Golf in India History
In India you can play golf almost anywhere, for this outdoors sport is widely played by a cross-section of people to the country’s often-dramatic background. In the hills and high Himalayan fastness, in metropolitan cities and in small towns, by lakes and forests, or surrounded by tea estates, out in the desert and in old British cantonments… the flavor of India is visible everywhere that golf in the country is played.
India was the first country outside of Great Britain to take up the game of golf. The Royal Calcutta Golf Club, established in 1829, is the oldest golf club in India, and the first outside Great Britain. With the growing influence of the British in the Indian empire, the eighteenth century saw a mushrooming of new golf clubs in India. Wherever land was available and grass grew, golf found a new HOME.
The founding of the Royal Calcutta Golf Club in 1829 was followed by the nowdefunct Royal Bombay Golf Club in 1842 and the Bangalore Golf Club in 1876.The Shillong Golf Club incorporated a golf course in 1886.
Golf had already been played in India for 59 years before the first major course was opened in the USA and Europe in 1888. By the end of the 19th century, India already had a dozen golf clubs.
What makes golfing in India exciting is the diversity of its courses. Not only does it have the oldest golf club in the world outside Great Britain, but also the highest, at Gulmarg (altitude 2,700 metres) in Kashmir. There are golf courses in the mountains, plains, and deserts and at beach resorts. The environment of each course is unique in its culture and history, highlighting all that makes India a diverse destination. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that one of the best ways to experience India is through its golf courses. Most of India’s courses are well connected by road, rail, and air, and have excellent accommodation facilities. Till the 50s, golf clubs in India were affiliated to the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, which followed the rules of St. Andrews in Scotland. In December 1955, a group of golfers got together to form the Indian Golf Union as the controlling body for the game.
The Indian Golf Union is now affiliated to the World Amateur Golf Council, and has done a great deal to promote golfing in the country. In 1957, it started its first training camp at the Royal in Calcutta, where assistant professionals and caddies were brought from all over the country and trained to teach golf.
The year 1958 is a landmark in the history of Indian Championship was moved away from the Royal Calcutta Golf Club to be played alternately at Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta. The most important annual event in the calendar of the Indian Golf Union is the India Open Golf Championship, which was first played in Delhi in 1964, and won by the Australian golfer, Peter Thompson.
Golfing in India has come a long way, and a large number of Indian players now compete on the international circuit. Golf enthusiasts continue to grow in numbers, and new courses are added almost every year. And what could be a better feather in India’s golfing cap than the fact that Delhi was chosen to host the first ever golf competition for the Asian Games in 1982.