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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

italy Toscana Oaks Gets National-ized

A Norwegian group has revived its long-simmering golf venture in Tuscany, and it’s enlisted the PGA of Italy to help promote it.

The community once known as Toscana Oaks Golf Club is now being called PGA of Italy National Resort & Spa, but little else about it has changed. The club is still being developed by Tuscany Holding SRL, a group led by Alf Ulven, an Oslo, Norway-based businessman and real estate developer. The club will still be accompanied by up to 385 vacation houses, and its 18-hole, 6,800-yard golf course will still cater primarily to the international travelers that the developers aim to attract.

And of course, PGA of Italy National will still occupy roughly 210 acres in Aulla, a historic village roughly 60 miles southeast of Genoa. People have been living in Aulla since the eighth century (if not before), and Tuscany Holding aims to capitalize on the village’s tourism potential by establishing a boutique hotel and a spa amid its ancient buildings, just steps from the golf course.

When the project was originally unveiled, in the mid 2000s, its golf course was to be designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Sometime later, the commission was awarded to Hurdzan/Fry Environmental Golf Course Design, a Columbus, Ohio-based group led by Mike Hurdzan. Now the course is being co-designed by two of Hurdzan’s former associates, Dana Fry and Jason Straka, who are working, in the words of a press release, “under the auspices” of Hurdzan’s firm.

Fry and Straka opened their own company, Dublin, Ohio-based Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design, earlier this year. A couple of months ago, Straka told me that he hoped Tuscany Holding could break ground on the golf course by the end of the year but that the notoriously glacial pace of government processing in Italy could bring delays.

“The owners are keen on starting as soon as possible,” he says, “but things take their own time in Italy.”

Straka speaks from experience. While working for Hurdzan, he and Fry were involved in the design and construction of two Italian courses: the second 18 at Royal Park Golf Club in suburban Torino and Acaya Golf Club outside Brindisi.

The development process for PGA of Italy National is being managed by Paul Dellanzo, a former Troon Golf regional manager who now has his own firm in Bioggio, Switzerland.

The original version of the preceding post first appeared in the October 2012 issue of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

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