The Hyderabad Golf Association has appointed Richardson | Danner Golf Course Architects to transform the course at Hyderabad Golf Club in India.
Hyderabad GC’s original course opened in 1992 to a design from David Hemstock, who continued to oversee tweaks to the layout throughout the decade. In 2010, James Edwards redesigned the course, with help from Nandan Heblikar, and in 2014, four new holes were built following a land acquisition while some existing holes were rerouted.
The layout has holes among the granite walls of the Golconda Fort, a fortified citadel built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Over the years the fort’s walls and structures have been restored, and the golf course was built to conform with the guidance of the Archaeological Survey of India, which is responsible for preserving the fort and its heritage. The course also serves as a drainage field and therefore no pesticides or chemicals are used.
“Our mission is to bring international exposure to the City of Hyderabad,” said Dayakar Reddy, president of the Hyderabad Golf Association. “We are looking to the future to train athletes for the Olympics and to play internationally. As part of this goal, we will transform the course to be able to host major tournaments, while preserving and enhancing the golf experience for members and local residents.”
Jeff Danner will manage the project for the design firm and has spent several days on site understanding the goals and objectives of the club, including consulting on the relationship between the golf and tourism opportunities for the property.
“Hyderabad Golf Club is an amazing story of preservation, while at the same time providing an opportunity for more international exposure and allowing people to learn about the history of one of the greatest archaeological sites in India,” said Danner. “The course has evolved over time and has been carefully constructed with the fort, expanding gradually from three holes to its present day 18-hole version. Quite literally, a diamond in the rough.”
“One cannot look at the course and be anything but awestruck,” said Forrest Richardson. “It is the blending of green space with an ancient village. In many respects it mirrors St Andrews, where we have a golf course lapping up against the edge of an ancient town, the two joined together in a magical way that you have to see to believe.
“It is living proof that a golf course is more than its physical elements. It reminds us that the game is one where the player is not confined to a standardised field or court, but where we travel along a route that interacts with other parts of a community, its landscape and culture. It shows us that golf is a social journey, just as much as taking a hike in the country or taking a walk through a city.
“Our work has three primary objectives. We are here to preserve, improve and prepare — ‘preserve’ involves taking great care with the way our golf course plans will interact with the fort. ‘Improve’ will focus on our work to bring a common design theme to the course, to add tees for more length and to serve beginners and those just out to enjoy a casual round. Finally, ‘prepare’ is our vision to create the new academy to serve a new generation of golfers across the Hyderabad region.”
The architects plan to lengthen the 6,300-yard course, potentially by using additional land. “We have several approaches to adding yardage,” said Danner. “Creativity is a must, and we are committed to retaining the interest and strategy that makes Hyderabad one of the most interesting courses in all of golf. Essentially, this is a golf course situated within a living museum, and that should always be respected.”
Richardson and Danner will be assisted by Nandan Heblikar, a local golf design consultant, on technical aspects of the project. Charles Graham of On Course Project and Agronomic Consulting will oversee turf improvements and replacement, with Rain Bird providing design and consulting on water conservation and irrigation.
“The project will bring tremendous international exposure to Hyderabad,” said Danner. “The unique character of the site has created a very distinct identity that will be leveraged to enhance visibility to the golf course. We embrace the club’s mission to showcase Hyderabad Golf Club as a golf venue that is not only uniquely Hyderabad, but uniquely India.”
The pair will also design new practice facilities and an academy to help grow the game in the region and provide opportunities to train golfers in Hyderabad. Planning and design work is under way, with the practice facilities expected to include a new range, short-game area and putting course.