Now, we all know that there is golf apparel. Outside of that we often don’t think about how golf and fashion, two very different ecosystems, are linked. But, they are. Golf resorts have the power to be a sort of community fire starter, bringing together the local with the global. Antognolla Golf Course in Perugia, Italy is just this. It’s a sort of living room in the region of Umbria that brings together the Italian cashmere industry, golf enthusiasts, food and beverage, and organic farming. As there is a marriage between fashion and other industries, there is also a marriage between golf and fashion, and Antognolla is showing the world how this works.
When Americans think of Italy, the images of picturesque southern Italian Riviera towns, luxury fashion, limoncello, villas surrounded by sprawling grapevines, pasta, ancient structures, and close families come to mind. Italy is all these things, but it’s also golf. The country is working to position itself as a premier golf destination, hence the reason the 2023 Ryder Cup will take place in Rome at the end of September. Antognolla is part of this positioning. The resort is currently under construction. The eighteen-hole course is open but when the resort around it opens in 2026, it will feature a 12th century castle and estate, a Six Senses resort with seventy-one rooms and eighty-seven residences, a cooking school, and an organic farm. “Antognolla will bring numerous benefits to Perugia and beyond,” says César Burguière, Antognolla’s Golf Director.
So, what’s fashion go to do with it?
Antognolla is a high-end destination surrounded by high-end Italian fashion craftsmen. The resort works with local brands like Rocco Ragni and is in talks with Lorena Antoniazzi, local cashmere brands, all of which are a part of the Umbrian product that is a part of the unique golfing destination. The resort also works with Italian model Mariano Di Vaio, who is a keen golfer himself.
“With the golf aesthetic becoming increasingly more popular in fashion, I can say without doubt that we have seen a rise in interest from various fashion brands,” says Nicolò Giommetti, Antognolla Head of Marketing. “Our golf course has served as a shooting spot for editorials and catalogues, and we are amazed by the intersection between the golf and fashion worlds.”
Continuing he explains the larger world of design impacting the Course. “Beyond apparel, Antognolla and fashion go hand in hand. We work with the Japanese interior designer Studio SPIN and with the UK-Australian architecture firm Woods Bagot. Through this fascinating collaboration, we get to see how international firms interpret and understand the Italian and particularly Umbrian styles in the design sector. Design and fashion at Antognolla combine respect for local heritage and an innovative perspective,” says. Giommetti.
When the clubhouse opens, its pro-shop will include local and international golf apparel brands. They are already having talks with Umbrian cashmere brands. “Antognolla presents a lifestyle characterized by authenticity, elegance and heritage and our brand offering will reflect just that,” says Giommett. This year Antognolla hosted the Rocco Ragni Tournament, sponsored by the renowned fashion designer of the same name. “For the Minestrini Master Cup 2023, Antognolla brought together artists from Maestro Ministrini’s school to paint beautiful landscapes while the tournament was taking place,” he says.
When you look at fashion craftsmanship in countries like Italy, Lebanon, the Philippines, and India you quickly realize that those skills were passed down from grandmothers, to their children, and onto their children. This is the case for fashion designer Rocco Ragni, who calls himself a tailor 2.0. He didn’t go to fashion design school, and therefore learned from the women in his life and has created a successful cashmere centered business in Perugia. In his workshop you often find his mother on the knitting machine, continuing in the work she passed on to her son.
Walking into his Perugia atelier, it’s a hustle and bustle of the best cashmere knitters. On the bottom floor are skilled men and women at their individual stations. Some stand at the knitting machines creating just sleeves, some just the back of a sweater, others the front, and others collars. And on the other side, you have stations of workers bringing each part of a sweater together by sewing a sleeve onto the back, onto the front, onto the collar. It’s an organized system but it works. Upstairs is the showroom and brand offices.
“I like working with the best cashmere because it is a yarn that encompasses many themes of emotion, tradition, color, style and design,” says Ragni, who just got off his summer vacation from a Mediterranean cruise where he was stimulated as a designer. His aesthetic is inspired by nature and a respect for the Umbrian environment. For all the reasons he loves being a designer, which are the same reasons why he says golf and fashion are related. “The relationship between golf and fashion is certainly tradition and elegance. Tradition because both golf and cashmere have long, albeit different, stories to tell. Elegance, not for the term that can be commonly associated with a dress, but with the elegance of the game of golf and the elegance of the soft caress of cashmere yarn,” he says.
The Rocco Ragni brand has collaborated with Antognolla for several years says Ragni. “We are often sponsoring important competitions, where we offer prizes in cashmere,” he says, and for those wishing to see the complete collection, they can go to our boutique in the village where I grew up, where my journey began, and where I still work today, which is only 10 minutes from Antognolla Golf.”
Mariano Di Vaio is a keen golfer on top of his work as an actor, fashion designer, and model. Antognolla has partnered with Di Vaio, who brings prestige to the Course. “We collaborate with those who we believe reflect Antognolla’s brand values. We also strive to be authentic, preserve Umbria’s heritage, and stay true to Italian culture. Mariano comes from Umbria and is an incredibly creative personality that has made a name for himself across the globe,” says Burguière.
“Antognolla embodies the Umbrian style at its best: the lush vegetation, the typical rolling hills of central Italy,” says Di Vaio. “Playing golf in Antognolla is definitely a luxury experience, it’s also a lifestyle. Italian-made fashion is deeply connected with the natural elements, especially in Umbria. We produce lots of natural fabrics for luxury fashion, and Umbrian style is in harmony with our nature. Antognolla golf fields are immersed in nature, so the connection is evident.”
The magic of Antognolla Golf Course
Burguière explains why the course is one-of-a-kind in Italy. “The sixty-five thousand-square-feet plus golf course was built in 1997 and was designed by the legendary golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. It is truly one of the most challenging golf courses in the country. Starting in 2018, the course underwent a significant upgrade through a multi-million Euro investment. In 2018, new irrigation and drainage pipelines, and a computerized irrigation system were put in place. As a result, the course is now playable all year round. The bunkers were also redesigned with the latest capillary concrete technology, and for the first time on a European course, the cart path was reconstructed using polymers to give it a natural finish. Antognolla Golf Course prides itself on sustainability. We are GEO certified, and we have an exemplary water conservation system whereby rainwater is collected and then recycled throughout the course. In the future, this water will also be used for the resort,” he says.
A lifestyle golfing mecca, when all the construction is complete, it will benefit the local economy, bringing in tourism. Perugia’s airport is located between Florence and Rome, which will bring in golfers and ready shoppers to embrace the cashmere region and other local designers. The revamping of the course earned it the title of “Italy’s Best Golf Course” by the Western Golf Association (the WGA) in 2020 and 2022. It has been nominated again for this year and the winner will be announced in October.
“As a result, we are a top choice for various tournaments and look forward to hosting many more,” he says. “We are also a destination for Europeans mainly from the UK, Switzerland, and Germany, as well as for many Americans and Australians. The sport is also becoming more popular within Italy. Since 2018, we’ve seen a 145% increase in the number of Italians coming to play golf at Antognolla.”
Umbria is set deep into the heart of the fashion industry. What comes out of Umbria is sent out all around the world, and the vision and mission of Antognolla and how it garners community giving life to the enterprises around it is palpable. This high-end golfing resort, partnering with high-end local brands, is creating a high-end location that’s bound to bring more fashion collaborations and international visitors to this quaint and nature driven part of the world.