Golfing India’s Golden Triangle
Golfing India’s Golden Triangle – India discovered.
India as a golf destination? When I first found out my next trip was to India I have to admit I had mixed feelings, after all it’s not a place to play golf, is it? For the sightseeing, culture and food India has long been a holiday destination no question but golf? Well the 1st FICCI Golf tourism summit in Delhi was the place to find out what Golf in India is all about, followed by a week playing some of the courses and discovering what else the local region had to offer my mind was made up, armed with my business visa, enough medical supplies to combat Delhi Belly and, of course, my golf clubs it was India here I come.
The First taste of India
Arriving in Delhi International airport with a friendly welcome from our hosts, the short drive into the city centre was an adventure in its own right, we were told the traffic would be quiet!! Maybe for Delhi standards but it took busy to a totally new level, the first thing you learn very quickly is that time is on a different level, don’t get stressed if a 20 minute journey takes 45 minutes, no one else does. Just enjoy the local symphony of car horns and try not to focus on the bus six inches from the door mirror. We soon disappeared down a side road and found ourselves in the diplomatic area of Delhi and admiring the impressive India gate monument and the colonial embassies that line the wide avenues in this part of town.
FICCI Golf tourism Summit
A real intensive two days of presentations, meetings with Indian golf operators, golf courses, hotels, airlines and regional tourist boards. Organised by the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) together with the Indian Golf Tourism Association (IGTA) and held in the conference hall of The 5* LaLit hotel close to the centre of Delhi. After around 30 appointments I had learned a lot about the history of golf in India, where to stay, where to play, what to do and when to go so I was raring to see the real India and get outside of the conference hall and discover what was out there for myself.
Golf in India
There are over 200 golf clubs in India, including the oldest club outside the British Isles in The Royal Calcutta Golf Club whose history dates back to 1829. However many of those 200 are not accessible to the general golfing public being military courses. Out of the remaining courses probably around 20-30 are rated as international standard. Many of the outstanding courses have been built over the last 20 years to international standards usually in conjunction with some sort of property development, one of the exceptions to this rule is Delhi Golf Club, located close to India Gate in the centre of Delhi, built in 1931 by the British it is still a very colloquial members only club and famed for its quality and condition but happy to allow visiting tourist golfers (with the appropriate handicap certificate) to play. I played two other excellent courses around the Delhi area, Jaypee Greens Golf Resort in Noida to the south of Delhi, designed by Greg Norman with water featuring prominently on this course. Good clubhouse and hotel also feature at this resort. The other course worth a mention is the ITC Classic Golf Resort in Manesar. A rural setting but probably the best Jack Nicklaus course I have played around the world, some great holes on this course. The new luxury ITC Grand Bharat hotel has just opened here and for a special treat is a wonderful place to stay for a night or two while enjoying the golf course in a true luxury all suite resort. We also played 9 holes at Rambagh Golf Club in Jaipur and was a good example of a local golf course, a very enjoyable four ball was played but the course was nowhere near the standard of the other courses. It’s a long time since I have seen gang mowers used for cutting the fairways but it’s a reminder of how much golf course maintenance has improved over the last 10-15 years in the UK an experience that turned back the clock.
Away from Delhi and Jaipur, some excellent golf is found in a number of locations especially in Mumbai and Bangalore/Chennai regions. For the more adventurous golf can be played up in the foothills of the Himalayas on the world’s highest golf course at Gulmarg Golf Club in Kashmir at 2,650 metres above sea level and is over 100 years old.
Golf and Sightseeing tour
The best way in our opinion is to combine a sightseeing tour with a few rounds of golf. India’s Golden triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur allows some of the best sightseeing in India while taking in the best of golf around Delhi.
Following the famous Golden Triangle route. Starting in Delhi for a few days allowing for a couple of rounds of Golf while enjoying a day to discover the old town of Delhi together with its colonial past. Then head down to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal something that cannot be missed on a trip to this region of India and nothing short of spellbinding.
