When you think of India you think of the Taj Mahal, Rajasthan’s forts, beaches in Goa and houseboats in Kerala – to name just a few of the country’s draw cards. This is the well-known India. But amongst India’s best-kept secrets are its golf courses.
India holds a rich golfing history and heritage many aren’t aware of – with one of the oldest golf clubs outside the British Isles. Its courses have hosted world-renowned players, CEOs and top army generals and to play at these greens will allow you a glimpse of India’s history and a side of the country that’s rarely seen by visitors.
With courses and clubhouses that are steeped in history and others that have been more recently designed by international champions, India’s golf secrets are waiting to be discovered.
Here are four of our favourite places to tee off in India that we include in our Golf in India tour and some tips for getting your best score on the greens.
Karnataka Golf Association, Bangalore
One of India’s newer clubs, the Karnataka Golf Association is an oasis of green in the city of Bangalore, south India. The Par 72 course, designed by British Open winner Peter Thomson, is a championship golf course of international standard. Spread over more than 100 acres, the course is dotted with water bodies that add to the challenge (and fun!) of playing.
Our tip – The 16th hole is one of the course’s toughest, despite its index rating. It’s a difficult hole to par with a hazard at the front, water on the left of the approach to the greens, trees on the right and a green that is severely sloped and well protected by steep bunkers!
2. Ooty Golf Club
One of the most scenic golf courses in the world, we love the Ooty Golf Course for its location in India and its beauty. A former British hill station, Ooty is a pretty and relaxed place to visit boasting well kept gardens, a picturesque lake and old churches. Today it still offers a welcome respite when the heat of the Indian plains gets too much. Many visitors come to these hills to ride the Ooty toy train.
The beauty of the town extends to the Ooty Golf Club. More than 100 years old, the club is situated at over 7000 feet above sea level in the Nilgiris Hills. This lush green course is a challenging place to play featuring long greens, lots of slopes, several blind holes and uphill drives. With its challenges though comes a stunning natural beauty in the thick forests surrounding the greens and views of the nearby hills from certain tees.
Our tip – Ooty’s altitude and thin air will make your balls travel further.
The Royal, Kolkata
No golf tour in India would be complete without a visit and at least one game at The Royal Calcutta Golf Club, known as the Royal. We love it for its history and for its role in the game. The Royal is essentially the home of golf in India. It was the first club to introduce the game to the country and claims to be the oldest outside of the British Isles. Which is apt given its location in Kolkata, one of the most historically and architecturally significant of India’s colonial cities for its legacy as the centrepiece of the British Raj. One of Kolkata’s most impressive sights away from golf is the Victoria Memorial. The Royal course is dotted with famous ponds and has been the shared venue of the All India Championship for many decades.
The Delhi Golf Club, Delhi
The nation’s capital boasts two great golf clubs, but it’s the Delhi Golf Club we are drawn to for the sport and the sights. Like Delhi itself, which features some of the nation’s best historical attractions such as Jama Masjid, the Red Fort and Qutab Minar, the golf course here is littered with medieval monuments. The course comprises the championship 18-hole Lodhi Course, part of the Asian PGA Tour, and the shorter 9-hole Peacock Course.
Our tip: don’t get distracted by the beautiful peacocks!
Lincoln Harris is Founder at India Unbound.