Course Architecture - Issue 66, October 2021

67 “The restrictions squeezed us in a way, but what it will create for the Ryder Cup is an unbelievable atmosphere in and around the twelfth green, thirteenth hole, fifteenth green and the sixteenth tee. It is going to be incredible when thousands of spectators are gathered there. The restrictions made us look at things in a different way and you’ve got to make the most of it. When I look back, I really think that something good has come out of it.” While creating a course to host the Ryder Cup has been the main focus of the redesign, Sampson has ensured the layout is also playable for the membership at Marco Simone. The club reopened 18 holes to its members in January 2021, and according to golf course superintendent Lara Arias, the course has remained busy ever since. “This is a golf course that gives golfers of all abilities options,” says Sampson. “Generally, it is much wider off the tee for the average golfer and narrows down the further off the tee you go. “The layout isn’t overly long, it’s 7,300 yards from the back tees and 5,700 from the front, with the main defence being in and around the greens. “One of the encouraging things that we saw from the recent Italian Open was that the course also plays really well as a stroke play event.” Some minor tweaks the club was considering will go ahead following the course’s tour debut, such as expanding mowing lines closer to lake edges. By the time the Ryder Cup arrives in 2023, some other important projects will be complete, including the clubhouse renovation, a new driving range and the transformation of the nine-hole resort course into the spectator village. Marco Simone will have also hosted two more Italian Opens, giving the Marco Simone team additional valuable experience before it hits the world stage in September 2023. GCA MARCO S IMONE GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB A view of the sixteenth green from where a hospitality stand will be located Photo: GCA Perfection is expected of the playing surfaces at a Ryder Cup, so Marco Simone selected turfgrasses from Pure Seed and Atlas Turf International for the redesign project. Pure Dynasty was chosen for the tees, fairways, approaches, collars and driving range tees. This seeded paspalum turfgrass offers rapid growth and quick recovery, which is well suited for the challenging Italian summers. Its texture also complements that of the cool season grasses planted on the rest of the course. A blend of Pure Seed tall and fine fescues was selected for the rough while Pure Distinction creeping bentgrass was selected for greens. Former European Tour player Jay Townsend, working as a commentator for Sky Sports during the Italian Open, said: “The greens are as good as any putting surfaces I have ever seen. If you hit a good putt, it is going in. There are no imperfections out there.” Providing tournament conditions