Lead Story

Teeing Off: The Subtle Draw of Golf Course Beyond the Game

Golfing destinations are not just for professional golfers. Their exquisite and serene locations provide a perfect opportunity for family holidays as well as corporate gatherings. While there are several popular international destinations that offer golf holidays, India is fast catching up

Photo: Bali National Golf Club

India’s golfing landscape exudes a vibrant allure, drawing professional players and avid travellers from near and far. The emergence of enthusiasts and skilled professional golfers within the country has taken the potential of golfing tourism in India to new heights. The sport is increasingly assuming a more significant role as a captivating factor for inbound travellers seeking a unique blend of leisure and competition. Golfing destinations are also becoming popular for their meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) offerings. From the backdrops of lush countryside courses to the modern splendour of urban golfing destinations, India presents an array of golfing experiences to suit every preference.

Hemant Mendiratta, chief executive officer of MICEverse, a destination marketing company, says, “The appeal of golfing destinations for MICE events stems from their ability to foster business connections in a relaxed setting. It creates a conducive environment for collaboration and team building, making it an ideal choice for corporate events.”

Golfing vacations all over the world have an irresistible allure for luxury travellers, thanks to the perfect blend of exceptional golf courses, opulent accommodations, indulgent spa facilities and gourmet dining experiences that they can treat themselves to. The value of global golf tourism market is projected to reach $23.1 billion in 2023, according to Future Market Insights data. “It is anticipated to reach a market valuation of $40.4 billion and a CAGR of 5.8% from 2023 to 2033,” Mendiratta adds.

A MICE Opportunity

As a favourable MICE destination, India, with 158 meetings, was at 28th place in the 2019 rankings released by the International Congress and Convention Association. With 200 meetings scheduled across 55 cities under India’s G20 presidency, the tourism sector is expected to add $56 billion to the country’s GDP.

However, it may be a while before golfing destinations in India can double up as MICE venues. Vasudha Sondhi, managing director at Om Tourism, a tourism representation company, says that golfing is not a part of MICE offering in India currently. “I do not think golf is part of MICE trips from India. Even domestically, MICE and golf are not mixed. Currently, golf is more specialised. There are very few golf specialist sellers in India,” she says.

She believes there is potential to develop the sector in India. “Thailand, which had a reasonable green fee even for championship courses, has become pricier, pushing golfers to look at other destinations,” she points out. However, she feels that destinations in India are not doing enough to woo golfers.

Dhruv Verma, founder of Thriwe, a benefit-as-a-service platform running loyalty and reward programmes for organisations, disagrees. He feels that India has improved considerably in its golfing offerings in the last five years with new golf courses being added to the existing list.

“Golf has evolved beyond solely associating with the affluent. Players now include young working professionals and entrepreneurs, both men and women, who possess substantial disposable income,” says Verma. Thriwe manages golf bookings across a network of 4,000 golf courses worldwide and 40 golf courses in India.


The Course Of Action

The insatiable excitement around golf fuels the demand for impeccably designed and amenity-rich golf destinations, setting new standards for luxurious indulgence offered by hospitality service providers. Here are a few popular golfing destinations in the country

Prestige Golfshire

Golf Association Course

Bangalore Golf Club


Bengaluru, also known as the “Silicon Valley of India”, is home to quite a few world-class golf courses. From the Karnataka Golf Association Course to the Bangalore Golf Club, golfers can indulge in top-tier amenities and well-designed courses. The pleasant year-round climate adds to the city’s charm, making it an ideal destination for golfers looking to challenge themselves in a cosmopolitan setting. The Prestige Golfshire course by the Prestige Group is a sprawling 275-acre project near Nandi Hills. It was adjudged India’s best golf course and club for the third consecutive year in 2022 by the World Golf Industry Association. The course offers golfers of all levels the ability to play from five different tee options on each hole. The club hosts the Prestige Master Series and Back on Black Tournament. Settled within is the enchanting JW Marriott Bengaluru Prestige Golfshire Resort & Spa.  

