I try to find golf experiences when I travel, and playing a course rich in history like The Delhi Golf Club — right in the heart of the city next to the Oberoi Hotel and within minutes of the Taj — is an excellent option.
The course is difficult, as it is quite narrow and lined with indica trees and sticker bushes. What amazed me was balls that strayed off the course were almost impossible to find — and in looking for mine, I never saw any other lost balls. The caddies did their best to find my occasional hooked shots. I blame those errant shots on the 20-year-old Calloway Warbird clubs I was using, reinforcing my belief that it’s best to travel with your own set.
What makes The Delhi Golf Club’s Lodhi Course even more interesting are the many tombs lining the course. Sometimes the souls of these tombs seem to come to the aid of a golfer. In the 1968 Indian Open, Stan Peach nailed the dome of the Barah Khamba tomb. His ball dropped back within inches of the pin for an easy birdie putt. Peach was in the lead by six strokes before hitting the tomb; his game suddenly fell apart, and Kenji Hosoishi won the tournament.
The course’s history starts with the establishment of New Delhi when the British moved the capital from Calcutta in 1928. As they developed the new city, they decided to build a golf course on a strip of land near the Barah Khamba, the Lal Bangla tombs. The Nizamuddin and New Delhi train line previously used part of the land — the station was located where the 13th fairway now lies.
From 1931 until the beginning of World War II, the Lodhi Club did its best to overcome the inherent disadvantages of a municipal course with limited patronage. In 1951, the course was redesigned to become the present Delhi Golf Club, with a second course redesign in the 1970s.
There are a multitude of birds on the course, and rightly so. Each hole is named for one of the famous feathered species.
Hole 10 | 474 yards, par 4
Streaked Fantail Warbler
Our foursome teed off on the 10th hole, where peacocks meandered from one side of the fairway to the other. I teed up my old Warbird 11-degree rental driver and slammed a perfectly decent shot to the center of the fairway. My caddie, Raja, was impressed and thought, possibly, this American was a decent golfer. I had two caddies, one for my bag and a forecaddie to track down my shots ahead. Both negotiated a scheme whereby my play would reward them or me with beers. It seemed I would have to secure a lot of birdies to win. My second shot came up short of the left bunker, and I was able to pound out to the upper tier of the green. A great read from Raja gave me my first par in India.
Hole 12 | 208 yards, par 3
Blue-Cheeked Bee Eater
A surprising little ditch lies in front of the green, which held well-shot balls from bouncing on this green. I used my Warbird 5-wood but came up short off the green by about two yards. I chipped on and was told by the caddie the green rolled “not right, not left, but straight.”
Hole 16 | 412 yards, par 4
Like many course designs and the famous 17th at Augusta, Hole 16 has an “Eisenhower Tree.” The name comes from a pine tree at Augusta that President Eisenhower hit so many times he threatened to have it cut down; the members, of course, declined. Aim your shot off the tee box to land slightly left of this tree, which stands in the middle of the fairway. From here, you will have a clean approach to the green.
Hole 18 | 545 yards, par 5
A long finishing hole for the back nine of the course requires two long shots and an accurate approach to the green. As with all the holes on the course, any shots straying slightly will be spirited away — many players feel those resting in the tombs are the culprits. This hole is one of the few with a wide landing area for your drive. The second shot will be greeted where the course narrows and then finished with the clubhouse behind.
Hole 1 | 518 yards, par 5
Regrouping after a couple of dismal holes, I gathered my strength and drove a clean shot to the middle right of the fairway. Two bunkers line either side of the fairway right where tee shots land. My second shot, a perfect hit with my Warbird 3-wood, landed at the feet of the foursome in front of us — a little calling card to keep up the pace of play, which was slow that day. A par was a nice recovery for the front nine.
Hole 2 | 377 yards, par 4
A kikia tree overhangs the fairway at the beginning of this hole, and I decided to drive through it; my ball turned and landed in position “A” of this dogleg left. As they say, “trees are 80 percent air,” although more than 20 percent of shots seem to hit wood. Several traps guard the green, which makes for an interesting approach.
Hole 3 | 445 yards, par 4
This hole has a slight dogleg left, but the driving opportunity is narrow and did me in. I hooked a ball so far left I couldn’t see Raja and could only locate him by the rustling of bushes. Once I recovered, I sent a shot to the right side of the green, pin high, and chipped close for a slight recovery. The hole is beautiful, as there is a large tomb directly behind the green. A birdie would be almost mystical.
Hole 8 | 518 yards, par 5
This par 5 is a dogleg right and, unlike most holes on the course, the drivable landing area is very generous. I followed the contour of the hole and landed on the right side of the fairway. From there, I took my trusty 3-wood and slapped a shot within 100 yards of the green for my last par in India.
The Delhi Golf Club
Dr. Zakir Hussain Road
New Delhi 110 003, India
tel 91 11 2430 7100
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