Golf in India: When and Where It Started?

Today India houses approximately 2.5 lakh golfers and 196 registered golf courses but it is quite interesting how it all started. So here’s the story: Way back in 1829, long before the first major course was opened In the USA and Europe, the Royal Calcutta Golf Club was established. However, it did not get the title of Royal until 1911, when the title of “Royal” was conferred upon it by King George V and Queen Mary to celebrate their visit to Calcutta. It is the oldest golf club in India and was the first one outside the UK in the world. The Royal Calcutta Golf Club remained central to the story of golf in India for a long time.

During this period India was under the rule of the British crown and hence under the influence of British many new Golf courses came into existence. The Royal Bombay Golf Club which is now obsolete was established in 1842 and it was followed by the Bangalore Golf Club in 1876. Later in 1898, golf arrived in Shillong as a result of the efforts of a group of British civil service officers who constructed a course in an area called Laban. By the turn of the century, a dozen golf clubs had emerged all across India.

A major shift happened in the history of golf in India in the 1955, when some golfers in Calcutta (now Kolkata) organised and established the Indian Golf Union. Until the formation IGU all golf clubs in India were following the rules of St. Andrews in Scotland under the affiliation of the Royal Calcutta Club. After its formation the IGU worked with an objective to promote the game in India. Today, the Indian Golf Union is at the helm of golf in the country and is affiliated to the World Amateur Golf Council.

In 1957, with an aim to train assistant professionals and caddies IGU started its first training camp at the Royal in Calcutta. Seven years later, in 1964, the India Open Golf Championship was played in Delhi for the first time. Today this is the most important golf championship in India.

P.G. Sethi became the first and only amateur Indian golfer to win the Indian Open in 1965. The next time an Indian golfer won the tournament was in 1991 when Ali Sher won the title. Since, Ali Sher’s victory in 1991 the golf scene has evolved a lot in India. Everyday new golfers join the club. But never forget how it started.

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