Chip, putt and sip coffee at Chikkamagaluru

Golf: With CGC turning into an 18-hole course now, golfing aficionados have one more incentive to plan a trip

Chip, putt and sip coffee at Chikkamagaluru

Madikeri, Kodaikanal, Ooty, Wellington.... These are not just tourist hot spots in South India but possess some of the most picturesque golf courses that invite one to come back again and again.

Making the best use of the natural beauty that they have been blessed without having to add much cosmetically, these venues are not just a must-weekend getaway for all the resident estate owners but an important stress buster for all the top corporate honchos.

Unlike his fellow planters in Ooty or Madikeri, A B Sudarshan, a seventh generation coffee planter in Chikkamagaluru, had to drive all the way to Bangalore Golf Club once every fortnight to play a round with his friends. Despite being the major coffee growing area in Karnataka and home to some of the scenic places in the State, Chikkamagaluru lacked a golf course that often left Sudarshan baffled.

 “Most of the plantation areas in South India have a golf course, be it Coorg, Madikeri, Ootacamund etc. The British had set up golf courses in all the plantation and hill station areas. I wondered why they didn’t think about setting up a golf course in Chikkamagaluru, considering it is the main coffee growing area in South India,” said Sudarshan.

“It then struck upon me in 1996 that we too needed to have a golf club here. Following some discussions with family members and friends, I was able to get 51 members on board and we were able to finally open a nine-hole golf course, aptly called the Chikmagalur Golf Club, in 2002,” added the 61-year-old, who is the founder president of the club.

Having achieved his major goal, Sudarshan, however, didn’t stop there. Knowing that a course can only be termed complete if it has 18 holes, he and other members of the golf club went about the task of doubling its size.

They first acquired an extra 30 acres of land to the existing 52 acres and then sought the services of Phil Rayan of Pacific Coast Design, Australia, to turn the course into an 18-hole adventure, showing their ambitions of attracting pros in the future. The expansion plans began in April 2012, shutting the course temporarily before opening the gates again on March 7 as a full fledged one, complete with lodging facilities. 

“I wouldn’t want to reveal the deal we have with Phil. It’s something between the two of us. But what I would like to tell is that he was very happy with our objectives. He knew we were very serious about making this a very good course and he really helped us in designing a beautiful course,” said Sudarshan.

“That apart, I need to thank a lot of people. Everything has fallen in right place and even I’m surprised at the pace at which we were able to achieve our goal. A lot of people from the government also helped us. The tourism department was also very helpful.”

While hoping that one day top amateur and professional events would make its date with the course, Sudarshan felt the course needs a decade to fully blossom. “Golf courses are like wine, they mature with age. The entire set up will take around 10 years to mature. After that it all depends on the respective committees to enhance it further.

“In terms of hosting events, it all depends on the Indian Golf Union. They need to approve us. We hope the pros and amateurs visit us and the word spreads. That’s the only way a golf course will become popular. We are hopeful the IGU will visit us soon and I’m confident they will be impressed with our facilities.”

While the course will be a boon to aspiring golfers in the region, Sudarshan also didn’t rule out attracting more tourists. “Chikkmagaluru actually started the tourism revolution in Karnataka. It has plenty of hot-spots, like the tallest peak in Karnataka, the first place to grow coffee in the State, this place is also where five rivers start their journey.

You also have two beautiful hill stations — Kemmangundi and Kudremukh — and a wildlife sanctuary. When you add a golf course to all this with very good lodging facilities, then people will be easily attracted.”


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