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Thursday, July 28, 2011

THE KGF GOLF CLUB / GYMKHANA CLUB

The KGF Golf / Gymkhana Club was established by the British Mining Company John Taylor and Sons in 1885 with a 12 Hole Golf Course and a Beautiful Victorian Club House. The Club House was equipped with a traditional bar, a library, a ballroom with a sprung floor, snooker and billiard rooms and tennis courts, which were all built and completed in a period of just six months. This Club was the first club to be established in KGF and is ranked as the 4th oldest Golf Club in India. It had its own Polo, Golf and Hockey teams, In those days, the club was totally out of bounds for the Indians, and only the British and Europeans could become members. The Club house and the 12 Hole Golf Course was built in just 6 months by the vast labour force in KGF at that time.

Because of the hilly terrain of KGF, the 12 Hole Golf course was located in a winding treeless landscape. Unlike other Golf courses which have Putting Greens the KGF Golf Club had no Putting Greens. Instead it had ‘Browns’ constructed of river sand in place of greens.

The KGF Club House has a regal Colonial ambience. The old Club house that is more than a century old, was built of stone quarried from the area itself. It had strong dark teak wood doors and windows with solid brass handles, hinges and knobs. These handles and knobs were constantly polished by the club servants in those days and shone like gold. These fittings as well as the sterling silver cutlery and the beautiful crockery with the Club’s emblem were all brought specially from England, when the club was constructed by the British.


The KGF Club also had the distinction of having an exclusive “Ladies Bar” just off the main lounge. The British and European ladies made good use of this lounge and enjoyed their drinks while catching up with the latest news and exchanging gossip with their friends.. The Ladies lounge also had a huge grand piano and the ladies invariably gathered around it singing all the old songs and ballads while one of them played the piano. The club was surrounded by a beautiful garden with well maintained sprawling lawns and flower beds. The serene surroundings with the golf course on the side looked like a picture from an old English Countryside.

The foyer of the club has many deer and bison heads on its walls. There are also a number of framed photographs of all the old Superintendents and Chairmen of the Mines starting with Mr. John Taylor in the lounge of the club. Besides these there are a lot of other photographs as well.


One particular faded sepia print of smiling Britishers standing around an iron bucket on one of the walls of the lounge draws one’s attention. The old Bar man Susairaj was often willing to share the story behind this photograph to anyone who was interested in listening even if it meant repeating the story any number of times.


According to Susairaj’s story, when the KGF Golf Club came into existence, and a new club house was built, and the 12 Hole Golf Course was laid, the Club hosted the first KGF Gymkhana Golf Tournament. However the organizers forgot to arrange for a suitable Trophy for the first Tournament. It was quite an embarrassing moment when it was time to award the winner and there was no trophy to be given. They just improvised by using an old cast iron bucket with the words ‘The Cup’ painted on it. The old picture is of the winning team posing with the trophy of the very first tournament.

Like the rest of KGF, there are visible signs of deterioration in this once prestigious Club. The Bar is not so well stocked now and soft drinks are served in a bottle with a drinking straw and paper napkins. The snacks and short eats that the club was so famous for in the old days have been replaced with small packets of store bought nuts and fries. The mounted Antlers and Horns still adorn the foyer of the club. However, the beautiful garden surrounding the Club has disappeared, the grand Piano in the erstwhile ‘Ladies Bar’ now lies unused and in need of repairs. The brass door knobs and handles no longer shine, the beautiful crockery and cutlery with the Club’s monogram have all disappeared and now replaced with ordinary ones.

The Club still has almost 600 members on the rolls. The members still enjoy their rounds of Golf and visit the Club for a game of Billiards and Snooker and enjoy a drink in the not so well stocked Bar!!!

3 comments:

WinXc said...

interesting facts to know..

Bridget White-Kumar said...

Thanks

dr adharsh said...

Really nice to know so many things from the past about the place I live in. Thank you very much.