Bombay Presidency Golf Club was established in 1927 and it currently plays to a par of 70 over a total yardage of 6,148 yards. It’s been described as offering “classic golf on a tight site” which is certainly true if you look at an overhead image of the modern day course, completely hemmed in by housing on all sides – indeed, a road runs through the layout, cutting off a number of holes from the rest of the course.
Peter Thomson is credited with an upgrade of the layout during the 1970s but Nelson & Haworth carried out a more recent renovation in 2009, when tree-lined fairways were sand capped and new drainage installed on what is largely a flat site. As part of the upgrade, greens were also rebuilt in a “push-up” style with new Platinum Paspalum grass used for the putting surfaces.The layout opens and closes with demanding par fives though the toughest long hole on the course is encountered at the 508-yard 4th, where water lurks as the fairway veers right towards a back-to-front sloping green. There are six par threes on the card, three on each nine, with water coming into play on the first two short holes, the 189-yard 2nd and 186-yard 6th.
The Bombay Presidency Golf Club, encircled by the vibrant sprawl of Mumbai, is probably the prettiest and most highly conditioned urban golf course I have played in India. The contrast between the ever moving city backdrop and the tranquil tree lined fairways delivers a real sense of an arrival in an oasis, and once you step out on to the course, it is a place you will want to drink in and not leave in a hurry.
The course’s character is defined by the framing the trees provide and the various water hazards that interrupt the players thought processes. No two holes are the same, and while this par 70 may be diminutive, it more than makes up for its lack of length with regular strategic questioning. There is no better example of this than on the par 5 4th hole, on first glance not an obvious stroke index 1, as the card would suggest an opportunity awaits, but the reality of the hole is somewhat different to that. A huge lake dominates the vista from the tee and only the most accurate of shots will find the fairway, with both line and length needing to be precise to avoid a watery demise.
In the centre of the property, you could be forgiven for thinking you were a long way from the city, but it is as you come up to the edges of the course that you bump into the metropolis all around you. The par 3 6th green is one such example, where a once regal looking tower block now, slightly under-loved, watches over the green site at close quarters.
If I had to state a preference, I think the front nine provides a greater variety of challenge and intrigue. That being said, the two nines are remarkably similar in both length and par, with two equal sides of 35 shots and both measuring 3050 yards or so from the back tees. The toughest stretch on the course is the run 13-15 where the longest par 3 on the course precedes two of the longest and most exacting par 4’s on the course. The par 5’s at 16 and 18 then offer a real opportunity to generate some last minute scorecard traction, meaning even the weariest of golfers will still play with hope, right until the end of the round.
Bombay Presidency exceeded my expectations, both in terms of conditioning and of routing. Yes, it could be longer and yes it could possibly be more spacious, but I think it’s quality conditioning mixed with its inner city character mean this is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
The course has undergone another phased set of renovations with the primary objective of improving drainage during the relentless monsoon. The rework has also afforded more undulations of the course to give golfers more to think and work about. The tight parkland layout remains a classic and the variety on offer on this par 70 course in Mumbai suburbs is always a big draw. The course is quite private, but tourists and visitors with valid handicap certificates can access it through www.golftripz.com.
I was lucky to play with a member of this club during my short visit to Mumbai, the greens where excellent and very fast and a true roll on them. The course itself is a parkland style and very tight and no room for errors. I played off the back tee's and as a 4 handicapper was very comfortable. the S.I 1 is a great dog leg right with water running along it's side, excellent hole and definitely lives up to it's difficulty. Green fees where reasonable and a caddy is compulsory which he was very helpful. I was felt very welcomed in the clubhouse after and the food was great. This course is worth a visit.