An outstanding record in competitive golf was a precursor to Virginia Costa’s entry into golf-course design. In both Italy and the United States, she left her mark as a skilled player.
An Accomplished Amateur Golfer
Beginning as a member of the Italian National Team, Costa, born in Aosta, Italy, went on to play her first European Ladies Team Championship at age 11 and won the Chipie Junior International Championship in 1989. Her success on the European Junior circuit was well established.
For her senior year of high school, Costa came to the United States as an exchange student, attending Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Florida, and playing on the girls’ golf team, which won a Florida state championship during her stay. Selected by the Orlando Sentinel as the Best Athlete of the Year in 1994, Costa subsequently was awarded an athletic scholarship by the University of Florida to play on the women’s golf team. Following her collegiate golf career, she declined the opportunity to qualify for the LPGA Tour in order to return to Italy, where she became a champion and two-time finalist of the Italian Match Play Championship, and finished fourth at the European Ladies Championship in 2004.
A Passion for Golf-Course Design and Maintenance
While recognized as a fine player, Costa knew her true passion always had been for golf-course design and maintenance. She had focused her university studies in those areas, earning a B.S. in Environmental Horticulture with a specialty in golf-course maintenance from the University of Florida. While a student there, Costa collaborated with Dr. Michael Hurdzan on the planning of golf courses in the Aosta Valley in Northern Italy, as well as on the improvement of Le Betulle, one of Italy’s finest golf clubs.
Extending her Expertise to Soccer
In 2000 Costa accepted a position as the turfgrass consultant to Italian Major League Soccer. Soon thereafter she became the project manager and turfgrass consultant for the highly-successful Juventus soccer team stadium and training-center pitches. In 2002 she planned and followed the regeneration and reconstruction of the 11th of June Stadium soccer pitch in Tripoli, in preparation for the final match of Coppa Italia Championship. The following year Costa was hired by the Olympic Committee as consultant of the Olimpico Stadium in Rome. These positions afforded Costa the opportunity to apply her knowledge of soccer-pitch construction and turfgrass maintenance, including the use of undersoil heating and cooling systems as well as the adoption of warm-season grasses, specifically seeded cold-tolerant varieties of Bermudagrass.
Golf Beckons Once More
Costa returned to golf in 2004 as project manager and co-designer with Dr. Hurdzan on the first Hurdzan/Fry golf course in Europe. The project, located in Torino (Italy), centered on the enlargement of the Agnelli family’s golf resort, I Roveri Royal Park Golf and Country Club, which had an existing 18 holes designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. Combined with Dr. Hurdzan’s environmental qualifications, Costa’s landscaping and tree-planting talents were integral to acquisition of environmental permits and the efficiency of the golf-course construction.
In 2008 Costa worked with principal designer Dana Fry as co-designer and project manager on the reconstruction and restyling of the Double Tree Hilton – Acaya Golf Resort, in the region of Puglia, Italy. In 2009 Acaya Golf Club was named Italy’s Best New Course by Golf Digest Italy. Since 2011 the club has hosted the DoubleTree by Hilton Acaya Open, a Challenge Tour event on the European Tour.
Costa, who in 2014 was named an Associate Member of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects, now devotes her considerable talent and experience to Fry/Straka Global Golf Design, leaving her signature on projects in Italy and throughout Europe. That isn’t to say, though, that she doesn’t play a round or two when the opportunity arises, with scores to keep her playing partners on their toes.