En-route from Agra to Jaipur stop and discover the ghost town of Fatehpur Sikri, Jaipur has some wonderful sightseeing. At the Amber Fort outside Jaipur you ascending on elephant up the hill (this is optional for those of a nervous disposition), on which the fort is situated. Before discovering one of the region’s most famous hill forts. In the city itself the old pink-hued streets of the old town are a delight to walk around with its markets stalls and busy streets you really get to experience the fragrance of India and its chaotic charm. A visit to the palace of winds is a must see and one of the most photographed historical building in India is located just outside the old town walls. Outside of Jaipur there are some amazing old maharaja’s palaces set in the hills that have been converted into luxury hotels. This make a great historical stop for a night’s stay as you turn the clock back, and enjoy a Maharaja’s life style in a completely unique experience. It’s also a nice change from the busy City based hotels. Finally return to Delhi for a night or two and enjoy a final round of golf. This tour can be done in five or six days but we would recommend taking around 10 nights to fully enjoy the experience, have time to relax and when playing golf three or four times and enjoy the experience. For non-golfers there are plenty of additional activities to keep them occupied while you play golf or there is always the option to relax by the hotel pool or be pampered in a spa.
Overview of India’s Golden Triangle
A wonderful holiday destination, not everybody’s cup of tea but if you love to explore a new culture and have a sense of adventure then India may well tick a lot of your boxes. You have to be a fan of Indian food before you go as you may be seriously limited when it comes to meal times, the exception being breakfast although the top quality 5 star hotels do cater for the international visitor. However the food was spectacular and delicious, I loved it.
Good quality accommodation is available in all the main cities and most large towns and if you are a lover of Spa’s then you will be delighted with what they have on offer. Guides are excellent and speak perfect English as do nearly all the staff you will find in the hotels and golf courses (I had some great caddies, many play golf themselves and nearly all the clubs have monthly caddy tournaments) make sure you have some small denomination notes as a little tip here and there will make the good service excellent.
The golf was something most surprising and pleasing. The top golf courses around Delhi will stand up and be counted against top resort courses the world over when it comes to condition and course design. With most of the world’s top golf architects having courses in India there are certainly quality courses elsewhere in the country as well. Away from the International standard courses the local club courses can still be enjoyable if you need your fix of golf on holiday, just don’t expect manicured fairways and greens. You will however have a very warm welcome where ever you play.
I was not expecting to enjoy India as much as a did, it’s probably the busiest place I have been to and from someone who has spent a lot of time in the Far East that’s saying something. Only in India will you get five lanes of traffic on a dual carriage way and it still (sort of) moves for most of the time, after a few days in Delhi you become accustomed to the craziness of the place.
The more you travel, the more you travel with an open mind and I believe the more you enjoy new places, visiting the Taj Mahal will definitely always rank in the top five places in the world to visit, I defy anyone not to be impressed or moved by its scale and atmosphere. I certainly was on both counts.
You will see poverty in India but at the same time you will also see more smiles than you would in the high street on a Saturday afternoon. Away from the cities the land is agricultural and a tractor is likely to be the village’s local bus to market it’s definitely a country of contrasts
So is India a real golf destination, probably not if you’re comparing it to other long haul alternatives such as Thailand, Malaysia, South Africa or the USA. There just are not enough quality courses in a vast country the size of Europe. However plan your itinerary correctly and it’s a perfect place to intersperse your sightseeing with some very good golf. If you enjoy doing things on your holidays especially sightseeing then India has so much to offer it could well be the place for you to explore.
We certainly recommend the India’s Golden Triangle as a starting point for discovering India and I personally look forward to our next visit to discover more of this fascinating country.
An example Itinerary of a Private 10 night Luxury Golfing holiday in India’s Golden Triangle
Prices from £1,975pp
Same itinerary using 4 star hotels from £1,599 pp
Visit India and follow the famous Golden Triangle. Enjoy the perfect introduction to India’s three most popular destinations – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – as we explore the icons and discover the secrets of this fascinating region. Experience the history of massive forts, the opulence and splendour of Rajasthan’s palaces, the bustle and buzz of markets and bazaars, and the traditions of a heritage homestay. Travel through a land full of contrasts on this compact India tour, jam-packed with unforgettable highlights.
