In the last decades, Golfing has emerged as a popular sport in the international arena with more and more professionals travelling across the globe to participate in various tournaments. The growth of the global Golf market revenue is majorly driven by the rising number of international and domestic tournaments happening in different parts of the world and at the most picturesque locations. The global golf tourism market size is expected to reach USD 41.87 billion by 2030. Anirban Dasgupta explores two of the world’s most exotic Golfic locations- The Paradise on Earth, Kashmir in India, and Vietnam, the delightful country in Southeast Asia.
GOLFING IN KASHMIR
“Yeh khitaye Kashmir hai, jannat ki ik tasweer, insaniyat ki dastaan, har zarre mein tehreer
The closest translation of the Urdu poet, Rifat Sarfarosh’s quote could be “This is Kashmir, an image of heaven, every particle of this land tells the story of humanity.” Poets and philosophers from different periods of history have compared Kashmir with the ‘image of heaven’.
For decades people from all over the world have been visiting Kashmir to experience the beauty of the landscape, weather, trade, and politics. But there are others who have discovered quite a different level of interpretation of Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s famous quote on this wonderland, “If there’s any golfing paradise on earth, it is this, it is this”.
Kashmir today boasts of one of the best golf courses in Asia, which include The Royal Springs Golf Course, the Kashmir Golf Course which is also the second oldest golf course in the country, and Gulmarg Golf Course, the highest green golf course in the world. Thanks to the support and initiatives by the Government and Tourism Golfing trends in the state are on the rise. Pahalgam Golf Course has been receiving international attention and is one of the most popular on the circuit today.
Although there is no right time, as they say, to play golf, from April to November, Kashmir provides an opportunity to enjoy golf in energizing surroundings where the wind rustles over giant chinar and tall pine trees. Because of the cooler temperatures on the lush golf courses in Srinagar and Gulmarg, one can play for longer than on the plains. Srinagar’s peak temperature rarely rises above 35°C.
GULMARG GOLF CLUB
The world’s highest green golf course is in Gulmarg. Golf tournaments for amateurs and professionals have been held at Gulmarg for almost a century since the first one was held there in 1922. At 2650 meters, Gulmarg is completely natural due to its rarified atmosphere. In 2011, the Gulmarg golf course underwent renovations and was opened. A meadow has been cut out of the golf course, and at least 16 different species of flowers coexist there with the vibrant lupins. Golfers can play the 18-hole course from the standard tees and get the unique experience of playing at the highest green, but playing from the championship tees, which are 6858 meters away, will put them to the test.
There is also access to the club’s amenities and services. The Greens’ undulations and shapes have been intentionally created to blend with the surrounding terrain. The creeping bentgrass on the Greens is imported from the US. It is one of the best places in the world to play golf in the summer.
ROYAL SPRINGS GOLF COURSE
It is a site made for golfers, with Dal Lake in front and the Zabarwan hills serving as the backdrop. Indeed, RSGC resembles an earthly Eden. Particularly when you consider how many apple trees line the greens, temptation lurks around every bend. Whether someone is a Golfer or nature lover this is going to be a transcendent experience playing here. The surroundings combine aesthetic pleasure and golfing enjoyment.
All skill levels will find the par 72, 18-hole course at 1590 meters challenging. Throughout the golfing season, tall Fescue, Kentucky blue, and rye grow along the tree borders to add colors. The clubhouse’s built-in design is evocative of earlier Kashmiri construction.
PAHALGAM GOLF COURSE (LIDDER VALLEY)
They say this is the closest you will get to attaining nirvana while playing golf.
The Pahalgam golf course will take your breath away with its sheer beauty and design. Set in the pretty town of Pahalgam and surrounded by soaring, fir-covered mountains with bare, snow-covered peaks rising behind them, the course is set in a large bowl-shaped expanse and is a must-experience.
Pahalgam golf course is approximately 100 KM from Srinagar and situated at an altitude of 2150 m. The breathtaking surrounding adds to the exhilaration and gets your adrenaline pumping. The course will test your skills strategy and patients. The Greens are fast and true With bent grass.
JAMMU TAWAI GOLF COURSE (SIDHRA JAMMU)
The par 72 Course is 18 holes with fairways of approximately 275 meters in length and has two big and three small water bodies with an air-conditioned Club House. The most scenic Course in Jammu province with a picturesque view has Trikuta Hills in the north, Bahu Fort in the south, and Amar Mahal lie in the west. An internationally acclaimed golf destination this is both an interesting and challenging Course.
So, next time you are visiting paradise don’t forget to experience the golf aspect of this beautiful land. The Kashmir will ensure you come back with a rejuvenated soul, a bag full of stories to be told.
THE BRAND NEW GOLFING DESTINATION IN THE WORLD – VIETNAM
Two giants of European golf — Sir Nick Faldo, and Luke Donald — have added their voices to the chorus of approval surrounding Central Vietnam’s credentials as a golf destination. “To my mind, Central Vietnam is near the pinnacle of places to play golf in Asia,” said Faldo, whose signature layout at Laguna Golf Lang Co is regarded as one of the best layouts in Asia. “The stunning landscapes of beaches and mountains are endlessly beautiful; the warmness of the people is a joy to encounter and there are wonderful golf courses to suit players of every ability.”
When Faldo and Donald express an opinion on golf it pays to take notice. After all, the English pair have decades of experience at the very highest level of the game. They have notched 58 professional wins between them. In Faldo’s case, six of these victories were major titles.
Both have starred in multiple Ryder Cup installments, with Donald due to perform a vital captain’s role when the biannual clash between Europe and US golfers takes place in Italy this September.
And their zeal for the golf options in Central Vietnam — not to mention an array of off-course attractions ranging from endless beaches, world-renowned cuisine, and luxury resorts — bodes well for the destination as golf travel returns with a vengeance.
The buzz about Central Vietnam’s layouts has grown almost as loud as the motorbike horns that soundtrack daily life in Danang. Layouts such as Laguna Golf Lang Co and Ba Na Hills Golf Club are among Asia’s best courses. Ba Na Hills Golf Club features natural elevation changes, ravines, streams, and spectacular mountain backdrops. At Laguna Golf Lang Co, Faldo’s championship course threads between trees, over rice paddies and streams, through rock features, and alongside the pounding surf.
Other highlights for play, meanwhile, include courses designed by luminaries including Greg Norman, Colin Montgomerie, Robert Trent Jones Jr., and Jack Nicklaus.
“Asia’s top golf destination is not just recovering following the pandemic: it’s getting even better,” said Gary Dixon, general manager at Ba Na Hills Golf Club, one of the driving forces in the Vietnam Golf Coast (VGC), a freshly rebooted destination.