Thursday, September 25, 2014
One of the landing approaches to the airport at Meenambakkam takes the aircraft over Guindy. Once upon a long time ago, Guindy used to be thickly forested. It still boasts of one of the smallest national parks in the world (and also one of the few completely contained within a city). Institutions nearby - the IIT Madras and the Raj Bhavan (the governor's residence) retain enough of tree cover for the air passenger to look out and see a green carpet.
Which is suddenly broken by this stretch of grassland. Forming a rough, round-cornered triangle, it has long patches of green and brown. Well, that is one of Chennai city's three golf clubs; this one is run by the Madras Gymkhana, which started off their golf links on Island Grounds before moving to this location sometime around 1887. Even though they have moved inland from their original location, the course is still styled as links.
It is a 6690 yard, par 72 course. Though it was only a 9 hole course when it started off, it graduated through 14 and 16 holes before becoming a full fledged 18-hole course. Given the nature of the terrain - with its scrub jungle pedigree - it was a course where players played off the browns for nearly a century. It was only in the 1980s that the transformation to greens began; as you can see, the browns are not giving up so easily. Despite being small and treeless, it is supposedly a tough course to play on, thanks to the narrow fairways, challenging roughs and swirling winds. If that is not enough, you will also be distracted by horses running around - this is probably the only golf club in the world that is fully ensconced within a horse race track!