Kashmir offers a unique opportunity to play golf all through the summer – from April to November – in invigorating surroundings, where the wind whispers through enormous trees of chinar and stately pine. In the verdant golf courses at Srinagar and Gulmarg, you will be able to play for longer hours than you can in the plains because of the lower temperatures – Srinagar’s highest temperature seldom goes above 35°C. The layout of both the courses, too, will delight the golfers. Srinagar has an 18-hole golf course with common fairways, and a par of 70. This course is open throughout the year, unless snowbound in winter.
The course at Gulmarg is like nothing you’ve ever seen or imagined before. Situated at an altitude of 2,650 m, it is the highest green golf course anywhere in the world. The layout of the course too is strikingly different from most golf courses– the land slopes and inclines along the complete area of the course, which has a par of 72. There is history at Gulmarg for those interested. The club, started by the British who used Gulmarg as a holiday resort, first opened its doors in 1904, and a charmingly written book traces its past. The J&K Tourism Development Corporation (J&K TDC) now manages the Club.
If you plan to play golf regularly during the entire duration of your stay in Kashmir, a temporary membership can be availed, which will enable you to use the course for as long as you are here. Naturally the membership entitles you to use the clubhouse restaurant facilities. You can hire a golf set and balls for the day from the pro-shops at Gulmarg. Should you want to brush up your play, or simply to learn golf for the first time, there are competent trainers at both clubs.
Gulmarg Golf: Golf is a way of life at Gulmarg. At an altitude of 2,650 m, in the heart of the world famous resort, is its rolling golf course, the highest in the world. The historic Gulmarg Golf Club was started in 1911 by the British who used the place as a holiday resort. Since then it has seen over four score years of tournaments of both amateurs and professionals, of men, women and children.
The origin of Gulmarg as the Golfing Mecca of India goes back to the late 19th century when a 6-hole course was made in 1890-91 by Colonel Neville Chamberlain - the greens were known as browns in those days. By 1896, three more holes in the nullah, below Raja Sir Amar Singh's house, were added. In 1901, the Maharaja of Kashmir donated land at Gulmarg for laying out a golf course, which came to be known as the Upper Golf Course. In 1915 a 9-hole course, also known as 'Rabbits Course' was also built. There was a separate 6-hole course for children. By the 1920s the resort was totally covered with golf courses: two 18-hole courses, the ‘Upper Course’ and the ‘Lower’ and one 9-hole middle course, which was more famous as the ‘Rabbits Course’.
The Gulmarg Golf Club -
The first Golf championship was played at Gulmarg in 1922. The Nedou's Cup was introduced in 1929. In 1930, ‘The World’ beat Scotland. The same year saw the D.P. Vasu Championship for Women and the Children's Golf Competition. In 1931 the women's foursomes played at Gulmarg on the Lower Course. The Northern India Amateur Golf Championship was played from 1947 to 1953. After the troubled times of 1948 when golfing had come to stand still, the J&K government took over the maintenance of the now 18-hole course. Enthusiasts welcomed the revival of golf in Gulmarg in 1954 when many events, such as Duncan Vase, O.P. Vase, Civil Cup and Nedou’s Cup tournaments were held. Peter Thomson Associates of Australia redesigned and laid out the golf course to fit it with its natural beauty, by changing the location of greens and making it more challenging. The Northern India Championship was played at Gulmarg till 1989 when it had to be shifted to the Delhi Golf Club due to problems in the Valley.
Gulmarg, with its rarefied atmosphere, is natural all the way. As the ball is hit, it 'whistles' its way to the next hole. The turf, since it lies buried six to eight feet under snow for five months of the year, is soft. The greens have a combination of moss and a high variety of grass and natural slopes, which are fast to play on, and the thin air carries the ball further. Golfing at Gulmarg's 18-hole course, with a par of 72, is a unique experience.
Hundred years of golf in Srinagar:The Kashmir Golf Club has all the luxuries fitted that make playing golf a memorable experience. It is spread over 52 sprawling acres of lush land adjoining the Maulana Azad Road, the City’s main avenue. Its president, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, is himself a keen golfer.
The Kashmir Golf Club at Srinagar. With well laid out bunkers and hazards, interspersed between chinars & pine is a professional 18-hole course and has been the venue of many tournaments. The course has common fairways and a par of 70. Srinagar offers an exclusive opportunity for golf enthusiasts to play through an extended summer, from April to November. While the plains are boiling, Srinagar's temperate climate allows the golfer to play longer hours without getting tired.
Associated with history of Kashmir Golf Club is its famous pro man of many golfing facets, the 98-year old Ghulam Mohammad. In 1930, he was the first golfing professional in India. He has trained hundreds of aspiring golfers during his long career as a golfing pro. Ghulam Mohammad started life as a fore caddy in the early years of this century. Later, he went on to play to a scratch handicap for 30 years. Through time, he trained famous golfers of India: the late Billoo PG Sethi, the late Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir, the late Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and J.S Pathak. He has also trained Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah who began playing golf since the age of 12, and today is living up to his teacher’s name. According to Ghulam Mohammad, "golf is like an addiction. You can’t have enough of it."
Royal Spring Golf Course:
Royal Spring Golf Course voted as India’s best Golf course spanning an expense of 300 acres near the famous Cheshma Shahi, The Royal Spring Golf Course is open to general public.
The Golf Course was designed and laid out by the World renowned Golf architect, Robert Trent Jones Jr. II, who has designed about 500 courses all over the World, including in Bangkok and China.
The Golf course picturesque located over looking the famous Dal Lake, is set in a natural environment created against the dramatic backdrop of Zabarwan hills. The setting is a combination of aesthetic delight and golfing pleasure and is a truly transcending experience of the Golfer and nature lover alike. The 118 holes, 6445 mtrs. Course at a par of 72 offer a challenge to all levels of players.
The fairways are turfed with coolweather grass of different Shades. Rye, Kentucky blue and tall frescoes have been bordering trees lend a touch of colour throughout the golfing season. The club building is built in a style reminiscent of old Kashmiri architecture with separate wings of locker rooms and other facilities.