It’s hard to believe that the Golf clubs made it to Nepal over a century ago! In 1917 Rana Prime minister’s delegation, returning from Scotland, brought the golf clubs home. They started playing in ‘Gaurcharan’, a grazing field for cows where the present day International Airport’s runway is located. The access to the sport was limited to Royal family members and Rana Generals. It is believed that they played in 18 holes at that time, with sand and oil/tar based greens (so called browns).
Needless to say, the history of Golfing is much older than the history of Tourism in Nepal. Can Golf help Nepali Tourism industry in its effort to bounce forward after the COVID’s devastating impact? The answer will be a huge YES.
It is almost the best kept secret from the world that Nepal has got over 5 golf courses from 09 to 18 holes. In Jan 2018 ESPN aired a documentary on Golfer Pratima Sherpa which received encouraging publicity on a Golf tour in Nepal. Pratima also got an opportunity to meet Tiger Woods and she even received lessons from the living legend.
Nepali golfers created a history by playing one-hole golf at the Kongde Ri, at an altitude of 4,250 metres, in the Everest region. Bikash Rana hit the first tee shot on the 95-yard par-3 hole in Kongde Ri in the first phase of the Ncell Baahrakhari Golf Tournament in 2019.
“Nepal offers practically one of the best climatic conditions for Golf in the world. You can enjoy the game round the year. Gokarna Forest Resort, the nation’s best course, is set inside a preserved forest and can witness 100s of deers and monkeys sprawling on the fairways. Nepal truly offers exotic experience for Golf” – Deepak Acharya – Golf Director, Gokarna Forest Resort
David Kidd of Gleneagles Golf Developments pitted his skills against those of nature, creating a golf masterpiece. Gokarna Golf course is spread over 140 acres at 4,550 ft. above sea level, the 6,755 yards par 72 course boasts the one of the few bent-grass greens on an 18 hole course in South and South East Asia
One can also enjoy the view of snow capped mountains from the golf courses against the backdrop of Mt. Fishtail while playing the Himalayan Golf course Pokhara, 210 km southwest of Kathmandu valley.
Recently Thailand welcomed the first group of golfers from South Korea marking the official launch of a special quarantine programme for golfers. Nepal and other destinations can learn a great deal from this interestingly unique product.
The pre-COVID growth trends of the golf industry are strengthening its potential to become a vehicle for competitive and sustainable tourism in the world. With the right amount of resources and the naturally favored weather in Nepal this could home players and opportunities from all over the globe. The centuries and stories behind this sport could not be enjoyed anywhere more than in front of the Himalayas!