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The Verdura Golf & Spa Resort in Siciliy

Spending time in the warm Mediterranean waters of Sicily might normally be enough to result in a tourist’s jaw to drop… but the Verdura Golf and Spa Resort could very well leave visitors too lightheaded to even speak.

A luxurious getaway is what awaits those traveling to this island escape. Located near the town of Sciacca, miles away from the historic city of Agrigento and its Valley of the Temples, and an hour from the International Airport in Palermo, Verdura occupies a land unto itself, complete with all of the splendor Sicily
has to offer.

Verdura Golf and Spa Resort is the 13th property in the Rocco Forte Collection in which Sir Rocco has truly outdone himself Forte has designed hotels all over Europe, such as Hotel Savoy in Firenze, and The Lowry Hotel in Manchester, but number 13 has proven to be a very lucky one for its guests. Verdura offers 203 ocean view rooms and suites with private terraces overlooking 1.2 miles of private coastline, as well as six tennis courts, a 43,000 square foot spa, fitness and yoga center, four extravagant restaurants, a private beach, 55 private villas and two championship golf courses which are a “must play” for any golfer.
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KYLE PHILLIPS: Retaining his links with Abu Dhabi

Ever since it opened for play earlier this year, the Yas Links Abu Dhabi has been bestowed by superlatives.

From “stunning” to a “desert miracle” to “the best golf course in the Middle East”, accolades have poured in thick and fast for this Kyle Phillips design.

Sport 360°’s deputy editor Joy Chakravarty caught up with the celebrated designer, and talks to him on Yas Links, and various aspects of his business and philosophy.

Kyle, almost one year now since the Yas Links opened. The reception among members and players has been fantastic. What are your thoughts now?

That’s right. We had the front nine ready last year and the back nine was completed this year in March. I don’t think you can notice the difference between the conditions now.

Mike (Course Superintendent Michael Clark) has done a great job in integrating the two nines. And as I hear the feedback from the members, I am very proud of what we have created here.

Yas Links is something unique, certainly in a place like the UAE.
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Yas: The Gulf’s Best Course?

GCA visited Yas Links, Kyle Phllips’s recently opened course in Abu Dhabi today, and found what must surely be considered the Middle East’s best golf course.

Located right next to Abu Dhabi’s new Formula 1 racing circuit, on the enormous Yas Island development being created by the state-owned company Aldar, Phillips’s course breaks the Gulf mode. It’s a total core golf experience: there is no real estate on the interior of the course, and, rather than the waterfront space being saved for property, there are golf holes all the way down the 3km coastline.

In fact, Phillips did more that just design the course – he designed the coast as well! Yas’s waterfront is built up using fill dredged from the sea, and part of Phillips’s task was arranging for that fill to be placed in such a way as to enable him to create exciting waterfront holes – which he has certainly done, with the par three thirteenth and seventeenth both being among the most photogenic golfers will see anywhere in the world. Phillips’s staff shaper Dave Smith has done a wonderful job in replicating the contours of a true links course; the challenge will be for greenkeeper Mike Clarke to get the Platinum paspalum grass, supplied by Jennings Turf International running quickly enough to make the contours stand out.

Adam Lawrence
Golf Course Architecture
15 September 2010

Verdura Golf & Spa Resort

The dream was to create Europe’s finest golf destination. The vision was that of hotelier Sir Rocco Forte, a passionate golfer who apparently scoured the Mediterranean coastline in search of the perfect site upon which to build a luxury resort for a discerning, high-end golf market. Remarkably, given its location, reputation and lack of golf amenities, his quest brought him to the south-west shores of Sicily, an Italian island better known for its links to organized crime than any propensity to organized recreation like golf.

Forte’s initial problem was that his chosen site was comprised of more than 70 individual parcels of land. Unperturbed, he acquired the necessary space (570 acres) to build his great sprawling dream and appointed Kyle Phillips to create a golf-centred Masterplan that would include two full layouts and a nine-hole par three course along with a superb 5-star hotel, conference centre, beach club, restaurants and Europe’s largest spa. There will also be a small residential subdivision here, but pleasingly the home sites are well removed from the golf.

Indeed, it’s the golf holes at Verdura that will put this resort on the international map and Sir Rocco rightly allowed Phillips to pick and choose the best parts of the property for his two main courses. Despite both tracks being built to the same standard, and occupying similar ground, the East and West courses provide alternate journeys for golfers to enjoy. Both start beside an internal practice range, the West has a more out-and-back arrangement with a long stretch of consecutive holes on the front nine but a stirring four-hole seaside finale. The East, by contrast, enjoys a two-loop routing that changes direction more frequently, its 18th hole is played right alongside the cliffs but the rest of the closing stretch is set on higher, tumbling ground.
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Picturesque Kingsbarns looks the part come rain or shine

Kingsbarns Golf Links in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland was once voted 17th in a list of top golf courses outside the USA.

I’d like to see the 16 that beat it. Because from first tee to final green it is quite simply the most beautifully, stunning golf course it has been my privilege to set eyes, feet and clubs upon.

The warm summer sunshine and near cloudless skies which enveloped our round undoubtedly helped lift the spirits and perhaps the recollection of its burning rays do cradle the magical memories that now linger long.

But even allowing for that stroke of climatic good luck, there is no doubt that Kingsbarns offers one of the greatest golfing experiences you will find on this planet, let alone in this country – including the USA.

And whatever the weather.

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New 5-star resort Verdura offers great golf in Sicily

When you think of Sicily, golf probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but it is, in fact, home to one of Europe’s premier golf resorts, the new Verdura Golf & Spa Resort.

