Golfing aficionados from clubs across the country headed to the valley’s famous golf resort Gulmarg in the early part of the century till the early eighties. In the month of June several eminent families donated trophies to keep the fashionable players motivated to be back each year. As youngsters watching the gentry of golfers play several tournaments one had to find inroads to the fine sport that attracted the noble.
Since it was virtually impossible to buy golf balls in the country a quick past time was to spend time in the shallow water streams that flowed through the breathtakingly beautiful mountain golf course looking for strayed balls. More often than not golf balls found were badly cut but could be used for a few holes.
As the years went by the golf course at Gulmarg underwent a change in layout, thereafter with limited access to the valley during troubled times, a new golf course was built in Srinagar nestled in the Zabarwan hills. Pahalgam a beautiful hamlet 90 kilometers south of Srinagar, known more for its trout fishing streams and Punjabi food is blessed to have a stunning golf course opened as a public course two years ago.
The Lidder Valley Golf Course as it was named by two years ago is situated on a potato farm atop a plateau but for long had no water supply. A two year engineering feat to pull the water supply to the 200 meter elevation resulted in a magnificent golf course. A pristine golf course with water bodies, matured pine trees and scenic beauty comparable to courses in Europe and the Far East.
The Lidder Valley Golf course has some challenging golf holes created for skilful players. Although a ban on construction over the last two years lead to a delay in commissioning of a club house for players and on course wash room facilities, this has not deterred the spirit of golfers who have been visiting the course from end of April.
The course has been playable with the greens in top condition; players who have been able to test their skills at this new course over the past six weeks have been in awe of their experience.
Younger talented players training for international tournaments must be taken to practise on courses like Lidder Valley Golf Course to hone their skill on its fine hilly terrain and immaculate greens.
Champika Sayal is the Secretary General of Women’s Golf Association of India and a big supporter of the game of golf