Lowering India’s handicap

If golf clubs in India adopt tourist-friendly policies, we can become a golfing destination, says Rishi Narain, MD, RN Sports Marketing.

That golf is a centuries old sport is perhaps a touch incomplete without mentioning an Indian connection. Established in 1829, the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) is the second-oldest golf course in the world, after the home of the sport – St. Andrews (Scotland). In fact, that makes RCGC the oldest golf course outside the British Isles.

That apart, India has about 220 golf courses, in which more than 20 are signature golf courses which are at par with international standards. One such property is the nine-acre Jaypee Greens Golf and Spa Resort, located on the outskirts of the national capital. Designed by veteran golfer Greg Norman, the resort promises some of the most stunning views of the beautiful 18-hole golf course. It attracts many foreign tourists.

Besides Jaypee, other top golf courses for incentive groups would be Boulder Hills Golf & Country Club (Hyderabad), Classic Golf & Country Club (Manesar), Eagleton Golf Resort (Bengaluru), Oxford Golf Resort (Pune) and Royal Springs Golf Course (Srinagar).

Oxford, in particular, has been constantly rated among the country’s top golf and leisure destinations. This Phil Ryan-designed layout is surrounded by the Sahyadri Hills on three sides. The resort is also home to Leadbetter Golf Academy, a world-renowned golf school headed by David Leadbetter who is considered one of the greatest coaches the sport has seen.

“When golfers travel, they look for destinations with at least three to four world-class golf courses located within an hour’s drive of each other and close to classy hotels, restaurants and shops”

What we need though…

To promote golf culture and attract tourists, over 100 new golf courses and driving ranges are required in the country. It will not only help attract tourists and generate revenue for the owners, but also open new job opportunities for the youth. The Ministry of Tourism acts as a catalyst and active supporter for promoting golf tourism in the country. They have actively been supporting small, medium and large events which attract golf tournaments to India especially those with international television broadcast coverage. Associations are also lobbying with city development authorities and state tourism development boards to build courses which bring immense benefits. Couple of projects in Naya Raipur and in Manipur are already underway, which hopefully will lead to more.

There are challenges too

For instance, the number of golf courses and driving ranges are too few. While we have world-class courses like DLF Golf & Country Club and driving ranges of international standard such as Hamoni, both in Gurgaon, we require many more of such facilities around the country. There is also a shortage of good, trained coaches and mentors who can guide talented juniors to reach their professional dreams. At the elite level, we miss out on the technology advancements that is enabling foreign coaches to produce world champions. From a tourism standpoint the policies at the clubs need to be more tourist-friendly. Most clubs are geared to cater to their regular members only and are not currently really prepared for the tourist friendly, hospitable and high-quality service that golfing tourists expect.

(The views expressed are solely of the author. The publication may or may not subscribe to the same.)

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