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Willingdon Sports Club: A slice of history, a testing golf course

Willingdon Sports Club: A slice of history, a testing golf course

Sunday’s BT Golf Mumbai venue promises to be an interesting and testing one for a packed field of by invitation-only golfers

Sunday’s BT Golf Mumbai venue promises to be an interesting and testing one for a packed field of by invitation-only golfers Sunday’s BT Golf Mumbai venue promises to be an interesting and testing one for a packed field of by invitation-only golfers

Sunday’s second leg of Business Today Golf 2023 will be played at one of India’s most interesting venues, in terms of history alone, if nothing else.

The Willingdon Sports Club, which began life in 1918 with the ‘Royal’ prefix, was established by the then Governor of Bombay Presidency, Lord Willingdon as a reaction to the “no natives” policies of existing clubs like the Bombay Gymkhana and others when he wanted to take a member of an Indian royal family out as a guest.

Since then, though, the Willingdon Sports Club, WSC, has evolved into one of Mumbai’s most exclusive social destinations, somewhat at odds with the reasons for its existence in the first place, but one that promises a memorable day out for a packed field at BT Golf’s Mumbai tournament on Sunday, January 29.

Located opposite the city’s race course and the Royal Western Indian Turf Club and adjacent to Haji Ali, the 18-hole golf course at Willingdon was laid out and opened in 1933 and adds to a host of sports facilities lie a swimming pool tennis and badminton courts and a health club.

Though less than 5,000 yards in length the WSC course is reputed to be a testing one and will provide BT Golf tournament participants some interesting times, even those used to its peculiarities and quirks.

The layout is a tight one and accuracy is always a valuable asset on such golf courses, especially one liberally endowed with a tree cover, hazards aplenty and speedy greens.

One overseas golf website even made a mention of the number of “grass bunkers” that dot the layout and the difficulty of navigating past trees located in the middle of a few fairways.

Less talked about are the “cross holes” where fairways intersect at a few points on the course, notably the 12th hole that cuts across the 10th, 11th and 13th fairways, the same site added.

Course layout (from blue tees)

Front nine: Hole 1 435 yds par 4, Stroke Index 5; Hole 2 176 yds par 3, SI 15; Hole 3 287 yds par 4, SI 13; Hole 4 293 yds par 4, SI 9; Hole 5 252 yds par 4, SI 11; Hole 6 147 yds par 3, SI 17; Hole 7 471 yds par 5, SI 1; Hole 8 200 yds par 3, SI 7; Hole 9 270 yds par 4, SI 3. Total: 2531 yds. Par 34. Gold tees: 2377 yards. Ladies tees: 2233 yards.

Back nine: Hole 10 195 yds par 3, SI 12; Hole 11 267 yds par 4, SI 8; Hole 12 155 yds par 3, SI 10; Hole 13 219 yds par 3, SI 2; Hole 14 179 yds par 3, SI 14; Hole 15 273 yds par 4, SI 6; Hole 186 yds par 3, SI 16; Hole 17 504 yds par 5, SI 4; Hole 18 126 yds, par 3, SI 18. Total: 2104 yds. Par 31. Gold tees: 1971 yards. Ladies tees: 1826 yards.

Features: Longest hole, the 17th, 504 yards, par 5; Shortest hole, the 18th, 126 yards, par 3, Toughest hole, the 7th, 471 yards, par 5.

Total yardage: 4635 (blue), 4348 (gold), 4059 (ladies). Par 65.

Published on: Jan 24, 2023, 11:30 AM IST
Posted by: Priya Raghuvanshi, Jan 24, 2023, 11:27 AM IST