Interview with Mr. Fausto Siddu, Golf Ugolino director
Q: Fausto Siddu, you weren’t born into a golfing family. Tell us about your roots.
A: My story is simple: I come from rural Sardinia, in the province of Cagliari. Specifically, the Villamar region, which was poor and swampy and known for its malaria, which claimed my grandfather. By age 7 my father was already working to help support his family. My mother on the other hand was the daughter of a horse breeder, andafter marrying my father gave birth to 13 children! My parents always encouraged our education and as a result I have very successful siblings: an archeologist sister, two sisters who are teachers, and one brother who moved to Chicago and opened three successful Italian restaurants (Volare, Volare Oak Book Terrace, and Benny’s Chop House). I suppose you could say I was the black sheep of the family, since though I was admitted to med school, I never finished my degree. I got more interested in football instead. I guess you could say I had a passion.
Q: Really? How did this passion transform itself to golf?
A: It didn’t—not right away, anyway. When I was 27, my then girlfriend (now wife) got pregnant, and I had to make money to support my new family. I did that as a travelling salesman with Electrolux. How I ended up in golf is a bit roundabout. When I got tired of travelling I was in England, and I started working in the restaurant industry in Stratford-upon-Avon. One thing led to another. Soon I was managing the Villa Villoresi Hotel. It was in this position that I met the lawyer Sergio Montelatici, president of the Ugolino Golf Club, and he offered me the chance to run the club. I didn’t know a thing about golf!
Q: The learning curve must’ve been steep.
A: Absolutely! I remember my first two years, I did a “full immersion” into the world of golf, learning the language, rules, culture, etiquette, and how to play. But it all turned out well. After all, I’ve been managing the club for 22 years.
Q: What other kind of golf-related work have you done?
A: I wrote about golf for a short time, and would to do it again, but to be honest, managing Ugolino does not leave many spare hours in the day.
Q: A lot of our clients are new to golfing in Italy, and are not accustomed with the wonderful courses here. What makes Ugolino a special place to golf?
A: The extraordinary Tuscan landscape, to begin with. Imagine playing a round of golf surrounded by scenery that has inspired poets and artists for centuries! Don’t just take my word for it. The American writer Chris Santella called Ugolino one of the 50 most beautiful courses in the world. And Ugolino’s 9th hole (which has a view on Fiesole) was called the most beautiful par 5 course in Italy in 2002, voted by Italian golfers themselves. And finally, Ugolino’s clubhouse is just as special as the course itself—our restaurant, our Chef, all of it is world-class.
Q: We know that Ugolino has an illustrious history. Give us a little taste of that history.
A: Illustrious doesn’t begin to describe it. This year we are celebrating our 80th anniversary, having been founded in 1934. Over those 80 years our members have included the cream of the Florentine society: the Della Gherardesca, Ridolfi, Rucellai, Antinori, and Antonelli families, to name a few. These names may not mean a lot to North Americans, but they are old and very respectable Italian families. Right now, we are proud to call the King and Princess (ex-Queen) of the Netherlands esteemed Ugolino members.
Q: And not just a few golf stars have come out of your club…
A: Yes, champions like Baldovino, Federica Dassù, Stefano Esente, and most recently the great Lorenzo Gagli, are all products of Ugolino.
Q: Your time at the helm of Ugolino has been long and fruitful—your family must be very proud. Have any of your children wanted to take after their father?
A: <laughing> Actually, none of my children have ever wanted to know all that much about golf. I think my passion for it was enough passion for the whole family. My daughters have somehow ended up working in law firms, or are lawyers themselves, so perhaps for them golfing wasn’t quite serious enough!