Those of us who have lived in Kathmandu have had the privilege of being able to play golf. That same opportunity was not available in Pokhara.
Golf in Pokhara has quite a short history. It was not long ago that ex-British Gorkha officer Maj Ram Bahadur Gurung envisioned spreading golf to more places in Nepal, and what better place than his favourite city, Pokhara.
After retiring from the army and returning to Nepal, he gathered support from his ex-colleagues in the army and local friends. In 1994 the Himalayan Golf Course was established in Pokhara. For those who have yet to lay their eyes on this masterpiece, you will be astounded to learn that the Himalayan Golf Club is possibly one of the most adventurous and amazing golf courses in the world.
With the stunning backdrop of Mt Annapurna, fairways spread next to Bijayapur Khola and the views of the 100m deep gorge within and around which the course lies, the encounter is simply stunning. Any golfer living in or visiting Nepal who doesn't take time out to play this most exquisitely set golfing experience is missing a chance of a lifetime.
The launching of the Himalayan Golf course opened up a new opportunity for those in the area. For quite a while, interest remained mostly with ex-British Gorkha officers and a few hardcore locals. That was until 1999, when Surya Nepal showed its commitment to promoting sports by announcing a new local professional golfing event, the Surya Nepal Western Open.
The arrival of top local professional golfers and the extensive publicity generated by Surya Nepal created quite an impression and impact. I have witnessed a steady growth of golf in Pokhara over the years. We now regularly see new faces around the clubhouse with a golf club in hand.
Subsequently, a few other golfing facilities were developed. The well known Yeti Golf Course at the Fulbari Resort & Spa should spring right to mind.
Growing interest amongst the golfing community and the game's die-hards also resulted in the establishment of a practice driving range in the heart of the city. Their aim was to improve their own game and to provide a perfect learning opportunity for new aspirants. This easily accessible range is a 15-minute drive from any part of the city, and having such a facility in town is a real asset and luxury.
Without a doubt Pokhara is a famous tourist destination in Nepal. With this added facet of golfing, I feel we just need to let the world know, we will be adding a new dimension to our tourism.
This year again, Surya Nepal continues its commitment of sports development with the two-day, 36 hole Surya Nepal Western Open 2004 tournament which will be played over 19-20 November.
As always we expect to see a crowd of people at the Himalayan Golf Course, especially on the exciting final on Saturday. Take this once-a-year chance to witness the event and perhaps meet some friends there who will induct you into the game.
For more information call 986021150.
Deepak Acharya is a golf instructor and Head Golf Professional at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu. [email protected]