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Indian tee party

With sprawling greens and growing sporting culture, Delhi is fast becoming a golf capital, says Sonal Srivastava.

india Updated: Oct 03, 2006 16:18 IST

Incredible India is attracting tourists of a different kind. Golfers! In a country famous for spiritual gurus sporting saffron robes or gravity-defying yoga, this comes as a pleasant surprise.

With sprawling golf courses which offer an attractive alternative to unwind and relax, Delhi is fast becoming a golfing destination. Holy smoke: Going by the ground realities, the scene is promising.

In order to woo such tourists, travel agencies have special packages lined up for golfing travellers. It costs anything between Rs 25,000 to Rs 1,00,000, depending on the number of days and the kind of hotel stay.

Most golf courses in the Capital offer temporary membership to the travelling golfer, which can be anything above Rs 1,000, depending on the quality of the golf course.

What has triggered of this teeing holidays? Money and good driving ranges. "The golfing charges are not very high in India. And compared to countries like Japan and Taiwan where there is a shortage of land, India scores. It is expensive to play golf in those countries," says Subhash Goyal, president, Indian Association of Tour Operators.

Anil Dev of Golf Plus concurs, "One of the contributing factors could be the rising number of expats in India who like to come back on holidays to catch up on old times.” Even globalisation has an important role to play when it comes to popularising the game and attracting tourists.

The corporate honchos prefer a location that is closer to golf courses, especially in the metros where most of the offices of the MNCs are located. As good as it gets: But what may mar India’s prospect of becoming a hub of golf tourism is poor marketing. This is despite the fact that the country has one of the oldest golf course in the world outside the British Isles in Kolkata and the highest 18hole golf course in Gulmarg.

C Chaudhri of Delhi Golf Club, says, "The government should promote the idea of golf tourism abroad to tap the full potential in this area. We still lag behind other countries as far as the tourism aspect is concerned." Taking a cue, Amitabh Kant, joint secretary, ministry of tourism, says, "We have come out with a brochure and an ad on golf which will be shown in Japan and Korea."

And with some luck, we may soon have some serious tee party in the city.