Nepali Times
Tee Break
Swinging it in ’05


If your New Year's resolution is to learn a new sport, golf is just about as good as it gets. It is relaxing, focused and challenging. And it's not just for retired international civil servants, ex-generals and ambassadors either. More and more young people have been bitten by the golf bug. Many think that it is an elitist game and therefore steer clear of the greens believing it will cost a lot. Not so.

Over the two decades I've been golfing, I've noticed that most golfers begin showing an interest through friends or relatives who golf. Rarely will you meet someone who began on their own initiative. This could be attributed to the lack of awareness about what the game is really about and also, how to get started. Where are the clubs and facilities?

Golf, like any other sport, can be fun. Anybody, old or young can enjoy golfing. Though it is not as fast-paced and sudden like some sports, it still requires a degree of fitness to play the game socially. You have to walk fairly briskly for over eight km every four-hour round you play and doing this regularly definitely makes you fitter.

Though golf is still not available throughout Nepal, we do have nine facilities in four cities: four in Kathmandu, three in Pokhara, and one each in Dharan and Nawalparasi. Golf can be learnt in all these places. The two driving ranges (one in Pokhara and the other in Kathmandu) are built to help those already playing to improve, and encourage newcomers to start the game. The golf courses all have their own driving or practice facilities with dedicated golf professionals teaching the game.

To learn golf quickly and properly, one needs to take professional coaching. If not, progress is slow and bad habits develop, which can later be very difficult to correct. Additionally, the game has comprehensive rules and etiquette which you are expected to know and follow. The basics of these are taught during golf lessons.

All you really need to start playing golf are a pair of sports shoes, comfortable clothes and if your hands are a little soft from inactivity, you may require a golf glove that can be bought at the golf practice facilities. Next is a quick phone call to one of the golf instructors at a golfing facility. Make an appointment for your first one-hour lesson, and show up on time. That's it!

Usually included in the cost of the lesson, which will be around the Rs 500 range, the instructor will provide the golf clubs and practice balls. You may be surprised at how 'not easy' and how tired you are after just an hour of practice of this so-called 'old man's game'.

No more reasons for procrastinating. Get out into the bright sunshine, clean air and take up a sport that brings you in touch with nature and yourself. 2005 might just be your golfing year!

Deepak Acharya is a golf instructor and Head Golf Professional at Gokarna Forest Golf Resort & Spa, Kathmandu.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)