Green paradise
Donald Banerjee

Golf Destinations
By Ashwini Luthra and Chandni Luthra. Photos: Parvin Singh.
Asian Education Society, Chandigarh.
Pages 96. Price not mentioned.

CHANDIGARH has emerged as the undisputed golf nursery of the country with Jeev Milkha Singh climbing to occupy the highest slot in world golf ranking and Irina Brar remaining the country’s amateur "queen" of the greens for several years.

With the Chandigarh Golf Club having already made its mark in golf promotion, the tricity has now become a hub of golfing activity. The CGA Golf Range, adjacent to the Chandigarh Golf Club, the Panchkula Golf Club and the Mohali Hills Golf Course have contributed in making the tricity a golf destination.

Ashwini Luthra, who has been playing on the Chandigarh greens since 1998, felt the need to highlight the tricity greens and this gave birth to the idea of bringing out a coffee-table book Golf Destinations, which is a captivating pictoral walk through the challenging courses.

The idea of projecting Chandigarh as a golf destination on the lines of Thailand and Malaysia has been welcomed by golfers of the region.

Chandni Luthra, Ashwini’s wife and a former senior journalist, has pooled in with the text, and adding the pictorial flavour is travel photographer Parvin Singh.

Chandni Luthra has unfolded the development of golf in Chandigarh, Panchkula, Chandi Mandir and Mohali in her own inimitable style as a tourism writer. The 100-page volume is interspersed with anecdotes, snippets and golf jokes. Brought out by the Asian Education Society, this keepsake has been sponsored by the Chandigarh Golf Club, Chandigarh Golf Association, Panchkula Golf Club and Executive Golf Club, Mohali.

Hailing the tricity as golfers’ paradise, the writer takes the reader back to the early 1960s when the Chandigarh Golf Club came into being beside the Punjab Raj Bhavan and close to the Sukhna Lake. It makes interesting reading—from the oldest Chandigarh Golf Club to the latest Executive Golf Course in Mohali. The book gives an in-depth study of the flora and fauna on the Chandigarh golf course, which is unique. There is an extensive growth of trees, planted according to fundamental design principles.

In the chapter Walk the Course, the presenter has delved on each hole, starting with the par-4 first tee. The par-5 seventh is considered among the longest holes in Asia. The water hazard on the 18th is a new edition.

The Chandigarh Golf Club is one of the two courses in North India to have a floodlit nine-hole course where one can play at night on Fridays and special occasions. Even the fountains play with multi-coloured lights.

The next take is the Panchkula Golf Club, which is a challenging windy course with short trees and the Ghaggar River running alongside. It has a total of 72 pars on 123 acres. Four exceptionally challenging three-par holes add to the mystique of the course.

The Shivalik Golf Course in Chandi Mandir is considered one of the toughest golf courses in north India. In Chandni’s words: "It requires intelligent placement rather than raw power. Playing at this Army course is an exhilarating experience with spectacular views, tranquil water bodies and challenging fairways and greens."

The best thing about the tricity is the training facilities available at the CGA Golf Range, which houses the National Golf Academy of India. The city is one of the favourite destinations in the world for learning, practising and playing golf.

The photographs of the greens and vast courses make the book a collector’s item the full credit for which goes to Parvin Singh.