Amazing Fazio Club in Sicily a must-play on Europe’s fabled coast

Sicily was a launching pad for American golf in Europe and Italians and Italians everywhere knew that: They fell in love with George Fazio’s mid-1970s ranch-style clubs, Adirondack-specific irons and precision wedges, traditional woods and fairways carved into hillsides. No longer do any of the “Giant Sixties” relics rattle the shores of the Calabrian Sea.

A British-run third-tier club called Straits was closed in 2002 after almost a century of service (it was identified as America’s first pro-style club) due to poor membership and declining ratings. It was replaced by a Belgian club, and in 2012 one “trendy” American club (no relation to the Fazio brand) closed before a major event. Not by a huge margin — if you’re a fan of such things — but you might want to zip your lips.

Legends of the game voted in two European clubs for the rest of us to play and it is the Fazio team that should be favored. The memento that comes in return for that vote is the Fazio family-run club, Cape Horn, in Riviera Coast. Is that French pronunciation wrong? I’ve never been. The sandal fits, indeed.

Fazio has up and running for two decades on one of the great pieces of property in the world. Once the world’s busiest ship terminal, Fabiani Beach is a hilly peninsula on one of the most beautiful locales in all of Europe. Everywhere you look, or maybe just on the waves, the pristine white sand of southern Italy is matched only by gorgeous vistas and serene views.

Cape Horn is a true mid-sized club with a full-sized clubhouse and another 18 holes of well-constructed sand traps and club links with delightful old-world ambience. Cape Horn’s newest nine holes opened only four years ago, but it’s like five courses in one thanks to the sheer scope of design.

The Fazio course borders the north shore of the Calabrian Sea on two sides and only goes out 10 yards off the sun-drenched shore.

Watch out for squirrels, the nibblers are an unquiet menace. The impressive Catalina Club sits just off the coast on the other side of Cape Horn. The interplay of water and sand features the first nine holes but not as much in the second nine.

Fazio’s father started coming in his teens to the Navy and decided the club he would make a big-time business.

Located in a small town some 20 miles outside of the central area of the island and a two-hour drive from Italy’s only major airport, Cape Horn was established by the Fazio brothers in 1987 to replace the successful and famous Cape Horn. The beach is known as a red-dot beach because the coastline is just that.

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