Gymkhana Club, Chennai
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|Location||Guindy, Chennai, India|
The Gymkhana Club is one of the two 18-hole golf courses in Chennai, India. It was established in the 1884. The club boasts of one of the oldest golf courses in Asia. In 2009, the then Governor of Tamil Nadu Surjit Singh Barnala released a coffee-table book, 'The Glory Years,' commemorating 125 years of the Madras Gymkhana Club.
In April, 1884 that a select gathering of distinguished colonial gentleman founded the "Gymkhana Club" on the Island grounds. It was then that Brig. Gen. Johnson formulated the objectives and rules of the club and christened it the "Gymkhana".
Early membership of the club, was reserved for the Garrison members, British executives and some of the blue blooded members of the Indian gentry. Sports and Games all started, when a tent was put up in the open grounds, where polo and pig sticking was played. The sea change in the club, however, came about, when the Raja of Venkatagiri donated a Grand stand.
Now from Polo and pig sticking, the club moved on. Cards, Polo, Rugby, Tennis, Golf, Trap Shooting were played by the members with gusto. Further, the South Indian Rajahs nurtured the club with generous donations for buildings, billiards tables and polo ponies.
The history of the club is, for the most part, intertwined with the history of India. With the onset of the First World War, calling for an ordinance to expel all the German members of the club, only for the club to later find out that most of its German settlers had erstwhile fled away. With the Indian woman gaining more and more prominence, the club now passed an ordinance to allow Independent women to become members of the club.
A bowling green came up, along with a ball room in the paddock. Dance nights concluded with grand suppers, where starlit pictures of couples dancing in the moonlight were taken by the photographers The Club was alive and radiant, and in due course was facilitated with its swimming pool. It was in this same pool, a few years hence that a special event Major Sammy Lee, Olympic Diving Champion, performed at the Gymkhana treating over 500 members to an unforgettable diving exhibition, It was around this time that the club kitchen was upgraded with an Ice making plant, Ice – cream machine and a deep freeze cabinet.
A few years hence, amidst much fanfare the Tom Thumb golf area was set up. The Men's bar, gave way to the new look Mixed Bar, and one would often see a member heading out here after his stint at the Tom Thumb.
There are 14 rooms-3 deluxe, 6 regular and 6 suites. Accommodation is provided for members of both domestic and internationally affiliated clubs. All rooms are air-conditioned.
The tennis courts are a great prestige to the club, from the likes of Vijay Amritraj who grew up here in these very own tennis courts. The courts have held several prestigious tournaments for the ITF, and more popularly, the national Women's tennis ranking championships. All the 4 courts are flood lit.
It also houses a gym, swimming pool, billiards, table tennis and a cards room.
The club also has a sports shop, salon, beauty parlour, ice cream parlour and a well stocked book and DVD library.
Originally started from the Island Grounds, the course was shifted to Guindy around 1887. The Guindy Golf course originally had 9 holes. It then graduated to 14 holes and then to 16, before becoming a full-fledged 18-hole golf course. It was originally played off the browns; the transformation to greens happened during the 1980s. Guindy golf course was known for its roughs, the tall and prickly grass bordering most fairways, which posed a signal challenge to golfers with the ever-changing wind. The course (6325/5765 yards) is unique being situated within the 2,400-m oval of the Guindy racecourse.
Col Ross Thompson was the first Captain of the golf club. In the year 1878, the first inter-club competition between MGC and BGC teed off. This competition remains to date the world's oldest such continuing competition between two golf clubs. In the year 2002, the golf club celebrated 125 years of golf.
The 70-par golf course plays about 6258 yards played off the regular tees. There are separate tees where ladies tee of and a set of championship tee-boxes which give variety. The course is known for its tricky roughs and the unpredictable wind factor. There are over 50 bunkers in the course, most of them guarding the relatively small sized greens.
- Staff reporter (6 September 2009). "Book records Gymkhana Club's glorious years". The Hindu. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- Madras Gymkhana Club. "Welcome to the Madras Gymkhana Club Golf". Madras Gymkhana Club. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- indiagolfcourses.com. "Madras Gymkhana Club". indiagolfcourses.com. Retrieved 2 August 2012.