I fail to reconcile that I am golfing in an ‘environmental park and training area’ and not on a golf course. Some say it is a subterfuge while to some it is ‘chalta hai’. To everyone I say it is a mockery of our values and morals, especially when we have lived our lives calling a spade with no other nomenclature, but a spade. Maybe, that the issue ends with a few critical observations and haplessness or maybe ‘I have done my bit, to hell with it.’ And this has lingered for over six decades! The consequences have been?

Stretch of open spaces lined with trees inviting fresh unpolluted air and breathing space are littered in most of our cantonment areas. Most of these have ‘golf courses’ plonked over them in various shapes and sizes. To most amateur golfers these are welcome source of physical and mental release and enjoyment and companionship. But then to those who are expected to maintain these it is a slugfest and unnerving. On arid and parched surface the grass has to grow to densities and thickness to suit and meet the rigid requirements throughout the year and also interspersed patches of large quantities of fresh sand fillings recycled frequently.  The administrative requirements of the club house and the bar and culinary needs of members are the other essentials. All this and much more is required and done on each of these ‘golf courses’. But then in the eyes of law and governance the ‘golf course’ is an unauthorized encroachment on defense land earmarked for ‘environment park and training areas’ In a nut shell we are breaking the law and this over last six decades! And we are fully aware! Again to most of us it is ‘Chalta Hai’.

But is it the same to those responsible for maintaining these ‘golf courses’? From personal experience it is totally taxing and mainly demeaning.

To start with basics, as with choosing the appropriate architect to plan and design a golf course project, it is also important to select a competent and respected builder. It is essential that the course builder work well with the rest of team and in concert with the selected architect to realize the vision for the course. Constructing a course is a highly specialized and technical affair. The decisions made in this phase will last a lifetime, so it’s essential that the job is done right from day one. Ultimately, for completed construction to match intended design it is important for the golf course architect and the golf course builder to interact and remain in constant contact during the various phases of construction How many of our golf courses have been designed by an appropriate architect and developed by a competent builder? Most of our courses have come up ad hoc using labor and machinery not meant for this purpose and hence the perennial bleeding problems.

The first thing to realize about golf course turf maintenance is that you are moving away from the low to medium maintenance level to high maintenance. What does that mean? Well, most home lawns are kept at a height of 2 to 3 inches, which means most lawns are cut not more than once a week, and able to survive without fertilizer, pesticides or other cultural practices. Probably the next most important part of golf course turf maintenance is cutting. Greens really should be cut at least 6 times a week. Tees and fairways can go from twice to 4 times per week. All these require manpower, machinery and equipment. Again we resort to ad hocism, modifying our existing plant and machinery or using cost effective substitutes. The result is for all to observe and to accept the misery of playing on fairways and putting on greens with semblance of green grass.

. Golf courses use high pressure to be able to move a lot of water fast so they are able to water the large acreage they have. On average, turf needs 1 inch (25mm) of water a week during summer. We get into true golf irrigation with buried pipes, electrical valves, and pop-up sprinkler heads which also provide   the most important part of golf course turf maintenance, aeration. The normal supply of water in most cantonments is restricted and in any case prohibited for use on the course, this water shortage is made up by the bore wells, buried pipes, sprinklers etc, Where and how do we get these? We are aware that in most cases other means are resorted to, but then again are we on the right foot?

I will not proceed any further with the other organizational, financial and maintenance issues, but certainly would  seek to highlight that by resorting to ad hoc and simplistic solutions to run a golf course we are at variance with our own conscientious beliefs and philosophy. We identify the popular need but fail to fulfill it justifiably.

What then? Well the writing is on the wall! Let the Golf courses become playing fields officially, after all a driver does the same as the hockey stick with the ball, their size notwithstanding! The hole on the green may be diminutive compared to a field goal but the purpose is the same, to receive the ball! And above all it is an entertainment enjoyed by young, middle and the aged!

Incidentally, most of us do have our bad days on the course, we fret, fume, curse and when no one is watching, some shift the lie of the ball favorably!  OLQ quo vadis!?

Not withstanding the above, please hole it now and finally!