Celebrity Golf Coach Federico Alba Reveals Hidden Sicily Life

A professional golfer originally from Sicily, Italy, he has forged a career that combines his love of the sport with his passion for the food and wine of the island where he was born.
Alba, 32, loves her birthplace and wants to make sure you feel the same way. So, at the end of the summer in Europe, CNN joined him on a golf and gastronomic journey that brought these two worlds together.

No detail is left to chance. If a hotel is difficult to find, specific instructions – “Do not turn left when GPS tells you” – based on local knowledge are sent or he will assume the role of convoy leader.

Note to self: don’t try to follow a young Italian as he drives through the narrow streets of Sicily.

Although he loves golf, he believes that in order to fully enjoy the sport, you also need to have access to excellence off the course.

“We should see everything in a very holistic way,” he told CNN.

“Why teach only how to grip, how to hit the ball, how to putt, how to steal a ball when you can give your customers the chance to experience such a beautiful island at the highest level ever.”

A winding road

Before turning to golf, Alba looked ready for a football career. He represented Italy at the Under-18 level and played for Palermo, which was a top Serie A team at the time.

For a variety of reasons – including insignificant injuries and a desire for proper academic credentials – he turned his back on football and decided to focus on golf instead.

He got a job at Verdura Resort, owned by Rocco Forte, on the island’s southwest coast, where he hit thousands of balls every day while learning how to be one of the best.

He calls Verdura a “very special place”.

“This is where it all started for me. I used to spend more time here on the golf course than at home with my parents. The mix of beautiful courses coupled with a beautiful hotel is which makes this place famous all over the world. “

Federico Alba with interior designer Samuele Mazza in Noto.

After honing his skills in Sicily, Alba moved to the United Arab Emirates where he is the senior professional at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club – check out his Instagram page if you want to get a feel for the caliber of the people he coaches – but in the summer months, he always returns to Europe, and if possible, to Sicily.

Most recently, he coached Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola during a visit by the Spaniard to the United Arab Emirates.

“Coaching becomes even more interesting when you have the chance to coach visionary minds like Pep Guardiola,” Alba wrote on Instagram.

“I am always so fascinated by the way people like him approach the game that I love. Dedication, passion and persistence are for sure the three aspects that I will bring with me during this wonderful experience. “

There is a strong association between golf and football.

A favorite pastime of the players, it is perhaps not surprising that they have relied on the knowledge of the coaches to improve themselves.

Former Premier League striker and Nigerian international Peter Odemwingie enlisted the expertise of Richard O’Hanlon – who also coached Manchester United great Peter Schmeichel – and Jak Hamblett as he begins his journey to earn his badges golf coach.

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Our tour of the island involved some truly amazing places; farms that have been converted into spectacular hotels, vineyards that produce some of the world’s most sought-after wines and restaurant after restaurant serving high quality local cuisine.

Combining the golf experience with the gastronomic experience is the key to Alba’s philosophy.

He explains that for him golf is important but that it is also about “everything you find around”.

“What I want to show people who travel with me is a different kind of island. I want to show them places that can leave great memories. Here you visit incredible places but at the same time I want to show you introduce my friends. “

One place, perhaps more than any other, where it is possible to see his philosophy come to life is Noto, a town in south-eastern Sicily, famous for its Baroque architecture.

A photo of the beautiful town of Noto in southern Sicily, taken during a trip to Sicily in the summer of 2021.

On the evening we arrived, one of Alba’s friends, interior designer Samuele Mazza, had organized a dinner at one of the many beautiful restaurants. There was a warm welcome that seemed sincere and genuine. People were thrilled, more than thrilled, that one of their own had done so much with his life and wanted to talk about the role Sicily had played.

A short drive from Noto is the Monasteri Golf Resort. It is a beautiful course created around an old Benedictine monastery. Olive trees, lemon trees, orange trees and Sicilian cacti line the route.

Here we see Alba in action. He is joined on the course by Mazza, a golf novice. The two are there for fun, but Alba’s skills as a coach are clear. He wants Mazza to succeed and when he hits a monstrous 20-yard putt the pleasure that both show is genuine.

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Federico Alba with Guido Coffa, the owner of the Hotel Monaci delle Terre Nere.

At the end of our trip, Alba was packing her bags as well, heading to the mainland where more golf coaching and wine tasting was the order of the day. After that he was back in the UAE for the winter months. He says he’s very happy there, but you can’t help but suspect that his heart is in Sicily.

On leaving, he told us: “They say that if you arrive in Sicily, you cry twice. Once when you arrive and once when you leave.



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