TIn the days before the Rambagh Palace had been converted to a heritage hotel, Rajmata Gayatri Devi, then a young Maharani, Commissioned a golf course on the palace grounds. The year was 1944, when the first golf course in Rajputana came into being known as Rambagh Golf Club (RGC). The RGC was conceived as an 18 hole ‘Brown’ course with an egalitarian constitution that encouraged local citizenry to take up the novel sport.
In the year 1972, the RGC came to be registered as a society under the Rajasthan Societies Registration Act. In the years to come, the RGC found a place on the national professional circuit, whilst still continuing to retain in ‘Brown’ character. Many a pro would complain about their trek through the sands of ‘Dhoondar’ before they could complete a round of golf.
The Greening of the course was a gradual process which started in the early 1990’s. A couple of browns were converted into greens primarily with the efforts put in by Lt. General Himmeth Singh, Shri Yatindra Singh and others. In 1993, the club was sanctioned a grant of Rs. 38.22 lacs under a Central Government Scheme to improve facilities at tourist centers. Rs. 10.00 lacs as the first installment was received. This gave the greening process a kick start. The grassing of fairways began, it is worth nothing that the RGC received a commendation from the Central Government for the optimum utilization of funds.
It was at this juncture that the Club received a serious setback. The State Government and the Jaipur Development Authority decided to construct a commercial complex on the land on which the RGC was located. A long legal battle ensured in the High Court. A writ petition was filed by Shri Kamlakar Sharma in his own name and the Club also filed a writ petition in the High Court. A Single Bench (Justice Arun Madan) by its judgment dated 24th May, 1996 allowed the writ petitions and directed that the Golf Course shall be maintained in its present location. The State Government and the Jaipur Development Authority filed special appeals before the Division Bench. While the special appeals were pending the State Government took up the matter proposing a settlement out of court. A Committee headed by the Minister for Urban Development and Housing, the Minister of Tourism and the Minister for Sports held prolonged discussions with the Club. The Club was represented by Late Shri Prakash Maheshwari and Shri Kamlakar Sharma. After prolonged discussions, a settlement was arrived at on 11th August, 2000 with the Club in which the State Government agreed to retain the Golf Club at the present location. It was decided that on part of the land Central Park would be constructed. It was accepted that the Jaipur Development Authority was the owner of the land. The management and control of the Club was left with the Rambagh Golf Club with the modification that the Secretary to Government, Urban Development and Housing Department, Government of Rajasthan would be its President and Commissioner, Jaipur Development Authority would be its Vice President. It was also agreed that a Consultant would be appointed, who would give the layout of the Golf Course, the Central Park and the Polo Club. Whilst the settlements were being executed and implemented, two Public Interest Litigations came to be filed before the High Court; one by Shri Jitendra Shrimali and the other by Shri Ved Prakash Vishnoi challenging the authority of the State Government to enter into a settlement. After a prolonged hearing, the Division Bench dismissal both these writ petitions by its judgment dated 25th September, 2001. The Division Bench of the High Court compromising of Hon’ble Chief Justice, Mr. A.R.Lakshmanan and Mr. Justice P.P.Naolekar in their judgment held that looking to the contribution of the RGC in the promotion of tourism and its long history the State Government was justified in entering into a settlement with the Club. Accordingly, the Division Bench directed the State Government to implement the settlement. After the settlement was affirmed by the High Court, a consultant was appointed by the Jaipur Development Authority who submitted his report in which 89.74 acres was left for utilization of the RGC including 4.21 acres which is presently under occupation of the stables. The layout suggested by the consultant was approved in a meeting held under the Chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Government of Rajasthan on 30th October, 2003.
In due course of time, the Club submitted the building plans for construction of the Club House which were approved by the Jaipur Development A8uthority on 21st September, 2005. The construction of the club House, however, could not start. Several hurdles continued to exist in the path of the Club. Ultimately, it was only in May, 2006 that the construction of the building could start. Several meetings have taken place between the State Government, Jaipur Development Authority and the Club officials for completing the formalities with regard to the agreements that are to be executed. A Memorandum of Understanding is under preparation and hopefully, the process should be completed soon. Special commendation and appreciation is due to Shri Kamlakar Sharma for his untiring efforts in representing the Club in the Court as well as before the authorities so ably and that also gratis. Thanks to the State Government and the Jaipur Development Authority for having realized the importance of retaining the Golf Club in its present location and for entering into a settlement with the Club to settle all disputes. We hope the settlement is implemented in its entirely soon. This will pave the way to the complete development of the Club.
The first stage of the construction of the club House is compete and as you may have seen the facilities are set to rival that of any golf club in our country. But this was not the end of the last hurdle. A public Interest Litigation by one Vijay Singh Poonia was submitted to the High Court in the year 2004. The petition is still pending. Unfortunately, a Division Bench of High Court has recently passed an order staying all constructions due to which the work of the building has come to a standstill. We hope that this hurdle will also be overcome and pray that the stay order will be vacated soon.
During the last decade or so, there has been a remarkable development in the playing facilities of the Club. Now the Course is comparable to any course in the country. The Greening of the Course has been done under the stewardship of Col. S S Hada, VSM (Retd.) a former Captain of the Indian Armed Services Golf Team. In addition we have a bank of certified coaches, & a well stocked pro-shop. A true indicator of the health of a sport is in the number of children participating, and they at the RGC outnumber the seniors at the practice range!
The RGC is a major attraction for tourists visiting Jaipur; both for foreign tour groups, and Indian delegates attending conferences. The view of the forts of Nahargarh & Moti Dungri from our links is truly spectacular, and gives meaning to Jaipur’s title of a heritage city.
If you Google Earth Jaipur, or, take a flight out of Sanganer Airport, you will notice that RGC is the only open area of significance in the city of Jaipur. The JDA has developed the land attached to the northern boundary of the RGC to create Central Park. A walking track now circumnavigates the RGC & Central Park. This chunk of land serves as the lungs of our city, and is the only substantial outdoor recreational area in Jaipur.
The Rambagh Golf Club has always played a larger role in the lives of the citizenry of Jaipur. First it introduced the noble game to the common man, now serves as a tourist attraction. It has fulfilled the need of providing a good course in Japiur. Most importantly it acts as a sponge for the pollution that plagues every developing modern City If we continue getting it right, like we have done so in the past, the Rambagh Golf Club will remain an example for other clubs to follow.
Capt. Mrityunja Singh