India isn’t your average golfing getaway, but the country actually has a deep and abiding history in the sport, gradually gaining ground since the 19th century. India’s golfers today hit the diverse fairways of the country at nearly 200 registered golf courses throughout the country, many of which are near the finest tourist sites in the country and most of which provide a level of service familiar golfer will be used to receiving. For travelers who want to see the country but also want to hit a few balls around, there are some golf courses that have the sites, service, and novelty that can only be found in India.
Kodaikanal: Golf on Top of the World
Found 7,000 feet above sea level, the Kodaikanal Golf Course is a must for any golfer who wants to work on their handicap in a challenging environment. With cliff-top locations, powerful gusts of wind, and a series of staggered holes separated by steep inclines – designed to test your endurance as much as your technique – Kodaikanal Golf Course makes a round of golf a sporting adventure. Plus, if you can drag yourself away from the excellent golf, the nearby Palani Hills are a great spot for picnics with many well-marked walking trails, complete with the fascinating local wildlife.
Taj Mahal before the Putting Greens
Any trip to central India would be incomplete without a visit to the Taj Mahal. Celebrated as a monument to love, the Taj Maha and the ancient and storied city of Agra are also home to one of the country’s most arresting golf courses. First established in 1867 with just seven members, Agra Golf Club features immaculate putting greens and manicured fairways with nine holes of gently challenging play. But it’s the setting which really elevates Agra Golf Club; its proximity to one of the wonders of the world makes this a great couple’s getaway.
Royal Calcutta Golf Club
Established in 1829, the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) in Kolkata, India is not just the oldest club in India; it is, in fact, the oldest found outside of the UK, and was dubbed “Royal” following a visit by King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. This beautiful throwback to the colonial era is the club for the gourmand golfer who, following a day’s play on the leisurely but exacting course, can either head directly to the clubhouse veranda for a spot of tiffin (the British Raj’s version of high-tea) or seek out nearby Park Street – Kolkata’s foodie mecca.
Ananda in the Himalayas
Primarily a spa and wellness retreat, the 6-hole golf course found within the Palace Estate of Ananda in the Himalayas is a perfect mountainside retreat for couples seeking a little bit more from their holiday. Designed to be fun and challenging, the course has bunkers at each hole and a few tricky water hazards for seasoned players. The peaceful environment is only enhanced by the presence of some excellent restaurants, serving international fusion food and local fare. The expansive spa could make for a romantic honeymoon, and besides the golf there are nature walks, white water rafting, Ganges religious rituals, and even a safari around the Rajaji National Park to find that most beautiful of Indian beasts: the Asian elephant.
Oxford Golf Resort
Considered one of the top golf and leisure destinations in India, the 5-Star Oxford Golf Resort is the city of Pune’s only private 18-hole golf club. Still relatively new, the unique test of the club’s horseshoe-shaped course – made more difficult by uneven terrain and volatile breezes – has garnered an enviable reputation in just a few years. Not just a golf course, the resort is part of a sprawling 100-acre complex, home to villas and restaurants. There’s also potential for a surge of adrenaline at the Della Adventures center, where you can sign up for paragliding and quad biking.