Clubs are expected to be snobby. They are expected to keep membership-hopefuls waiting in their shining oxford shoes and pocket squares. The more exclusive they are, the more coveted they be. Three such, where the rich flock to, are the Delhi Golf Club, DLF Golf and Country Club, and The Delhi Gymkhana Club. Memberships here will cut you back by a few million.
The one that tops the list, without a doubt, is the Delhi Golf Club. This club was a municipal course in the early 1930s. Two decades later, on February 24, 1950, it became a corporate entity. The Course has the championship 18-hole Lodhi Course, part of the Asian PGA Tour, and the shorter nine-hole Peacock Course. The latter was laid when the course was re-designed by Peter Thomson in 1976-77.
Half a century ago, the club had faced the axe. By 1948, the number of golf players had dropped to 80, the reason was the inadequate financial support for the upkeep of the course. The municipality gave an ultimatum to Delhi golfers: fund a self-supporting club with a minimum of 120 members, or the course will be closed. The challenge was accepted and the Delhi Golf Club came into being in 1951.
The club, which was once resurrected, can today afford to be choosy. It offers a corporate membership to companies with a minimum annual turnover — Rs.2.5 billion and above for manufacturing units, and Rs.250 million and above for consulting companies. The fee is Rs.4 million plus taxes, for two nominees, who should be golfers, for a period of five years. In addition to this, there is a monthly subscription charge.
The second on the list is the oldest, with a history that goes back to the 1930s. The contract for The Delhi Gymkhana building was given to architect Robert T Russell. Russel’s other two buildings are landmarks in the city: the Connaught Place and the commanders-in-chief’s residence, which later came to be known as Teen Murti House, where India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru lived. Russell wanted the design of the club to complement the bungalows that were coming up across the road. His drawings of the main building, the residential areas, and even the servant quarters reflect a Spartan yet majestic aesthetic. In fact, Russell remained involved in the club’s management and refurbishment until the 1930s as a member of the general committee.
The work was given to one of the bigger contractors of New Delhi, Sir Teja Singh Malik, and the main building rose with a gravel path leading to the front and a swimming bath close to Safdarjung Road. The CAO of the club, Hansraj Parihar, says, “From restaurants and bars, to library, five lobbies and a ballroom, the club provides ample space to our members and their visiting guests.” Membershipfeehere is Rs.1.8 million.
The last club on the list is the DLF Golf and Country Club. The entrance to this sprawling property is ringed by greenery, with Aravallis in the background. The pride of this place is its sports complex with its various facilities including tennis and squash courts, horse riding grounds, a swimming pool with a swim-up bar and three splash pools for kids, gymnasium, health club and of course the clubhouse that serves mouth-watering grub. The membership fee is attractive too. Unlike other clubs that start off at an exorbitant charge, DLF Country and Golf Club’s highest priced membership is Rs.1.6 million plus an additional nominee fee of Rs.800,000.
True, it is not easy entry to these clubs. But newer ones such as DLF Golf and Country club are where one can always try their luck. After all, with so many exotic facilities provided, it is money well spent.