The Player's View: Menaggio & Cadenabbia GC
What they say: "[It] whetted my desire to go there"
Written by William fforde in 2013-14, this book was commissioned by the club and recounts the history of the design of Italy’s second oldest course, which opened 6 years before St George’s Hill, to the design of its founder members (British ex-pats), who famously consulted reigning Open Champion J H Taylor on its original 9 holes, and then again on extension to a full 18 holes.
With its eagles’ nest location above fashionable Lake Como, it is hardly surprising that Menaggio has seen a rich history. Its location and support from owners who included as strong a sporting family as that of Ted Dexter, the former England cricket captain, enabled it to recover strongly after WW2.
This led to its purchase in 1960 by the family of Milanese businessman Antonio Roncoroni, who commissioned an extensive redesign by Commander John Harris (contemporaneously dubbed ‘the James Bond’ of golf course design).
Half a century on, Turner, fforde and Scott Macpherson have been engaged by club president Vittorio Roncoroni for an enhancement programme to create a course more challenging to players with 21st century equipment, yet steeped in the club’s history. The re-design will hark back to the early 20th century British design style of Colt, Mackenzie, etc..
In The Player’s View, amidst biblical misquotes, we are transfigured into God’s ‘clubhouse in the sky’. There, the history of these events unfolds, from the original nine holes to the 21st century masterplan, seen through the eyes of chief protagonists Taylor, Harris and Roncoroni. We meet them in the company of Bernard Darwin (aka ‘San Bernardo’, recently-appointed by St Andrew as patron saint of golf writers). Eavesdropping on the ensuing dialogue, we learn of their parts in the history of the development of the course, and their views on it, including those of the ever-loquacious Bernardo.
The story of how Ted Dexter’s father saw to the course’s restoration after WW2 is presented as extracts from ‘The Book of Ralph’. This anachronism, a hitherto lost book of The Holy Bible, in which even Mussolini scores a footnote, seems to have been phished from heaven following a lapse in St Andrew’s security systems.
The book opens with an intimate foreword from Ted Dexter himself, revealing his family connection with Menaggio GC and the adjoining Villa Lungarna in which he spent much of his childhood.
An added dimension is fforde’s refusal to mention the name of the recently-remarried leading American actor, who is perhaps the most famous member of the club (well…, amongst the living). Instead, 26 film/TV titles credited to The American have been sunk into the text as (to use cricketing parlance) ‘googlies’ for readers to spot and thus reveal his identity. A couple of ‘slower balls’ are also bowled, to confuse the issue.
To cheat, to see all these deliveries (one of which is repeated in the previous paragraph), simply click here. If you still don’t know who he is, we have to ask you: ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’…?