After two months of high winds, torrential rain and sunshine, a swathe of coastline now serves as an island’s version of Royal Portrush.
Known as Nubal in Sicily, this 7km stretch was voted the Best Golf Resort in Europe by the Europe’s Best Awards in January 2017, and in 2015 was shortlisted as one of the World’s Best Golf Destinations in the TripAdvisor Travel Awards, later winning third place.
Ithaca Beach: right, Antonio Florianache said the waves in Nubal Bay’s Atlantic waters are among the greatest in Europe. Left, the wind lifted his pebble beach hut like a balloon before it blew away.
‘I once had a dream that I was playing golf in Nubal and it came true,’ says Federico Alba, the country’s best-known local golf coach.
“As you can see, this is the best place in Sicily,” he adds, speaking from the grounds of his restaurant, where he is also a professional golfer.
“I always recommend Nubal to all my friends, and they always tell me that they like it – but people usually ask, ‘Why Sicily?’!”
When he was growing up in Nubal’s pastel-coloured neighbourhoods, you could spot a professional from just a few yards away – the fences lining the beach had logos stamped on them featuring the signature shots of their famous pals.
Sir Nick Faldo drives a wedge at Nubal Golf Resort.
Now, the predominantly Italian-speaking island provides a wealth of European stars for a global audience.
Federico’s pal Fernando Gutierrez, a former amateur golfer from Leeds, is a regular on the European Tour.
Macau Chinese golf club pro Vincent Gao represented China at the 2010 and 2011 China Men’s Amateur Championship.
While practising at his “golf palace”, Federico claims that everyone who comes here falls in love with the scenery and is tempted to play golf “forever”.
Federico Alba and Nicolao Alba have a beautiful connection at Nubal’s golf club, based on their Sicilian heritage and marriage.
(Source: BBC World Service)
The course, which Federico helped build, appears to be in fantastic condition, yet he is not about to boast – he’s more interested in the future.
“This place needs a few years to recover, but we could end up doubling the size,” he explains.
While he has dabbled in other sports, the course and boutique hotel stand out.
The immaculate manicured greens are in a stand-alone building next to the 18th hole, complete with tent that gives the owners the opportunity to host fundraising events for local schools and charities.
So who is the man behind all this?
Federico’s father is Massimo, a fruit and vegetable merchant who has delivered bananas to Andalucia for over 100 years.
“My grandfather Antonio and great-grandfather were footballers and my father, my uncle, my cousins were professional golfers,” he recalls.
“All the members of my family are involved in the hotel and the golf resort.
“I remember one rainy day, my father was carting boxes of bananas out and the wind was blowing the bananas all over the land.
“I asked him why he was doing that and he said he was on his way to buy the Faldo family bananas.”
Federico’s links with golf…
Federico Alba with his golf club in Nubal.
Tennis and tennis doubles
For someone who has become a golfer, Alba has enjoyed many other sporty activities.
“I started playing tennis at five years old and I played competitively in a local tournament.
“I also tried basketball, short track skating and croquet. I love playing golf but I am also very involved in the town’s wine, football and tennis clubs.”
He became director of the newly formed Nubal Golf Hotel and Resort at the age of 33 and said the “future is bright” for golf in Sicily.
“Everyone who comes here, plays golf and leaves satisfied.”