Sundays in parts of Switzerland are as quiet as they used to be during the 1960s and ’70s in Great Britain when all the shops were closed and pubs had to close at 2.00pm. Sunday is family day, and rarely will you find a family spending any time on a golf course. This means that Sunday morning is a simply wonderful time for visiting golfers to enjoy a round.
And what a boon that is as Saturdays in Ascona, down on the Swiss-Italian shores of Lake Maggiore often finds both the town’s courses completely rammed in fine weather with five hour plus rounds the norm. Ascona Golf Club is the older of the two but Gere Losone some 10 minutes away from the town centre is the one regarded as a more varied test of golf and is most certainly in a far more spectacular setting.
When architect Peter Harradine first saw the site it was nothing more than a totally flat cornfield in a valley floor without one defining feature. Now there are rocky outcrops, palm trees, mounds, ponds and a lake in front of the chalet-style clubhouse that even boasts a fountain. It is fun, fair and most of all, on a Sunday morning at least, fast!
The course opened in 2001 and for six years, between 2006 and 2012 played host to the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open. It is an American style set-up with plenty of water hazards, especially on the par three holes, and minimal rough, with the additional advantage of not being too long- only 6,250 yards from the back tees. Like many modern courses it returns to the clubhouse after nine holes although such is the quality of the clubhouse restaurant that it is as well to play the full 18 before taking advantage of its superb menu.
The very best of the holes come on the back nine anyway with the stroke one index 13th a tight 434-yard right hand dog leg with trees and out of bounds all up the left hand side whilst the 18th is a beauty. At 409 yards it is not particularly long but with water that runs along the left that billows out in front of the green anything coming up the least bit short with the second shot will be wet.
But having negotiated that the clubhouse terrace is before us with an excellent wine list and some first class German beer on offer as well. Travellers thinking of coming to Ascona are best advised to fly into Zurich and then enjoy a stunning railway journey through the mountains down into the town. One of the world’s great hotels, The Eden Roc, awaits as well as sone excellent golf. Especially on a Sunday.