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Author: Jeroen Korving

Ryder Cup 2023: Marco Simone Insights and Insider Tips

18 September 2023
9 min. read
Jeroen Korving
In 2023, something exciting is happening in Italy near Rome. Marco Simone, designed by Jim Fazio and David Mezzacane in the late 1980s and later redesigned by Dave Sampson, will be hosting the Ryder Cup, one of the biggest golf events in the world. The Ryder Cup is not just a golf tournament; it's a thrilling competition where the best golfers from Europe and the United States face off. Join us as we explore what makes Marco Simone and the Ryder Cup so special and we'll also give you some great tips to make your visit unforgettable. Get ready for an memorable golfing experience!
The redesigned golf course at Marco Simone carried out by Dave Sampson from European Golf Design

The Ryder Cup in 2023

On 14th December 2015, Italy was awarded the right to host the 44th edition of the Ryder Cup in 2022. However, the 43rd Ryder Cup, scheduled for September 2020 at Whistling Straits (Wisconsin) was rescheduled for September 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this decision all subsequent Ryder Cups after Whistling Straits have shifted to odd years. This meant that the Ryder Cup in Italy will be held from September 25th to October 1st in 2023. 

Italy had quite some competition and finally beat off Austria, Germany and Spain in the bidding process and will stage the Ryder Cup for the first time. Spain, which hosted the 1997 tournament at Valderrama, and Germany, which had not yet hosted a Ryder Cup, were seen as the top choices. For Spain, Camiral Golf & Wellness (fka PGA Catalunya) was the obvious candidate and Golf Club Bad Saarow (fka Sporting Club Berlin) was the German candidate. However, Italy's commitment to elevate the Italian Open into a €7 million tournament for 11 years starting in 2017 played a crucial role in the final decision.

Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, situated a mere 17km from the vibrant heart of Rome, will mark Italy as the seventh country to host the prestigious Ryder Cup. Italy will join the ranks of England, Scotland, Spain, Ireland, Wales, and France as the host nation for this renowned golfing event.

Redesigning Marco Simone Golf & Country Club

Although Rome was an obvious choice to be the host city, there wasn't a real strong and suitable golf course available. Eventually Marco Simone got the 'go' but the course definitely needed some changes to be ready for this huge event. Marco Simone was built in the late 1980s under the ownership of the fashion designer Laura Biagiotti and her husband Gianni Cigna, when 150 hectares of rolling Roman countryside was transformed into a prestigious golf course. It opened for play in 1991 and quickly after that hosted the Italian Open in 1994, but the Italian Open never returned. Marco Simone simply wasn’t regarded as one of the country’s top courses.

So, to provide a challenging and interesting layout for the players and to host at least 250.000 spectators something needed to change. Marco Simone’s hillside nature definitely helped to create natural viewing areas and this was only accentuated by Dave Sampson, who was awarded the task to redesign Marco Simone.

Grandstands are being built at the 18th hole at Marco Simone (photo credits: member Flopic7)

Right now, almost nothing remains of the original golf course at Marco Simone. Only the sixth hole plays in the same corridor. Every other hole has a totally different location and even orientation. Sampson explains: “One of the issues with the old layout was that, from a spectator and player point of view, there were a lot of crossing holes, with links between greens and tees crossing numerous times. For a Ryder Cup this becomes really difficult. So, one of the big changes was rerouting the course to consider spectator movement, grandstands and hospitality.

During the redesign also a lot of trees were removed. The trees and bushes had become overgrown, obscuring the site's once magnificent views. They have been cleared away to unveil those beautiful vistas for both golfers and spectators to enjoy. You will now be able to see the 1,000 year-old tower of Marco Simone’s castle from multiple locations on the course and you can even see St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican in Rome on a bright day. 

What's the best spot to watch the Ryder Cup in 2023?

We've been to a couple of Ryder Cups in the past, and it's probably best to pick a good spot and stay there, at least for the first few days. The top tip for the final day is not to head straight for the 18th green, but to carefully keep track of the final score and to stay close to the 15th, 16th and 17th hole. 

