March 29th, 2022 (Hyderabad, India) — Following a comprehensive selection process and, the Hyderabad Golf Association in Telangana, India has appointed U.S. based Richardson | Danner Golf Course Architects to take Hyderabad Golf Club forward in planning and implementing a full-course improvement program. Among the priorities are to design and integrate new state-of-the-art practice facilities and an academy that will help grow the game and provide opportunities to train golfers coming out of Hyderabad for competitive competition.
“Our mission is to bring international exposure to the City of Hyderabad,” says Hyderabad Golf Association’s President, Dayakar Reddy. “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.”
Hyderabad Golf Club is one of the world’s most unique courses, with golf holes built within a protected monument, the Golconda Fort. The original construction of the course in 2001 came about as a result of the Telangana Tourism Development Corporation’s objective to create a sustainable recreation and tourism facility for the State of Telangana on the Indian Peninsula. Portions of the course play along the forts granite walls that were built between 1512 and 1687, an era when Bahamani rulers took possession of Golconda Hill and created the fort to protect its citizens. Over the years the fort’s walls and structures have been restored with the golf course carefully conforming to the Archaeological Survey of India, who is responsible for preserving the fort and its heritage.
“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 archeological sites in India,” notes Jeff 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.” Danner, who will manage the project for Richardson | Danner, 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. The evolution of the golf course has included reclaiming land once used for a landfill. The golf course now provides erosion protection of soils and serves as a drainage field within the historic fort. In addition, the course provides its own wastewater treatment for irrigation through a three-stage, gravity-fed wetland system. The course is maintained under a bio-remediation root zone approach where no pesticides or chemicals are introduced.
“Our work has three primary objectives,” adds Forrest Richardson, Principal Golf Course Architect with Richardson | Danner. “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.
Richardson | Danner will work with the club and local authorities to lengthen the current 6,300 yard layout through the use of additional land that may become available. “We have several approaches to adding yardage,” adds 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.”
Conceived to cultivate and promote tourism in Hyderabad, the formation of the golf club is one of the greatest stories in golf architecture. “One cannot look at the course and be anything but awestruck,” says 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.” Richardson, author of five books on golf course architecture, and member of the U.S.G.A. Museum Committee, believes Hyderabad Golf Club is a story long overdue to be told. “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 standardized 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.”
The club is simultaneously planning a major clubhouse and amenity expansion to support the course improvements. “Our obligation is to serve golfers from all over the world as well as those from our local community. As Hyderabad’s first public golf course, the members realize that we must continue to improve and bring new vision to reality so that we are at the forefront of service for all who use and enjoy the facilities,” Ajay Kumar Reddy, of Hyderabad Golf Association. The clubhouse work will dovetail to the practice center and academy additions, which are envisioned to include a new practice range and dedicated short game area that is likely to include a short pitching course and dedicated putting course.
Richardson | Danner will coordinate with local golf design consultant, Nandan Heblikar on technical aspects of the work. Charles Graham of On Course Project and Agronomic Consulting will oversee turf improvements and replacement. Rain Bird Golf Irrigation will provide design and consulting on water conservation and irrigation measures integrated to Richardson | Danner’s design work. Planning and design work has already begun with construction of the Academy commencing as the first phase of work.
“The project will bring tremendous international exposure to Hyderabad,” summarizes 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.”