The 27-hole Gardagolf Country Club, in northern Italy, is targeting now UK golfers for the first time after negotiating package rates with a number of nearby ‘partner' hotels. Gardagolf has been, until now, largely the privilege of its 550 members.
Last year the International Golf Travel Market survey shown us that 31% of respondents from Great Britain & Ireland were keen on to play golf in Italy. Swedish and German golfers were much more enthusiastic about Italian golf courses. UK golfers still prefer Spain and Portugal.
The very same survey suggests that we should consider Italy as "new golf destination" (from the top 10 largest golfing nations in Europe; Italy is the 8th) based on the finding that Italy has the lowest golfers-to-courses ratio, meaning there is less competition for tee-times. We should exploit this negative KPI by stating that here you can play golf without hurry. What do you think?
At the same time, local golf tourism organizations and golf courses have to find solution to change the negative perception of their country and region. UK golfers consider Italy as an expensive golf tourism destination. In 2014, 1% of UK golfers visited Italy on a golf break (vs 8% of German golfers, 4% of Swede golfers and 3% French golfers). May be here is the time for "need-based" product development and pricing instead of one size fits all strategy.
Nevertheless we should not neglect how much these foreign golfers are spending. The above mentioned survey found Swedish and German golf tourists are the most valuable golf tourists based on their average spending during a golf holiday: above €1,500.
Gardagolf Country Club was designed by Cotton, Pennink, Steel & Partners. The golf course opened in 1986 and has twice hosted the Italian Open, in 1997 and 2003. Today Gardagolf Country Club has one 18-hole golf course, three 9-hole courses, a 3-hole executive golf course and driving range.
The region's mild climate ensures it is an ideal destination for year-round golf, and its location ensures there are plenty of extra-curricular activities and glorious vistas to be enjoyed once the golf – and the post-match vino – is completed.
If I were you I would also visit Arzaga Golf Club's two golf courses (designed by Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player) that is quite close to Gardagolf Country Club.