Below an overview is provided from 2014 and onward on which hole the Ryder Cup was officially decided:

  • Gleneagles in 2014: 15th hole (Jamie Donaldson hit his wedge a foot from the pin at the 15th)
  • Hazeltine National in 2016: 18th hole (Ryan Moore wins the final point for the USA)
  • Le Golf National in 2018: 16th hole (Francesco Molinari wins for Europe as Phil Mickelson hits the water)
  • Whistling Straits in 2021: 17th hole (Collin Morikawa sank a short birdie putt on the par-3 17th hole)

Video: See Collin Morikawa hit his tee shot on the 17th hole at Whistling Straits. 

Marco Simone has a natural basin which enables you to watch the first hole, the downhill par-three seventh, the driveable par-four sixteenth and the par-three seventeenth. So, if you want the perfect spot to watch a few holes and see the Ryder Cup unfold, then this would be the place to head to. Find yourself a good vantage point, sit back and enjoy the show! 

Is Marco Simone in favor of Team Europe?

According to a few people who visited Marco Simone recently, it is apparent that the course was prepared in such a way to favor the European team. Fairways have been made tighter - as the Americans have more distance - and the rough is very penal. This is all done to make the Americans think twice about taking their driver out. The Americans are also quite good within 135 meters (or 150 yards) to the green, so it might benefit the Europeans if the Americans have to play a bit more conservative. 

The course does reward players who will take a risk and there are two driveable par 4's (hole 11 and 16), so this will hopefully be perfect for the foursomes. Let's also hope that most of the singles will extend deep into the round, as that's where the most exciting holes await. The final holes promise to be truly epic. The 15th hole is a demanding par-4, followed by the 16th which is driveable from the tee. However, the green is well-protected by bunkers, a creek dissects the fairway and there is also a little pond right of the green. A carry of at least 275 meter (300 yards) is needed to stay out of trouble. The 17th is a tough par three with a very narrow green with three plateaus. Missing the green on the right will leave your ball in the killing rough. Missing it on the left and your ball will drop into the collection area and will give you a tough shot to the green. The 18th hole is a long par 5 with many options. The downhill drive will invite players to play aggressively. But if their shot is not on the fairway, the second shot will be extremely difficult with water lurking on the left and bunkers and high rough on the right. 

Check out the last holes of Marco Simone in this video made by our friends at No Laying Up! We can't tell you how much we are looking forward to some intense drama on this course and let's hope history is made here!

Playing Marco Simone Golf & Country Club

Obviously with the Ryder Cup coming up it is not possible to play the course anymore in September 2023. The first available tee times can be booked from 4th of October 2023 onwards. So, if you want to feel like a pro and play this golf course in Ryder Cup conditions, then this is your chance. Playing Marco Simone is not cheap, but it will be a once in a lifetime experience. 

If you decide to play Marco Simone fairly quick after the Ryder Cup, then bring enough balls. Many reviewers have indicated that the course is very tough to play as the fairways are quite narrow now and the rough is killing. 

Playing other interesting golf courses near Marco Simone

If you are visiting the Ryder Cup 2023, then it might be an idea visiting some nearby golf courses. Based on the reviews of other golfers, we can recommend the following golf courses in and around Rome. 

Find all golf courses surrounding Marco Simone with the map view and the filters (credits: Leading Courses)

Olgiata Golf Club

Although Olgiata has limited availability due to high demand due to the Ryder Cup, there are still some tee times left. Olgiata GC can be booked online on Leading Courses. The calendar on our site shows all the available tee times, so this is a real-time overview of all tee times that can be booked. Make sure to book your spot, while you can!

Castelgandolfo Golf Club

This Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed course has 3 lakes and almost a 100 bunkers, so bring your sand wedge and enough balls when visiting this club. Unfortunately the club is not bookable or reservable via our site. 

Circolo del Golf di Roma Acquasanta

Unfortunately this golf course cannot be booked online (yet). If you want to play here, you can reserve a tee time via Leading Courses. Our team will then contact the course to find a suitable spot for you (if any). If we can't book a tee time, we will refund the paid service charge. 

Archi Di Claudio Golf Club

This 9-hole course might not be the best, but it is a fun course and it has an ancient Roman aqueduct running along its course. So,  definitely worth a visit especially if you want to make some stunning pictures for Instagram ;-). To schedule tee times during the Ryder Cup from September 23 to October 1, it is necessary to directly contact the golf course.

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