Royal Colombo Golf Club was founded in 1879, achieving its royal title from King George V in 1928. The club moved to its present location in 1896 when Sir Joseph West Ridgeway, governor of the Crown Colony of Ceylon, gifted a sufficient acreage of farmland for the use of the members.
The course has changed much over the years. The grounds were used by the military during World War II so a great deal of effort was required to allow play to resume when hostilities ceased with Dick Greenway, club professional from 1920 to 1968, borrowing a bulldozer to assist with the endeavours.
Martin Ebert, when he was working with Donald Steel at the time, carried out an 18-month renovation project at the start of the new millennium when he rebuilt bunkers and re-layed greens with Bermuda grass. The old-fashioned routing remains the same as before, involving crossover holes, shared fairways and a railway line as a hazard.
Neil Haworth later produced a report for the club in which he recommended installing a modern irrigation system, reshaping the existing water hazards, removing unwanted trees, constructing greens to USGA standard and replacing fairway turf and putting surfaces with paspalum grass.
In 2015, the greens were re-grassed with
Bermuda Tifeagle from Thailand and all the work was carried out in-house. Three
years later, Paul Jensen produced a master plan which resulted in the
rebuilding of all the tee complexes and the introduction of two new holes next
to the existing 14th. This now allows more playing options and assists future
renovation work if a hole or two can be taken out for a period of time.
I have played this golf course twice, the last time in 2012. The Royal Tag to the golf course suggested that it will be one of the classic British colonial golf courses. The clubhouse did not betray that sentiment at all -it is a classic colonial heritage structure. But the golf course did not do much for me. There was some quirkiness about it - railway track running through etc, some interesting doglegs and elevation changes, but nothing else that makes you remember the course. I am told the course has undergone renovation and the grass has been replaced. I hope the golf course is in better condition than it was when I last played.
Played this course in February, the course itself is ok, pretty unique with train tracks through middle of course. Short tight course and plenty of water, don't worry if your ball goes into the water because there are number of locals that will dive into the water and retrieve your ball for a very small amount of local currency. Green fees and driving range fees for balls etc was a bit skeptic, as a foreigner you feel that they are trying to take advantage all the time.