Naldehra Golf Course

Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

Nestled in the picturesque locales of Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, the Naldehra Golf Course is an oasis of tranquillity. Designed in 1920 by British Viceroy Lord Curzon, this historic course is surrounded by thick cedar forests, offering a scenic backdrop for an unforgettable game. The 18-hole course challenges golfers with its undulating fairways and tricky greens while treating them to panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Competitive events include the Stable Ford, One Club, Lucky Double and the prestigious Naldehra Open. The charming wooden cottages at Chalet Naldehra add to the serene experience of the guests staying here. One can also visit Shimla Mall Road for shopping and take a trip to Kufri for an exhilarating day in the foggy mountains.

Upat Golf Course

Ranikhet, Uttarakhand

The Upat Golf Course, located amid the enchanting hills of Ranikhet, is ideal for amateur golfing. One of the highest courses in Asia, it offers an ethereal experience with its delightful climate and the backdrop of the majestic Mount Nanda Devi. The peaceful surroundings and the clean mountain air provide the perfect setting to focus on the swing. While it no longer hosts tournaments, private bookings are available. Walk amid pine forests while here on holiday for a stunning nature experience. Day trips to Almora and Kausani are famous for their spectacular views of the Himalayan peaks.

Royal Calcutta Golf Club

Tollygunge Golf Club

Kolkata, West Bengal

The Royal Calcutta Golf Club in Kolkata is a historic gem, established in 1829 and recognised as the oldest golf club outside the United Kingdom. It hosts prestigious local and national-level tournaments. The Tollygunge Club Golf Course is another esteemed venue for golf enthusiasts. This course, which has an elegant layout, not only offers a challenge for players of all levels but is also a hub for social events.

Srinagar Golf Course

Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir

Srinagar Golf Course, located at an altitude of 5,200 feet, is an 18-hole golf course that offers a unique golfing experience with breathtaking views. It hosts the annual Kashmir Golf Championship which attracts professional golfers. From the lush landscapes to the iconic Dal Lake, Mughal Gardens and the vibrant old city, Srinagar offers a captivating blend of golfing, natural splendour and cultural exploration.

Delhi Golf Club

Jaypee Greens Golf Course

Arnold Palmer Signature Course

Gary Player 18-Hole Signature Course

ITC Classic Golf & Country Club

Delhi NCR

The Delhi Golf Club, with its prestigious history and stunning 27-hole layout, remains a favourite among golf aficionados. Additionally, the Jaypee Greens Golf Course in Greater Noida boasts an 18-hole championship course designed by former world champion Greg Norman. The DLF Golf & Country Club has two courses. The Arnold Palmer Signature Course, with a parkland-style design and floodlights, is the first to offer night golf. The par-36 course has staged the Women’s Indian Open, Avantha Masters and the Indian Open tours. The newer Gary Player 18-hole Signature Course has successfully staged the Women’s Indian Open and the Hero Men’s Indian Open.

The ITC Classic Golf & Country Club in Manesar, Haryana, comprises an 18-hole Signature Championship Course and a nine-hole Signature Canyon course alongside an impressive club house and a sprawling hotel, the ITC Grand Bharat. Designed by renowned golfer Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1998, this course remains one of the top spots for international tournaments and championships due to its suitability.

Hyderabad Golf Association Course

Hyderabad, Telangana

The Hyderabad Golf Association has a spectacular course within the Golconda Fort. The course, located in the premises of a nationally protected monument, with sustainable environment practices built to preserve the archaeological features, has won the National Tourism Award twice for the Best Tourism Friendly Golf Course in India.


Golfing Beyond India

Some exotic international locations have become synonymous with exceptional golfing opportunities. They combine breathtaking landscapes, world-class courses and luxurious amenities to provide a complete holiday-cum-sporting experience to visitors

St Andrews, Scotland

St Andrews, Scotland, is a pilgrimage for any devout golfer. Revered as the birthplace of golf, this historic town has the legendary Old Course, a masterpiece woven into the fabric of golf’s rich heritage. A round on these grounds is a humbling experience where golfers trace the footsteps of legends. Besides the Old Course (right), St Andrews offers a collection of equally remarkable courses that cement its position as a golfer’s paradise.

