Golfers rejoice. We are in the midst of the peak golfing season. In November and December, there is so much happening it's hard to keep track.
The big one is the Surya Nepal Masters, sponsored for over a decade by Nepal's largest corporate house, Surya Nepal Pvt Ltd. Scheduled over five days from 8-12 December, the venue is once again the stunning Gleneagles designed Gokarna Golf Course.
A major attraction will be the arrival of the region's leading golfers, giving local talent the rare opportunity of competing with top players. Being a point-scoring event on the Amby Valley Air Sahara Indian Golf Tour, most players on the Indian Professional Golf tour circuit will be participating.
"This year, Nepal Tourism Board has joined as partner to promote golf in Nepal," says Sam Roy of Surya Nepal. "We are looking at promoting standards and helping golf grow. The plan is to target the over-100,000 existing golfing population in Southasia. Our promotion outside Nepal will be through tournament hoardings at 40 of the largest golf clubs in the region. The tournament will be telecast on Ten Sports channel in three half-hour viewings."
Standard Charted Bank has also joined hands this year by sponsoring the Pro-Am event. The Pro-Am is for both serious and fun-loving amateur golfers. Participants will have the opportunity to play in a group with professionals, receiving valuable tips and seeing firsthand some so-called 'impossible shots' being executed.
The Surya Nepal Masters is not just the biggest golfing event in Nepal, it is also probably the biggest sporting event in terms of prize money. The total purse this year is a whopping Rs 1.6 million. It will be up for grabs to some 80-odd professionals from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and a few tour regulars from Malaysia.
All this is exciting news with Surya Nepal realising our dreams of using the development of golf to the advantage of the tourism industry. They are building on the foundation of the expensive golf infrastructure and opening up new dimensions for growth in golf tourism.
So what else is happening?
Scheduled this weekend is the prestigious 'amateur only' golfing event, the Nepal Amateur Open 2004 at the Royal Nepal Golf Club. This three-day 54-hole event concludes on Sunday with an interclub friendship match.
Next week sees a four-day 72-hole preparatory tournament for both professionals and top amateurs - providing the perfect occasion to tune up for serious tournament play before the Surya Nepal Masters. Last week's Surya Nepal Western Open at the Himalayan Golf Course in Pokhara saw professionals Deepak Neupane stand first (+7), Deepak Magar second (+12), and Ramesh Nagarkoti third (+13). Not great scores but the course was set up beautifully.
Golf is happening everywhere, isn't it time you got on the course?
Deepak Acharya is a golf instructor and Head Golf Professional at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu. [email protected]