Royal Calcutta Golf Club affectionately known as the "Royal" is synonymous with the game of golf in this country. Founded in 1829, Royal is the oldest golf club outside the British Isles. The oldest being the Royal and Ancient, St. Andrews in Scotland, the home of golf. The golfing heritage and history of Royal makes this a truly hallowed place for the game of golf.
Originally located near the Calcutta airport, the club moved to the Maidan and finally to its present location at Tollygunge in 1910. Meant exclusively for the use of gentlemen, ladies were very reluctantly admitted to the club in 1886, when the committee voted 43 against 13 on the condition that female members be allowed to use the course only in the mornings.
The area over which the Royal Calcutta course is laid, was originally paddy fields, and the course is consequently very undulating. Successive committees built mounds and planted thousands of trees and shrubs to enhance the beauty of the property. However, Royal's conspicuous features are its strategically located water tanks and natural water hazards. Greens at Royal are quite large by modern standards and their undulations make them tricky. The par fours and long and challenging to score on where approach shots require long and medium irons to be hit which test the skills of all the golfers.
No records are available until 1874. However, thereafter all records have been preserved especially Cups, Medals and Trophies that were presented to and exchanged between the Royal and Golf Club of Madras, Bangalore as well as other clubs abroad. One of the notable ones being the Silver Cashmere Cup presented to the Royal and Ancient, St. Andrews in 1885.
In one of the minutes dated 8th February, 1876, it is recorded that the winner of the Royal Blackheath Medal was awarded a cup valued Rs. 25/- and a golf set priced at Rs. 9/-. The expenses for running the club were Rs. 720/- as salaries for staff for twelve months, Rs. 100/- for sundry expenses and the estimated stock of liquor at the closing of accounts was Rs. 200/- which must have represented quite an extensive stock of liquor in the cellar.
The Maidan Pavilion was opened sometime in January, 1885 and a fine bowling green was laid down in 1887. The first Amateur Golf Championship of India was held at the Royal during Christmas time in the year, 1892 with players from Ceylon, Burma, Penang and Singapore taking part. While the registered office of the Club continues to be at the Maidan, the work on the course at the present location, started in 1908 and all 18 holes were opened for play in 1912. Membership of the Club stood at 420 in 1892, 1770 in 1931 and stands at over 2900 today. A milestone in the Club's history was the election of the first Indian Captain Kamal Kumar Mitra Esq. in the year 1963. Royal being the first golf club in India is where the game of golf was introduced and started in the country. Royal has encouraged the local lads working as caddies to become some of the best professionals in the country. Apart from this Royal has produced some of the finest amateurs and professional golfers in India.
Royal is essentially a golf club and has maintained that character over the years. A substantial effort has been put in over the last decade to enhance the course both on the design and beautification fronts and now Royal is considered to be one of the finest golf courses not only in India but also in Asia. The par 72 course is long and challenging for both the amateurs and professionals alike.
The Royal has been a very popular venue for many prestigious amateur and professional events including our very own Indian Open. Many a renowned International golfers have walked the fairways of Royal – the most significant ones being – Walter Hagen, Pamela Barton, Peter Thompson, Payne Stewart, Charles Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen amongst others. Our own greats – I.S. Malik, H.S. Malik, Billoo Sethi, Ashok Malik, ‘Bunny’ Lakshman Singh, Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, Jyoti Randhawa, SSP Chawrasia and Anirban Lahiri have all been a part of the Royal golfing heritage and history!