It is now a 24-odd year old snapshot in the mind. ITC’s Landbase India had just completed work on a Jack Nicklaus signature 27-hole golf course out in the boondocks of Haryana’s Mewat region, and a group of journalists was invited to visit the facility. So we turned off the highway leading to Jaipur and bumped our way up a patchy track headed into what seemed to be the backward of beyond.
In 1998, the Aravallis were still under attack by the rock and sand mining industry, and as we drove deeper into the hinterland, all there was to see was hills being eaten into, stone-crushers grinding away and throwing up clouds of stone dust. It must also have been the dry season, for the flatland between two lines of low hills were either brown scrub or scraggy, withered fields all coated in grey dust.
After what seemed to be hours of rattling through one nondescript village after another, we turned a corner to confront a shockingly green vista. Amidst the spread of dry, dun fields and rocky hills, it spread out like a cool, green meadow with dots of water glittering in the sun. To this day, I carry in the mind that first impression – of a green emerald in a pile of stone and dust.
Today, the trees surrounding the course have grown green and tall, the vast spread of the ITC Grand Bharat imposes itself on the vista and dwarfs the course, the road off the highway is tarred and smooth, and the drive a swift one; but the memory of that jade-green shard in a field of grey remains sharp and clear.
On Sunday, the Classic Golf and Country Club will host Business Today Golf’s first event of the 2022-23 season, and the course is set to welcome an enthusiastic field of hundred-plus golfers who will battle it out on the Ridge and Valley section of Jack Nicklaus’s first venture into South Asia. The Golden Bear, as he was universally known, designed a 27-hold layout for Landbase India, 18 of them comprising the championship course and the nine-hole Canyon course that lies parallel to the front nine of the main layout.
The championship course plays over 7,114 yards, while the Canyon Course course plays to about 3,135. It is a friendly course with wide fairways, large fairway bunkers, mostly shallow greenside sand-traps and a handful of water bodies. The one thing to mind is the rough bordering the fairways that can ruin the best-intentioned shots.
The natural layout of the Aravalli Range was well used to create an undulating parkland-style course that also incorporated some testing greens and sloping roughs. All this combines to give the recreational golfer the full range of trials, tribulations and triumphs a good golf course should offer and first-time BT Golf participants at the Classic Golf and Country Club can look forward to an outing to remember on Sunday.
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