Pebble Beach, California, USA

When it comes to coastal golf, Pebble Beach on California’s Monterey Peninsula steals the spotlight. The iconic Pebble Beach Golf Links (below) showcases stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, with its rugged coastline adding to the challenge and appeal of the course, and is a dream destination for golfers worldwide. It has hosted several prestigious tournaments, including the PGA Tour for professional golfers.

Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand

Cape Kidnappers Golf Course, located near Cape Kidnappers in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, was designed by renowned golf architect Tom Doak. Perched atop dramatic cliffs, the course offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, providing golfers with an unforgettable sensory experience. This remote gem exudes a sense of seclusion, making every swing an intimate communion with nature. New Zealand also offers many off-course attractions. From exploring the stunning fjords of Milford Sound to embarking on thrilling adventure activities in Queenstown and immersing in the Maori culture, it is the perfect mix for a pleasant holiday.

Dubai, UAE

Dubai, known for its opulence and innovation, has become a haven for golf enthusiasts, with its year-round sunny weather. It has multiple golf courses designed by renowned architects. The Emirates Golf Club, known for its iconic Majlis Course, has hosted the prestigious Omega Dubai Desert Classic, attracting top professional golfers. The Jumeirah Golf Estates has the Earth Course, which hosts the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, part of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai. Beyond golf, Dubai offers a multitude of attractions and experiences. Visitors can explore the iconic Burj Khalifa, shop at extravagant malls and enjoy thrilling desert safaris. The city is renowned for its culinary scene, while luxury accommodations and spa resorts provide a perfect retreat after a day on the greens.


With its stunning landscapes, rich history and warm hospitality, Vietnam is rapidly emerging as an exciting golfing destination in southeast Asia. Its growing collection of world-class courses has been drawing golfers from foreign shores. The coastal city of Da Nang, with its pristine beaches and picturesque mountains, is a golfer’s paradise, hosting several top-rated courses. The Montgomerie Links and BRG Da Nang Golf Resort have gained international acclaim for their championship layouts and breathtaking backdrops. The Bluffs Grand Ho Tram Strip, designed by former professional golfer Greg Norman, has positioned itself as an exclusive golfing destination within a fast-growing entertainment district. It offers an 18-hole championship golf course in the mystical valleys alongside the Ho Tram beach. Capital Hanoi offers golfers courses like the Kings’ Island Golf Resort and the Sky Lake Resort & Golf Club, which promise a challenging and memorable game amid the lush countryside.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, nestled between the Indian and the Atlantic oceans, offers a golfing experience that encompasses stunning vistas and wildlife encounters. The Pearl Valley Golf Estate, designed by legendary golf course designer Jack Nicklaus, is surrounded by dramatic landscapes of the Western Cape, creating a setting of unparalleled beauty. Players may spot indigenous wildlife roaming the fairways, adding an element of adventure to their game. Cape Town’s golf courses provide a remarkable blend of nature, culture and sport.


Thailand, most international holidayers’ dream destination, combines breathtaking landscapes, luxurious accommodations and world-class golf courses in its offerings. Phuket and Hua Hin have emerged as the top golf destinations in the country, offering an unparalleled golfing experience amid stunning coastal backdrops. In Phuket, golf enthusiasts can take various top-notch courses by renowned architects. Heading north to Hua Hin, they can find royal heritage and sophisticated ambience among the several elite golf resorts.

Bali, Indonesia

Bali, another popular international travel destination, is ideal for MICE travellers. As the host of the G20 summit in 2022, the island had over 3.6 million visitors, delivering a solid impetus to the recovery of Indonesia’s tourism sector. The island’s pristine beaches offer opportunities for relaxation and water sports like surfing, snorkelling and diving. Host to well-designed golf courses surrounded by lush landscapes and a view of the Indian Ocean, Bali provides an exotic and enchanting golfing experience, even on family holidays. The Bali National Golf Club in Nusa Dua is a prestigious course designed by golf course architects Nelson & Haworth and offers a blend of challenging holes and scenic beauty. The New Kuta Golf is one of the most spectacular courses located on the southern shore. The Handara Golf Course, nestled in the crater of a dormant volcano, makes for a memorable holiday for travellers, including non-golfers.