At the time when there were just a handful of private golf clubs in India, he brought in international course designers to give the golf course development sector a massive push. Pradeep Jain was instrumental in the construction of ITC Classic Golf Resort (the first international standard 27-hole championship golf course) in 1992 designed by Jack Nicklaus in India and also The Laburnum, one of the first landmark high-end residential projects. An MBA & MS from Texas, USA, he is attributed with pioneering the development of high-end residential and leisure realty in India.
As chairman emeritus of Silverglades Ltd he conceptualized and developed the first golf-centric gated community in India called The Tarudhan Valley Golf Resort near Manesar in Haryana. Currently, he is involved in the development of the 280-acre Imperial Golf Estate in Ludhiana, which is surrounded by an 18-hole world-class golf course designed by Nicklaus Design. In a freewheeling chat with Vineet Mann, Jain spoke about the challenges faced by golf course developers and the scope of golf tourism in the country.
GDI: How did you get into golf course development?
After returning from the USA, whilst I was considering applying for membership of Delhi Golf Club (DGC), I was informed that the waitlist is more than 20 years. That is when I explored the possibility of getting into Real Estate with Golf as a USP. I had seen such developments during my stay in Dallas, USA. Aftermarket research and exploring a number of such projects, especially in and around Delhi, I realized that there was a big void for such a project and complex especially in and around Delhi.
GDI: What are the essential elements of a golf course project to be successful according to you?
The most important element of the golf course is the availability of contiguous land with sufficient water and good soil.
GDI: What are the critical steps of golf course construction?
First, you have to put together a business and financial model for a golf project development. Golf course per se doesn’t make money. It is the real estate around it that makes financial feasibility of the project.
GDI: What are the various developmental issues/challenges that golf course developers face in India?
The first biggest challenge is the availability of contiguous land. Approx. 140 acres are required for 18 hole champion golf course and thereafter related government and statutory approvals. Thirdly, getting a good golf course construction contractor. There is an acute shortage of golf course construction machinery, equipment, and trained technical personnel.
GDI: How many new golf developments do you see happening in the country in next few years? What are the potential projects do you see in the next few years?
Golf course construction has become very popular now in India. All the state governments see the necessity to build a golf course in their state to promote international tourism. Since international tourists are golf players, such international courses promote not only the golf course destination but also tourism to that state. Also, golf tourism has become very popular internationally. Golf tournaments are held all over the world, new golf courses are a big attraction for such golf tourism. Each state should build at least 4 to 5 golf courses because not only it promote tourism and brings foreign exchange, golf courses become lungs to the urban cities. States which are looking at developing golf courses in the future are Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.
GDI: What would it take, from a developer standpoint, for golfing facilities to emerge in large numbers to enable the game to the masses?
For golfing facility to become popular it is important that the state governments should offer lands for such developments. The most difficult part for the development is to accumulate contiguous land for the golf course. State Governments should focus on waste and wetlands and lands that have been left unattended to do joint ventures with the project developers to promote such projects. Not only golf course would add as lungs to the cities but would also become very attractive for the citizens of all ages.
GDI: How do you incorporate sustainable and eco-friendly practices into development? Can you cite some examples?
It is possible to have a golf course that does not require pesticide and insecticide which would pollute the environment. There are alternate organic materials are available which could sustain the golf course and its maintenance e.g., Neemkhali, treated sewer water, water harvested from the drainage system and rainwater harvesting.
GDI: Who are the various architects that you’ve partnered with? What do you look for in an architect that you are planning to work with?
We have tied up with Jack Nicklaus – USA, Graham Cook – Canada, Phil Ryan – Australia and there are lot more freelancing golf course designers and architects what we work with. We select the architect and the design, on the basis of the requirements and the standards of the golf course that one wants to build. Since their fees vary from the US $100,000 to 2 million, it’s important to select the appropriate architect/designer.