DAY 01: Arrive Delhi
Meeting and assistance on arrival at Delhi Airport. Private transfer and check into the 5* Claridges hotel.
Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 02: In Delhi
After breakfast enjoy a morning half day city sightseeing tour of Old Delhi visiting the Red Fort built in 1648 by Mughal Emperor Shahjehan Jama Masjid. One of the largest mosques in India, Raj Ghat and Shanti Vana – the cremation sites of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Also drive past Chandni Chowk shopping centre of Old Delhi.
Afternoon half day city sightseeing tour of New Delhi visiting Qutab Minar built by Qutub-ud-Din aibek in 1199, in 1199, Humayun’s Tomb, India Gate (War memorial arch), Lakshminarayan temple – a modern Hindu temple. Also drive past President’s house, Parliament house, Government secretariat buildings and Connaught Place – shopping centre of New Delhi.
Overnight at the Hotel.
DAY 03: In Delhi
After breakfast transfer to the ITC Classic golf course for 18 holes with shared buggy and caddy
Overnight in Delhi.
DAY 04: Delhi – Agra (204 kms, 4.5 hrs)
Morning- After breakfast check out of The Claridges and transfer by road to Agra via Nordia.
En-route play golf at Jaypee Green GC after lunch continue to Agra
On arrival check into ITC Mungal hotel Agra.
Evening at leisure
Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 05: Agra
After Breakfast enjoy a half day city sightseeing tour of Agra visiting the world famous Taj Mahal built by Moghul Emperor Shahjahan in 1630 for his queen Mumtaz Mahal to enshrine her mortal remains. Later visit the Agra fort containing the halls of Private and Public audience and other palaces. (Taj Mahal closed on every Friday).
Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 06: Agra – Jaipur (237 kms, 6.5 hrs)
Morning after breakfast Check out of hotel and drive to Jaipur enroute visiting FATEHPUR SIKRI built by Emperor Akbar in 1569 and abandoned after 15 years due to scarcity of water. See the graceful buildings including Jama Masjid, Tomb of Salim Chisti, Panch Mahal and other Palaces.
Check in to the ITC Jaipur – Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 07: In Jaipur
After breakfast a full days sightseeing in Jaipur
Morning half day excursion to Amber Fort the ancient capital of the state until 1728. Visit the Jagmandir or the hall of victory glittering with mirrors, Jai mahal and temple of Kali. Ascend on elephant /jeep ride, the hill, on which the fort is situated.
Afternoon half day city sightseeing tour of Jaipur visiting Maharaja’s city palace and the observatory. Drive past Hawa mahal or the palace of winds and through the rose-pink residential and business areas of Jaipur.
Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 08: In Jaipur
Transfer to Samode Palace Hotel – Live life as a Maharaja for a day in this amazing hotel set in the hill 1 hour from Jaipur
Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 09: Jaipur – Delhi
After breakfast transfer to Delhi, on arrival to Delhi check in to Claridges hotel or similar hotel.
Afternoon at leisure
Overnight at the hotel
Day 10: Delhi
Play at Delhi Golf Club including caddy
Dependant on your return flight time an extra night may be needed in Delhi
or Day 11: Delhi
Transfer to Airport for your homeward flight or internal flight to extend your holiday
10 nights Twin shared accommodation in top class 5* Hotels
Daily buffet breakfast
3 rounds of golf including, Shared carts & caddy* (recommended caddy tip 500IRS approximately £5)
Private transfers with English speaking guide
Full days sightseeing in Delhi and Jaipur and half days sightseeing in Agra.
All entrance fees included in listed sightseeing tours
International Flights (London/Manchester – Delhi)
To Visit the hotel websites listed in this tour click on the hotel logo’s