Located on Sicily’s southwest coast, the Italian resort has 45 holes of golf, all designed by golf course architect Kyle Phillips, whose credits also include Kingsbarns Links near St. Andrews, Scotland.

The resort sits on a 570-acre seaside site and features a world-class spa, five-star hotel, two 18-hole courses and a nine-hole par-3 course.

“It’s a unique low-density concept for a coastline property, with only electric vehicles allowed inside the resort. Golf purists will absolutely love it,” Phillips said.

“Near the seashore, I tried to give the golf a links-land feel with a rougher seaside look, transitioning to large rolling Muirfield-like landforms as it moves back away from the sea,” he added

Verdura’s East Course is 7,221 yards, and the West Course measures 7,474 yards from the championship tees. Phillips routed holes so that a Composite Championship Course could be formed to present a challenging venue for a future professional tournament.

The Championship Course would feature all of Verdura’s ocean holes and could play as long as 7,468 yards.

The Accidental Golfer
July 27, 2010

Yas brings links to Gulf, says Phillips

With the opening last month of Yas Links, Abu Dhabi’s latest new golf course, traditional links-style golf has arrived in the United Arab Emirates, according to course designer Kyle Phillips.

“What makes Yas Links so intriguing is how traditional it is, because nothing like it has ever been attempted before in the UAE,” said Phillips. “There are a lot of very good courses in the UAE but up until now there hasn’t been anything that would feature on a golf connoisseur’s must play list.”

Phillips has made a dozen trips to the site since February 2007, overseeing the construction details. Presented with a flat desert wasteland devoid of vegetation, Phillips created a dunescape which he reckons evokes a Scottish links flavour. “It was a tough challenge and we had to work out where we could find the material to build the landforms necessary to create a true, traditional-style links course. We also had to take great care in preserving the ecology and every aspect of the course design took this into account,” he said. “Any good golf course has to have a big finish, and I believe the three closing holes at Yas Links are three of the best closing holes of any course in the world I know.”

Yas Links is situated on Yas Island, a major sport and entertainment development created by local firm Aldar, 15 minutes from Abu Dhabi’s city centre. The course measures 7,394 yards from the back tees. Eight holes hug the coastline and 109 bunkers to negotiate along with shifting winds. Five of the last six holes play along the sea. Paspalum grass on all the playable areas should allow for firm and fast surfaces all year round.

Golf Course Architecture
July 9, 2010

Verdura Golf and Spa Resort in Sicily – Europe’s Unparalleled Golf Destination

Verdura Golf and Spa Resort in Sicily offers golfers from around the world an unrivaled golfing experience on Sicily’s southwest coast. The resort features three golf courses, designed by world-renowned architect Kyle Phillips, and opened for its first full year in March 2010. Verdura Golf & Spa Resort in Sicily is quickly becoming a “must play” destination for golf aficionados.

According to Sir Rocco Forte, Chairman and CEO of the luxury hotel company The Rocco Forte Collection, no other golf resort on the continent can compare to Verdura. “There wasn’t anywhere in Europe that offered the kind of golfing holiday I was after,” claims Sir Rocco who spent eight years developing Verdura as the company’s first resort venture.

Verdura’s 570-acre site encompasses some 1.2 miles of private coastline. Kyle Phillips, who created the acclaimed Kingsbarns Links near St. Andrews and The Grove near London, had a pristine canvas upon which to design his vision for the two 18-hole championship courses, the East and the West, as well as the neat little 9-hole par-3 course. “Sir Rocco Forte found a beautiful piece of seafront ground where we have combined our respective skills to develop a 5-star hotel and spa, 36 holes of championship golf, plus a 9-hole par-3 course and full practice facility,” says Phillips. “It’s a unique low-density concept for a coastline property, with only electric vehicles allowed inside the resort. Golf purists will absolutely love it. Near the seashore, I tried to give the golf a linksland feel with a rougher seaside look, transitioning to large rolling Muirfield-like landforms as it moves back away from the sea.”
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Italy: The Latest Home to Links Golf

An American golf course architect designing a seaside links in Scotland, just down the coast from St. Andrews, is akin to an English chef cooking coq au vin at Le Cordon Bleu. But that’s just what California-based Kyle Phillips managed to do a decade ago at Kingsbarns Golf Links. In his latest overseas venture, Phillips has laid out two spectacularly scenic yet understated 18-hole courses at Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, the new Rocco Forte Collection resort on the southern coast of Sicily.

The five-star resort–just over an hour from the international airport in Palermo and near the historic city of Agrigento, with its Valley of the Temples–has much to speak for itself, as Luxist noted in reporting the opening of the property. Not the least of Verdura’s attributes are suites and villas appointed with assorted mosaics, ceramics and artifacts culled from this primordial island by the interior designer Olga Polizzi, Sir Rocco Forte’s sister. The amenities also include four restaurants, among them a Sicilian trattoria, and a gelateria.
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Abu Dhabi Goes Old School

Yas Links is a nod to tradition in a stunning location

When it comes to Abu Dhabi’s grand masterplan, Yas Links Golf Club is something of an anomaly. You only have to look at the neighboring structures of Ferrari World, the Yas Marina Circuit and the chameleonic Yas Hotel to appreciate the emirate’s taste for the futuristic. And yet Yas Links is a tribute to an era where golfers played in plus fours, smoked pipes and answered to names like Old Tom Morris. Let’s face it, that’s not where Abu Dhabi’s at.

The most amazing thing about the course is, simply, that it works. In this hot, desert climate, the concept of emulating a seaside Scottish links appear absurd at first, but Yas Links is remarkably authentic, from the wispy fescue grass to the crumpled dunes and the hickory flagsticks. Yas has traded the bling factor so pronounced in other new golf courses here with a minimalist approach that is both welcome and refreshing.
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