A swing and a prayer: Learning to play golf at a chic Sicilian resort

A swing and a prayer: Learning to play golf is that much easier when staying at this chic Sicilian resort

  • Hotels around the world are now offering golf as one of their premier activities
  • The spectacularly placed Verdura Resort on the Sicilian coast is no different  
  • And this glamorous resort also caters more than capably for all off-course needs

The moment has come to take up a hobby and I’m starting with golf. My children are becoming more independent, so I have more free time than I did before. Even my husband has shown an interest. But where is the best place to tee off? First, it needs to be luxurious and offer more than golf, just in case I end up in a strop, abandoning everything on the first morning. So forget a windswept links course in the British drizzle.

Instead — and with my husband and children all on board — I choose the Verdura Resort in Sicily, where the two 18-hole courses sit adjacent to olive groves overlooking the cyan sea.

It’s not cheap. In fact, it’s a magnet for the Italian jet-set (you may well find the likes of Dolce or Gabbana relaxing in the 60-metre infinity pool), all super-swish, with four restaurants, two pool bars, a range of water sports and 203 rooms, all with sea views.

Two 18-hole golf courses sit adjacent to Verdura Resort on the west coast of Sicily 

I made inquiries about the dress code. Some clubs in the UK require gentlemen to wear long socks with shorts, but at Verdura there are no such restrictions. The resort — owned by Sir Rocco Forte — manages to be both glamorous and unstuffy. So we plump for shorts and polo shirts for the boys and ‘skorts’ and T-shirts for my daughter and me.

Kitted out, we hitch a ride on one of the electric carts which ferry guests around, heading for the driving range, where head coach Tom Foster is waiting. He is clearly used to rubbing shoulders with professionals. But how will he cope with us? First, we begin with the club grip and my thumbs splay into all the wrong places. Standing correctly is more manageable (bottom out, knees bent, arms straight), but that is without the complication of actually hitting the ball.

I take what I think is a perfect swing, swivelling forward and gazing into the distance to track my ball. Has it passed the 50-metre marker? Not quite. It’s still on the tee, untouched.

The resort offers golf lessons for all ages, so the whole family can get involved

The resort offers golf lessons for all ages, so the whole family can get involved 

After moving on to putting, I cheer up with Tom’s news that the top 11 golfers in the world only manage to get 40 per cent of their putts in from about 12ft away. Perhaps I won’t seem so very bad, after all.

In the meantime, my children, Eliza and Arthur, are clearly benefiting from lessons from world-class junior golf coach Giacomo Dovetta, and are soon pulling ahead of me, much to their delight. My husband tells me that at least 124 muscles are used in a golf swing. I swear every one of them aches after day one.

We are finally allowed to put our new skills to the test by actually playing a hole — a par three.

Views of the resort's golf courses on the spectacular coastal setting

Views of the resort’s golf courses on the spectacular coastal setting 

After two shots, my ball ends up about 16ft from the hole and something feels right as I strike my putt firmly. 

We all watch in astonishment as it totters across the green and drops in: I have made par on my first hole!

Surely, there is no justice when a novice like me can achieve such early success? But that’s the thing about golf, it is capricious, fiendish and — as I can now testify — properly addictive.


Easyjet (easyjet.com) London to Palermo from £127 return. Verdura Resort offers doubles from £283 B&B (roccofortehotels.com). Golf packages for children start at £79 for a three-day course. Adults lessons start from £70 an hour. 



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