“The Rome Golf Club” probably already existed for some years, members mainly British and American diplomats, passionate golfers suited to play on the lawns of the Roman villas: Villa Doria Pamphili, Villa Borghese, as well as a path out of Porta San Giovanni.
In January 1903, according to the first General Meeting minute available (see), the Members asked Mr. Arthur Flach, appointed Hon. Captain, of finding the “links” suitable for their needs of a course.
The November 28th 1903 Extraordinary General Meeting, ratified the choice proposed by Mr. Flach who, after evaluating several alternatives, found that the suitable links were at Acqua Santa, a land owned by the Princes Torlonia.
The rent for the land and a rustic farmhouse,(the first club house) was Lit 2,900 a year, for three years with the possibility of renewal for another six, with the benefit of revenues from pasture and forage.
The Acquasanta links was particularly suitable to host a golf course, with a 360 degrees extraordinary view: on one side the sight of the roman Claudio’s emperor aqueduct, on the other side the Cecilia Metella mausoleum, on the west horizon the two basilicas of St. John Lateran and St. Peter’s.
Site of a beneficial water spring, the handed down legends about the nymph Egeria, the ancient fifteenth century Acquasanta thermal bath, built by Pope Paul V (still visible on the right side of the hole 1).
The slightly hilly landscape where the river Almone, rich of roman mythology legends, and its small tributaries enriched the course of precious natural obstacles.
The few members (a few dozen in the early years) gathered their meeting at the British or the Unites States consulates. Soon after meetings were held at the Grand Hotel more suitable also for the social events..
The minutes of the members annual general meetings, till 1929, are written in English.
The Hon. Captain, managed the Club sports and social activities. The President for the first three years, an Italian, for rule of courtesy to the country, was elected the Marquis Vanni.
In the early years Mr. Arthur Flach – Captain, Mr. R. C. Young and Mr. Hector De Castro where elected Hon. Treasurer and Secretary of the Club, given the small number of members, the Club faced economic difficulties.
The Members in the years improved the course, nine holes until 1912, with the planting of new trees (elms and pines). In 1913, in consideration of a greater number of members and players, the course could be extended to 18 holes with renting more land from the Torlonia’s.
The course, correctly designed since the beginning, was very similar to the today one but with reversed holes order. Because of its proximity to the clubhouse, the first hole tee was about where today is the 10th hole one.
In those days the playing season began in October and ended in May. After the summer break, every autumn greens and tees were seeded. The fairways mowed once a year and periodically open grazing of sheep which in addition to fertilize procured an income to the club .
The Great War, disrupted Europe and also the Club social life. Until January 1923 the citizens from former enemy nations were banned from playing.
After the first 20 years from the beginning, ended the great war, the club economic situation was recovering and an increasing number of Italians joined the Club. In December 1923, the General Meeting approved a fundraising of about Lit 100,000 to build a new club house (the second) located next to the first one.
From 1925 increase also the number of Italians members in the Club Managing Committee.
The minutes of 23 April 1928 General Meeting show the ruling of Acqusanta Golf Club joining the newly founded Italian Golf Federation (FIG), associated to
the Italian Olympic Commitee (CONI),
In 1929 was built an irrigation system for the first nine holes only.
In 1930 the Italian members of the Managing Commitee are now prevailing and the meetings minutes was written in Italian only.
In the thirties, the Acquasanta is well established in the roman social society. The reputation of the first Golf Club in Italy is confirmed from the list of members in 1935. It included the names of most of the roman nobility and the best Italian and foreign intellects. Because of a good finance situation further improvements were taken on the course, more trees planted.
A good indication of the Italian golf development in those years is given by the numbers of Italian Golf Federation registered players: it was 113 in 1934 rising to 146 in 1939.
In 1938a new club house (the third one it was inaugurated), designed by the Arc. Pater. The swimming pool, still in use, became famous for its icy water coming directly from the Acqusanta mineral water spring.
The club house was largely funded by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Galeazzo Ciano, who in those years and until the Second World War, adopted the Club as an annex of his ministry. An ideal discreet location, where the presence of British people and their thinking was easily approachable.
The destruction of World War II spared much of Rome, but because of people food need, part of the golf course had to be turned into “war gardens” and sown with wheat.
On 22 January 1944 the Allies landed at Anzio, the Wehrmacht occupied the club house and the course. Camp were armed by the Germans on the river Almone valley but fortunately respected the greens and did not bring damages to the clubhouse. Oddly the Allied’s Spitfire and P-48 spared this German camp. It was then asked some pilots why they had not bombed that German settlement so visible. Laughingly they replied: “We would have been crazy to destroy the only golf course of 18 holes south of Florence….”