Golf In Kashmir

Autocracy and subjugation make people to behave in an unusual manner and they are unable to make out about the reality of people and places. Extremes of suppression make thing worst for them.  Earlier golfers were considered to be aliens and golf courses heavenly abodes by the common men. For last many decades after the cession of autocracy and leaving behind of transitory phase of exploitation these places have opened up for people. Many myths like golf is game of elderly people and only rich and so called elite can afford it had come crumbling down. Many more closets are opening up with the passage of time. But yes one thing is true about golf and that is passion.  Inculcation of discipline and etiquettes is hallmark of golf culture no one can deny it.  Golf is picking up very rapidly in the whole subcontinent. Contrary to its previous standing more of the present younger generation from every stratum of society are trying their luck in golf not only as leisure sport but as a profession in many cases. Kashmir has a distinction to possess one of the oldest golf courses in the country and a glorious golfing past except with some patches of feudal roughness and exploitation. Golf courses in Kashmir are prominent tourist attraction and in earlier times high-end tourists would get attracted to our marvellous golf courses.

Our golf infrastructure has increased many folds both quantity and quality wise and much more are expected to come up at famous resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam very soon. Kashmir golf club situated in the heart of Srinagar city has a history of its own. Honours plaques installed within the club premises speak a lot about the history and glorious golfing life at this club. This club is almost a heritage club and needs tender hands to take care of it. Royal Spring golf course on the banks of Dal Lake under the foothills of Zabarwan range is considered world class by all means and is rated as one of the Asia’s best. Its design which blends with its location and the climatic zone is challenging for every golfer. Lush green fairways running through forests and tricky greens can deceive any golfer in the first instance. Other courses at Gulmarg and Pahalgam are being upgraded and will soon fill the voids in the golfing circuit of Kashmir. Earlier Gulmarg golf course with a history spread over a century was more a natural golfing feature for summer months only than a formal golf course. It is now being redone on modern lines with an ability to cater golfing requirements for not less than six months in a calendar year.

During feudal system many golfing events were held both at Gulmarg golf course and Kashmir golf club. These events are well documented on the honours boards of historic club buildings at Gulmarg golf club and Kashmir Golf club. These events continued even after the vanishing of autocratic rule but could not go a long way, crumbled under the weight of feudal legacy and could not resist the glitter of common mans rule. Efforts were made to start a new era of competitive golf with patronage from the government and some golf lovers but as every thing in Kashmir came to a grinding halt golfing was no exception. Last more than a decade has brought a new enthusiastic generation on the centre stage of golf, rejuvenating every area of golf in Kashmir. New competitive golfing events are organised by the authorities with active participation from business houses and some leading news paper groups. A new era of golfing activity has given impetus to golf activities with a bright future.

It appears that for past many years authorities are doing a lot to promote and boost golf in the state both as a sport and as destination to attract tourists. A whole new setup of infrastructure is coming up at an enormous cost and effort. This new approach of promoting golf invites better management and administration of golfing assets within the state. At present individual managements with different nomenclature and setup are administering these clubs some lacking on account of funding and others lacking technical know how. Some clubs are being run by elected bodies and others are governed exclusively by the government. For promotion of golf it has become imperative to bring all these golf courses under one organization. Earlier an idea of golf development authority was floated but it could not materialize due to reasons best known to its proposers.  It is an established fact that greener pastures invite much of vested interest and unscrupulous elements. Golf activity is gaining momentum and with vast established golf infrastructure at the moment administered by an ad-hock management the system is vulnerable to all sort of ill-management and invasion of inefficiency. For the betterment of golf both as offshoot of tourist industry and entertainment it should be kept above politics and influence of few so called mighty and elite. Time has come we should enjoy golf and earn a good reputation and living out of it. With better professional management instead of inviting unscrupulous elements investors will get encouraged to tread into the profitable greener pastures of golf in Kashmir. Instead of running facilities and entertaining only few at the cost of people’s money let new managerial skills explore innovative vistas of growth and prosperity along with quality entertainment for all associated with golf. Discipline and etiquettes the marvellous assets of golf culture are depleting with every passing day, an efficient and unified administration and management will prove valuable in managing this erosion of values.

Authorities should initiate the process of consolidating the management procedure of golf courses before commissioning of Gulmarg and Pahalgam courses so that by the time complete golfing circuit becomes operational a better and unified management will be in command. Management should be competent enough to harvest the tourism potential of golf in Kashmir; competitive potential and entertainment value of installed golfing facilities should be the thrust area of new management. The management should be able to invite and attract more of corporate and media patronage for the betterment of golf, golfing fraternity and people who make an earning out of it.  It should be a multi dimensional administrative organization run by professionals on scientific lines.

As we all know Kashmir is a tourist destination with a standing of its own and golfing destinations play a vital role in attracting high-end tourists with comparatively longer period of stay in the valley so all our golf courses need to be done at par with other courses in the subcontinent with a healthy and efficient administration. Time has come to reshape our approach and attitude towards potential of golf as tourist destination and Entertainment Avenue. A holistic approach to shape golf courses, clubs and administration will make us to sit on firm and commanding turf to market golf in the national and international market.

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