The remembrances of a round at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) are many but the telltale signs are those of physical struggle. The dense shrubbery along the fairways holds out challenges no other course does, and any act of aggression has bruising repercussions.
“The scratches on the body are not only a source of physical discomfort but also leads to uncomfortable questions. After all, considerable time can be spent explaining to the wife that the bruises are a result of a round of golf and not the culmination of a passionate afternoon,” says Brandon de Souza in mirth.
Like de Souza, a top player of his time, the DGC, which is celebrating its centenary and was once the burial grounds of the 14th century Lodhi Dynasty, has handed out valuable classes to many a notable name down the ages.If traversing through the main course is a walk through nature, which leaves one awe-struck at the varied flora and fauna, course management and the importance of accuracy (not length) are lessons that Indian Open (synonymous with the DGC and Royal Calcutta Golf Club) champions Payne Stewart and Peter Thompson have come away with.
Like the generous dotting of mausoleums, every inch of this quaint Lodi Course has a tale to tell, each loaded with generous dollops of drama and excitement.
It was here that Ali Sher, a homegrown talent, became the first Indian professional to win the Indian Open in 1991 and he went on to replicate the success in 1993. Ali Baba (as he is fondly known in golfing circles) changed the way the world perceived Indian golf.
Gaurav Ghei, again reared on the greens of the DGC, clinched his maiden Asian Tour title when he chipped in with an eagle to win the Gadgil Western Masters in 1995. The epochal occasion is a source of inspiration and soon after his breakthrough moment on the Asian Tour last year, Anirban Lahiri, standing on the 18th green, the spot where Ghei had rounded off his campaign, spoke on how it motivated him.
But, the story that stands apart is that of SSP Chowrasia. Emerging from the shadows, the diminutive Kolkatan spun a tale well beyond his imagination when the Indian Masters teed off in February 2008. Soaring past a field that had the likes of Ernie Els, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell among others, Chowrasia went on to win the maiden European Tour event to be hosted on Indian soil.