Golfing in Sicily: owners of secret island hideaway hope to win Open

Golf Golfing in Sicily • Owners of secret island hideaway hope to win Open

• 13 Italian city golf courses all have water bottling companies A course of Tommasso. Photograph: Getty Images

They’ve played cat and mouse, fought off rumours and shouted at interlopers. Now it is the turn of the owners of Italy’s oldest and secret golfing destination to play the field.

Golf courses at 12 southern Italian cities with public-private agreements dating back to the 1940s all have or are expanding water bottling companies and cannot afford public water provision.

The local mayors, however, are helpless under the terms of the water deals, and the city councils cannot sack them because they are under the jurisdiction of their local state governments.

The owners of Tommasso, hidden beneath the Lazio mountains in Sicily, hope to win permission to expand their own links. Residents in nearby towns are expected to decide in February whether the existing course should be expanded to suit private needs.

Recent reports have suggested an inquiry may be launched in Sicily to determine whether the company leading the project is compliant with Italian laws. Owners say they need access to water because their other links do not currently supply it.

But sources have described the project as the “biggest golf championship venue in the world” and say they are looking to win the National Open tournament to attract the world’s best. Local reports say construction work will begin in April.

Such is the sensitivity of the issue that it could yet have a major impact on the refurbishment of the 16th hole at Tommasso which will, according to reports, include a powerful waterfall. The visit of the golfing high commissioner to consider the expansion is listed for 6 December.

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