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Delhi Golf Club to reserve slots for professional golfers

The 1930-born coveted playground for the Capital’s rich and famous admits new members through two categories — called business and service.

india Updated: Jul 16, 2017 18:12 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Moushumi Das Gupta
Hindustan Times
Delhi golf club,golf club,professional golfers
A view of the prestigious Delhi Golf Club, which was establised in 1930. (Credit: Delhi Golf Club website)

The super-exclusive Delhi Golf Club, where people need to wait up to 25 years to get membership rights, will have to admit professional golfers and let them train on its manicured, tree-lined greens.

Besides, a rule tweak will reduce membership renewal time for retired bureaucrats, a move seen as the government’s post-retirement gift for them.

The 1930-born coveted playground for the Capital’s rich and famous admits new members through two categories — called business and service.

Every year, the club admits about 160 members in the business slot for private individuals and around 40 in the other, which is reserved for Supreme Court judges and government officials. Rules say 50% slots in business are reserved for dependents such as spouses and children of members.

The Union housing and urban affairs ministry, which has a say in deciding membership rules, has allotted 10% slots to professional golfers from the quota for dependents of business members.

The club currently allows non-member golfers, charging Rs 6,000 a day to play in the 18-hole course.

The decision to grant them membership is seen as move to encourage competitive players as golf last year became an Olympic sport and India has only a handful of good courses for them to train. Besides, Indian pro-golfers are earning plaudits in international competitions.

“Golf is an expensive game. Not everybody can pay Rs 6,000 a day to practice at the DGC grounds. If I have membership I can practise anytime. You need at least nine hours of training if you are playing in the international circuit,” said 26-year-old Rashid Khan, a professional since 2011.

He cut his golfing teeth at the club, where his uncle worked, and got training rights there after impressing stand-offish officials with a series of tournament victories.

The ministry informed club secretary Rajiv Hora about the decision in April. Hora was not available for comments.

The decision to accommodate golfers was taken after requests from the sports ministry, which contended that the club should be used as a “public asset” to promote golf as it stands on 180 acres of government land. The prime plot was leased out by the housing and urban affairs ministry for 30 years for a nominal fee of Rs 5 lakh.

“Unfortunately, DGC is run more as a private club and uses this land for the benefit of its own members,” former sports secretary Rajiv Yadav wrote to his then urban development counterpart Rajiv Gauba in June last year.

Government officials pay a discounted membership fee of Rs 4 lakh. The fee in the business category is Rs 10 lakh, and a dependent pays Rs 3 lakh.

Other than the discount they enjoy, bureaucrats will now be considered for continuing membership after retirement.

According to previous rules, members in this category lose their rights to the club after retiring from service. They have to reapply through the business quota, where the waiting period is 25 years — 10 years more than the section for active bureaucrats.

“This has been done to safeguard their interests. Post-retirement also there cases will be considered under the service category where the waiting period is less,” a source said.

First Published: Jul 16, 2017 18:07 IST