Treasure Island

Just back from Sardinia. Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote about the island earlier this year. You can find images at:

“It’s the best island in the world,” says Donato Ala excitedly as he drives towards the Chia Laguna resort. I assume his confidence stems from his familiarity with the roads; after all, this is where he grew up. As it’s quarter to midnight and pitch black, it’s hard to tell whether Sardinia is indeed the best island in the world, but it certainly has a nice feel to it; even in the dark.

Before making my way to autonomous region of Italy, I had done my usual research into what lay ahead but found gathering up first-hand accounts of the second-largest island in the Mediterranean difficult, never mind unearthing any good golf stories. Those who had been there gave glowing reports about the stunning geography and ink-blue seas, but were muted about everything else. So, when I arrived, all I had to go on were the excited ramblings of my Italian host.

To be fair, Ala heads up an Italian media company that specialises in reporting on some of the world’s best golfing destinations, so although his pride was clearly on show, he also knew what he was talking about. As I discovered, Sardinia is in fact a remarkable island full of exotic scenery and rustic charms right in the middle of the Mediterranean, which for some reason has passed most of us by.

After arriving at the resort and enjoying a good night’s sleep, Ala continues his charm offensive by describing what’s in store for the island. On a map, he scribbles numbers at various locations – number three in the south east corner, number four in the north west, and so on. Large circles are quickly drawn around each indicating the locations of various new golf developments. By his calculations, 17 are currently in the offing.

His figures surprise me. Although Sardinia is remarkably beautiful, centrally located and blessed with 300 days of sunshine annually, it rarely makes it into golfers’ top 10 places to visit. This might have something to do with the limited number of golf courses on the island – at last count, only four 18-hole courses and two nine holers were in play.