Golf in addition to enhancing physical fitness, mental alertness, teaches equality; unfolds the leadership traits within a golfer; develops team sprit; promotes discipline; and above all paves way for strong social bonding among the golfers.
Every game has its own rules and norms and requires an infrastructure with particular specifications. Golf is an outdoor game and is no different from other sports. With patronage from mighty and elite in the past it could not attract much people and become a common man’s game. The other reason of less popularity among masses is its requirement of a vast area of land and huge maintenance cost of the golf course. The initial cost of laying golf courses is enormous. A golf course is a blend of beautiful landscape marvelous architecture, interesting features, flaw less lush green turf and well maintained greens.
Golf and golfing has a long history in this beautiful valley of vast meadows, serpentine streams, fresh and sweet water lakes and beautiful gardens. Every patch and stretch of land in Kashmir provides an ideal place for creation of a beautiful golf course with minimum efforts, because of its beautiful landscape, and quality grass varying from Bermuda grass in the plains to different strains of Bent, Kentucky and fescue grass in higher reaches as ground cover. The history of golf in Kashmir is spread over a period of more than hundred years. The Kasmir golf club (KGC) and Gulmarg golf club are about a century old golf courses and has been designed, laid and established by British. World famous golfers have played on these two courses and Gulmarg golf course has the honor of hosting prestigious tournaments in the past. During summers Kashmir had been the favorite destination of Europeans and powerful elite Indians before partition. These powerful people would always create facilities of entertainment and fitness at their places of stay, which is how golf was introduced here in Kashmir. Golf courses always have informality and natural touch and that is what Kashmir particularly Gulmarg is having in abundance by the grace of God. Minimum ground work had been required to develop splendid and picturesque golf course with a panoramic view from the surroundings at Gulmarg. From golfing point of view the whole of Gulmarg is a golf course which needs minimum laying and creation of features.
The golfing history of Kashmir prior to 1947 is dotted with grey patches of discrimination, humiliation and racism on a spotless canvas of humanity, equality and justice. Our elders used to say that Kashmiries and dogs were not allowed to the golf course. How far it is true I would not like to comment on this at the moment, but it is a fact that the activity of golf has been previously hyped to a level of imagination where poor and underprivileged were made to fantasize about it and well off but less powerful people who could otherwise afford it were discouraged. The mighty, elite, and exploiter nexus had created a world of their own where they could plan exploitation, cruelty, plunder and pillage. Frankly speaking golf, if viewed in right perspective, is another game of fitness, discipline, teamwork and etiquettes. The story of exploitation and hype does not end here. The post partition era was much painful as the new breed of neo rich Kashmiries who were part of new political oligarchy, in collaboration with the cronies and allies of erstwhile autocracy became instrumental in making these beautiful golf courses out of bond for fellow Kashmiries. Later on the new order of political bureaucratic nexus found these creations (golf clubs) of British Raj an ideal place to devise and plan new ways and techniques of exploitation. Even now, when so much water has flowed down the Jehlum River and democracy is said to have consolidated in Kashmir, the polluted mind set of these exploiters is same and they do not want to lose their grip on these otherwise healthy institutions of sport and game.
The political instability affected every sphere of life and activity in Kashmir during past two decades and golf was no different. But as people of Kashmir came to terms with reality and started living with their fate they made golf courses to function normally treating them the places of learning discipline and etiquettes. Lot of people from different shades and class enrolled as members of these clubs and a healthy atmosphere of golfing was going on. Several business houses and a reputed local news paper started sponsoring tournaments. This atmosphere of peace, equality, and justice did not last long. The peer pressure among the progeny of exploiters and their cronies about recapturing their lost ground lead to conspiracies and has polluted the atmosphere of golfing. The sponsors were made to drift away from the noble cause of sponsoring golf for local talent and again the hype was created just to engulf the noble game of golf and soft atmosphere of golfing with capitalist and power oriented fire of hatred. Sponsors had a cause to make stage for development of local talent but these exploiters made their own plans to channel the resources of this noble cause for their materialistic urge.
New breeds of economic plunderers in the guise of event managers have taken the centre stage of organizing golfing events in Kashmir. These non professional, credential less so called managers have resorted to a modus operandi of relating golf with economic tourist boom in Kashmir, instead they are improving their own economic prospects and position and are least concerned and bothered about the tourism in the valley. These self made managers use the huge infrastructure of golfing owned by golfers and the state for their own personal ends and benefit.
This is an era of professionalism, so how come people with no back ground of management can prove to be the event managers of a sport of class and quality. These guys have messed up the otherwise smooth golfing circuit of Kashmir. They have ruined the prospects of grooming up-coming golfers in the state. The state government should harvest the potential of golf for promotion of tourism by hiring professionals instead of hunting for raw recruits. Giving away and leasing out these beautiful golf course and fate of golfers to this crude so called event management is like selling its hens on a rainy day. Government is duty bound to stop the exploitation of golf and the golfers and should act swiftly.