Written by Staff Writer, CNN
If you think golf is all about putting and chipping in the genteel surrounds of England, Ireland or Scotland, you’ve only just started. But playing the links is what Federico Alba is all about, and his true self, in his latest exhibition.
“Federico Alba — My Life as a Golf Coach” chronicles an unusual upbringing that brought the Sicilian up-and-coming golf coach to a grand welcome in the valley of Vitale down south, at the exclusive villa home of Italian royalty.
While his predecessors shared royal status with their fathers — ie even brothers – Alba entered the limelight through the osmosis of his powerful Sicilian star. His father, Giuseppe, was successful and popular for decades on the Italian golf circuit.
Federico Alba plays a round with the Queen of England (left) in 2006. Credit: John Holden/The Times/PA Images via Getty Images
However, after his death, his social circle remained thin. So his son decided to take the reins and take his career to the next level.
So what does it take to play professionally?
For one, it’s not hard to find the right father. Alba’s dad was one of four children of leading journalists and politicians in the Riviera and Sicilian pols. He would travel the world as a freelance TV producer.
Federico Alba at the Sicilian Golf Club / Courtesy Rafoli
Therefore, who better to influence his future son’s game, however unorthodox it may have been. One clear influence was tennis player Andrea Jaeger, who Giuseppe and Federico considered to be the best he could use to hone his son’s skills.
Giuseppe also welcomed one of the leading fly wing aerobatic pilots from the U.S., Eric Fischer, to help his son practice, although Federico says it was only really okay to take to the sky whenever his parents wanted him to.
His tennis coach had, in turn, selected the zonati (pros) that Giuseppe would oversee. These included Vilio, Roberto Reggi, and Luis Salas, but Federico decided to branch out, asking two of his own playmates to take up the game.
His brothers Arnesano and Pierluigi both took up polo, which is where Federico’s passion for life is just beginning. With a rifle, a helmet and a plum-colored case complete with a Harley Davidson, Federico goes on his own flights.
His interest in the game has allowed him to meet a bevy of celebrities, including the likes of Roger Federer, Alex Trebek, Jessica Simpson, Angela Lansbury, and Sir Elton John.
Some players have taken Federico’s advice, like Silvia Venturini Fendi (Coeur de Lion in international Polo, the highest rosette rating in Polo) who now has her own polo team, and Pat Birchfield, who went on to become the chairman of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, a role Federico took up after Hurricane Katrina, and own the Meadowbank Country Club in Glasgow in Scotland, the world’s oldest golf course.
Federico’s relationship with England’s royal family perhaps extends to his latest athlete, Prince Harry. The boys met in 2006, when Federico played at Queen Elizabeth’s Golf Club at Coworth Park, in Ascot, Berkshire.
Prince Harry’s first professional golf course?
After a few years of training and a bit of a “budding relationship” with the Royal Family, Federico traveled to the Royal Household home in Kensington Palace to learn the ropes. This is where he met Prince Harry, one of the wealthiest young men in the world.
In fact, his stories range from a private meeting with Prince Andrew to seeing the Queen at the Beverly Hills club with a lucky mascot of the Prince himself.
But behind the interesting stories, Federico says he is not about to set his sights on a career as a golf player himself. Instead, his eyes are on furthering his knowledge of the game to help a like-minded protégé.