The Road to Rome 2022 made another spectacular pitstop this week as the famous Piazza Città di Lombardia in Milan was transformed into a mini-golf course, where 2,500 Italians were given the opportunity to experience the magic of golf in anticipation of The Ryder Cup in four years’ time.
Golf in Piazza, which featured a putting green inside the Belvedere on the 39th floor of the Palazzo Lombardia – a renowned skyscraper in central Milan - marked the next stage of The Road to Rome 2022, an initiative driven by the Federazione Italiana Golf in collaboration with the Lombardia Region and its tourism brand inLombardia.
The event provided a unique experience for many families and children to play golf for the first time in a popular city centre location, with golf clubs and balls provided as well as coaching from qualified teaching professionals.
It forms part of a wider effort to bring the sport to the Italian public – especially young people - ahead of Rome’s hosting of golf’s greatest team event, which will take place at Marco Simeone Golf and Country Club in 2022.
The visit to Milan followed the most recent stage of the Road to Rome’s Golf in Piazza initiative last month, which took place in the historic setting of Castel dell’Ovo, the oldest standing fortification in Naples.
In front of the breathtaking scenery of the Neapolitan gulf, former Napoli Football Club forward Giuseppe Incocciati and Italian soap opera actor Davide Devenuto were among those to hit exhibition tee shots into the Gulf of Naples.
The Road to Rome began in 2017, when the Ryder Cup trophy visited Sicily during the Rocco Forte Open – Verdura, Sicily.
In the shadows of the iconic Valle dei Templi, a group of Italy’s finest players – including European Tour winners Edoardo Molinari, Matteo Manassero and Renato Paratore - and some of the country’s emerging young stars took on a nearest the pin challenge.
The trophy then visited one of the highest mountain peaks in Europe, where another group of Italian professionals, along with young amateurs Charlotte Cattaneo and Andrea Romano, took a cable car more than 3,000 metres up to take on a nearest the pin challenge.
After reaching the Punta Helbronner Terrace, at 3,466 metres above sea level, the group all hit what Gian Paolo Montali, General Director of The 2022 Ryder Cup, described as a “symbolic tee shot”. Set on the Europe Terrace which links France to Italy, the location symbolised the baton passing between Europe’s hosting of The 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris and the 2022 edition in Rome.
The Ryder Cup was then whisked off to the Lazio district of the capital city. During the visit in September 2017, the trophy saw 15 golf clubs across the central Italian region in one day, which, with the help of the Italian Golf Federation, opened their doors to allow all to try and play golf. With the help of teachers from all the venues, hundreds of children were given the opportunity to try golf for the first time that day.
In October, the streets of Monza were transformed into miniature golf courses with pedestrians of all ages stopping to try golf. More than 3,000 people picked up a club to try a series of fun games set up all over the city, including a competition at a nine-hole course which was set up between Piazza Trento and Trieste to Via Carlo Alberto.
With the Italian Open taking place the following week in neighbouring Milan, a record audience of 73,000 spectators went on to attend the Rolex Series event at Milan Golf Club.
On the final leg of the Road to Rome in 2017, the Ryder Cup trophy visited Florence as 35 children from Ugolino Golf Club accompanied the Ryder Cup trophy on an open-top bus, which took them on a tour of the iconic city.