Golf is the fastest growing sport in India. Even before the sport was accorded Olympic status from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, golf in India was on the upswing with many young boys and girls reveling in it.
Consequently, there are more youngsters, than middle-aged or older golfers playing at a few of India’s golf courses. This has resulted in the rise of world-class golfers, like young Shubhankar Sharma and Aditi Ashok, who, alongside dozens of other Indian men and women golfers, ply their trade across the globe in PGA, LPGA, European and Asian circuits.
Naturally, this rising popularity of the sport and the attendant spin-offs that go with it has not gone unnoticed.
Parallelly, it is true that tourism is one of the biggest foreign exchange earners for many countries. It is also a vibrant employment generator and the ripple effects from it act as a big boost to entire economies.
This being the case, many countries believe that golf attracts a better class of tourists whose per capita spend is greater than other hordes of tourists.
Thus many countries have embarked on innovative ways to give golf the boost that would make it a unique selling proposition. In this, almost all have tried to replicate Thailand’s successful model where the 300-odd golf courses spread over many cities are as much a draw as Thailand’s legendary service industry.
Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, China, Turkey, among others have tried this route with varying success.
But it is Mauritius that is an intriguing entrant into this world of golf. The island nation which lies to the south of Africa is tiny, going by Indian standards. It has a population of just 1.5 million with a majority of them of Indian origin. But there are substantial numbers from Africa, France, and Britain to make the mix a very vibrant one in terms of language, colour, cuisine, and deportment.
Their 10 golf courses are most definitely a labour of love simply because they have gone to painstaking lengths to enhance the already beautiful topography. In almost all golf courses they have tried to ensure that the magnificently brilliant backdrop of the radiantly blue Indian Ocean gives the golfers a never-to-be forgotten experience.
But we are jumping ahead of the tale.
Mauritius, in their bid to popularise their country as a golfing destination, organised the mother of all amateur club golf championships last month. Three hundred golfers from three major cities of India — Mumbai, New Delhi, and Bengaluru — battled it out on three golf courses before the grand finale was staged at the magnificently scenic Heritage Le Telfair Golf course earlier this week.
“But for the caddies strike at the Eagleton Golf Course in Bengaluru we’d have had over 400 golfers in the fray,” said a pleased as punch Vivek Anand, country manager, Mauritius Tourism.
However, when the time came to rack up the birdies and sink those challenging putts, Bengaluru’s young golfer Arjun Malik stayed a step ahead of competition from persevering golfers of Mumbai and Delhi.
“The course played long. I was more used to playing in the higher altitude of Bengaluru where the ball travels a bit. Also, strangely it seemed like we were hitting against the wind in almost all holes,” said the champion who received his prize at the 26th Annual World Travel Awards night at Sugar Beach Resort.
Then there was the distraction of the golf courses, especially Heritage Le Telfair where the breathtaking backdrop of the stunningly blue Indian Ocean was a constant companion on almost all tee-boxes, greens, and fairways. The vast open topography also brought the swirling winds into play. The elevations, deep ravines and trenches, not to speak of out-of-sight bunkers and hazards, made golf challenging.
Some of the greens too were elevated to the extent that golfers were unaware of either the greens' slope or what lay beyond the green. Those who went for the middle of the green found it a safer and wiser ploy.
But on all greens and tees, the underlying theme was the enhanced beauty of the course. In fact, even the Avalon Golf Course, which is nestled in the hills, provided for a spectacular view of the Ocean. Indeed you are never too far from the Ocean and golf in Mauritius is designed to constantly remind the golfer of the pristine beauty of mother nature.
The writer was in Mauritius on the invitation of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and played golf in some of the golf courses.
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Updated Date: Jun 07, 2019 16:05:07 IST