Describing J&K as a perfect destination for golfing, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Wednesday ordered formulation of a ‘Concept Plan’ for maintenance, operations and marketing of existing golf courses so as to make them self-sustained assets. He said the state needs to borrow expertise on creating golf resorts, laced with clubs and villas that will promote high-end tourism. “We need to create an institutional mechanism to involve expert consultancy in making J&K a global golfing destination,” he added. The Chief Minister was speaking during a high-level meeting Wednesday, called to review progress on existing and upcoming golf courses in the state. Chief Secretary, B. R. Sharma, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, Secretary Tourism, Farooq Ahmad Shah, leading Golf Consultant, Ranjit Nanda, Secretary RSGC and CEOs of Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Yusmarg, Aharbal and Sonamarg Development Authorities attended the meeting. Laying stress on proper maintenance of golf courses, Mufti Sayeed said golfing has an exciting future in J&K, given the God-given gift of natural landscape and lush green meadows. He asked the Tourism Department to develop golf resorts on play-and-stay basis so that the courses which are under-utilised, are able to generate revenue and become productive assets. J&K has four existing golf courses at Srinagar, Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sidhra while new courses are proposed for Sonamarg, Yusmarg and Aharbal in Kashmir and Sanasar and Jai-Bhaderwah in Jammu Division. Emphasising upon making golf courses fully operational, the Chief Minister described Gulmarg Golf Course as a heritage treasure and directed Secretary Tourism to revive golfing activity at one of the oldest courses in the state. He handed out instructions for laying golf course at Sonamarg, Yusmarg and Jai-Bhadarwah, which have natural contours in landscaping, by the end of next season so that a major golf circuit is created. While the second and final phase of 18-hole Jammu Tawi Golf Course is complete, a 9-hole course at Sanasar, near Patnitop, is also ready for commissioning. As a season-ending exercise, the Chief Minister ordered Secretary Tourism to invite all leading golfers of the country for a promotional tourney at RSGC, the state’s best known golfing destination. He stressed upon creating a golfing academy where the sport can be taught to school-going children. RSGC is hosting a series of events to boost golfing activity which include SAARC-Kashmir Championship, Greater Kashmir Invitational Cup, Lalit Corporate Event and Hindustan Times Cup. The Chief Minister was informed that RSGC has taken an initiative to train young school kids to master the sport. Out of 340 children, 30 have been adopted by RSGC for advance training. While briefing the Chief Minister, Ranjit Nanda said J&K has at least 40 potential sites for laying new golf courses of international standard. He said there is no other place where you have water, space and good weather put together in such abundance. On this occasion, the Chief Minister also took a firsthand appraisal of follow up action taken on his directions from the CEOs of various Tourism Development Authorities on solid waste management, maintenance and cleanliness of bowls, underground power cabling, up-gradation of resort roads for better connectivity, laying of mini-cable cars and diversification of tourism-related activities. He also placed high priority on adventure sports activities like skiing, heli-skiing, skating, trekking and mountaineering.
2015 Kashmir Despatch