the-south-asian Life & Times                   April - June 2009



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 Editor's Note

 Cover Story
 Rajmata Gayatri

City Escapes
 Gurgaon's Hidden

 Pataudi Palace



 Tikli Bottom


 Cruising along


 Elephant - icon of
 new style

 Photo Essay

 Elephant Festival
 of Jaipur


 Iqbal Hussain

 World's First
 Climate Refugees
 of Sunderbans


 Most Spectacular
 Himalayan Golf

 Gulmarg Golf Club

 Royal Springs,

 Naldehra Golf Club

 Himalayan Golf
 Course, Pokhara

 Royal Thimphu
 Golf Club, Bhutan




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The Royal Thimphu Golf Club, Thimphu (Bhutan)

Holes – 9 – (Different set of tees on back-nine for those who want to play 18)

Length – 2700 yards

Par 33

Green Fees US$50 (One-day unlimited golf)

Facilities – Restaurant, Pro-shop, club rental

The narrow fairways of this 35-year-old Himalayan course, surfaced a great underdog success story from Bhutan last year – Ziwang Gurung, a 16-year-old boy who worked here as a caddy and hit shots in his free time, was sent to Vietnam for a qualifier for the Faldo Series, the World Cup of junior golf, in September. He finished second in the 12- to 15-year-old division, and will now play in the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final in China in March (25th to 27th).

Rick Lipsey, in 2002, during a sabbatical from Sports Illustrated, began work at the Royal Thimphu Golf Club as its first instructor – to teach its 100 members. In his book Golfing on the Roof of the World, Rick Lipsey writes about the course and the club, "I've played a lot of golf. I've played the holes hard by the Pacific Ocean at Pebble Beach and in Amen Corner at Augusta National. The sights and sounds here, though, were unlike anything I'd experienced on a golf course. In one sense, the atmosphere was otherworldly and distinctly Himalayan. There were eagles soaring overhead and cavernous and lushly wooded mountains rising vertically to the sky around us. Horns from monks praying at a nearby monastery were blaring. The course was next to the gargantuan Thimphu dzong, a fortlike structure housing Bhutan's top government and religious officials. As we stood on the tee at the 120-yard downhill par-three first hole, gleaming right ahead of us and less than one hundred yards behind the green was a golden spire atop a regal-looking building that resembled a big monastery.

There were also some amusing Bhutanese touches. One was a local rule printed on the scorecard: "A ball lying within one club length around the tree can be dropped without penalty, no closer to the hole. If the golfer plays and hits the tree with his/her club, the player will automatically be disqualified." Protecting the natural environment is a key facet of Buddhism, which is the foundation of Bhutanese culture and its state religion, but I never expected to see the Buddhist mores in force at the golf course. I also heard men in the clubhouse talking about a tournament that is definitely unique to Bhutan: the Yak Open. The event, held every couple of years at Royal Thimphu, awards parts of a yak—raw and unskinned—to the winners."














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