When the winning shot of The 2023 Ryder Cup is struck to euphoric cheers and rapturous applause, an eight year journey for Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy will have reached its exciting conclusion.
However, some might argue this is when the real work begins. Ensuring golf’s biggest event leaves a lasting legacy not only on the host venue, but also on the historic city of Rome and Italy as a whole, whose ambitions to grow its reputation as a golf destination need to be realised.
According to a report commissioned by Ryder Cup Europe following the 43rd edition which took place in France in 2018 for the first time, the biennial event delivered a €235 million economic boost to the country, as more than 270,000 people filled Le Golf National to see Europe defeat the United States 17½-10½.
Riccardo Tirotti, Business Development Manager at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, one of European Tour Destinations’ two Italian venues, is confident the country will experience a similar economic uplift following this year’s match:
“Italy is famous for many things, but unfortunately not for its golf, so we are trying to use The 2023 Ryder Cup to show the world that Italy and Rome should indeed be considered as worthy golf destinations.
“We have seen a steady increase in golf tourists from all over the world since Italy was announced as the host destination, with a noticeable rise of visitors from the US, which is increasingly becoming an important market for us.
“Although traditionally, our peak tourist seasons have been during Spring and Autumn, we are able to be year-long destination – and indeed, we are now seeing more people come throughout the year for a visit. This also underlines the need for Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, as well as all the courses in the area, hotels and other institutions to work together to put Rome on the map as a golf destination.”
Attracting more golfers to Italy is a starting point for the legacy, but Riccardo highlights other key elements that also needs building on, much closer to home:
“We are working jointly with the Italian Golf Federation on ways of attracting more young people to the game. We are collaborating with local schools to encourage children to play and also have plans to ensure more women find golf appealing too.
“Furthermore, as with any great sporting event, the onus is on the organisers to leave the host city or country in a better place. For The 2023 Ryder Cup, for example, new roads were constructed and new infrastructure was put in place, both benefitting the local community for many years to come.”
For Italy’s other golf courses, clubs and venues, now is an important time to show what they also have to offer and how, working together, they are able to propose a varied and interesting golf destination.
Donato Di Ponziano, Golf Development Manager at Verdura Resort in Sicily, the second Italian venue part of the European Tour Destinations network, explains how the resort’s position within important golf rankings has been and continues to be a key selling point to attract golfers to the island:
“As former President of the PGAs of Europe, now known as the Confederation of Professional Golf, and former Board Member of Ryder Cup Europe, I am acutely aware of the importance and possibilities the biennial event and its legacy can produce.
“The 2023 Ryder Cup is a great opportunity for Italy, especially to showcase what the country can offer and why it should be considered as one of Europe’s main golf destinations.
“Verdura Resort is Italy’s number one golf resort – a status we’re immensely proud of and one which we have capitalised on greatly this year.
“When we talk about Verdura Resort, we talk about Sicily – its history, culture, cuisine, wine etc. It is all these elements combined that make what golf in Italy is all about.
“So, when the fans come to Italy and descend on Rome to witness the drama of The 44th Ryder Cup unfold, it is important we also entice them with what we have to offer here in Sicily so they make the trip to this special place from the Eternal City.”
Emotionally, Donato adds: “I have always thought of The Ryder Cup as an international ambassador of the game. So when I think of The Ryder Cup in Italy, I have to pinch myself to realise it was once a dream and now it is reality.”