The government needs to create more golf courses & driving ranges to popularise the sport and give a boost to the tourism sector feels Aakash Ohri – Executive Director, DLF Home Developers in an interview with Golf Digest India
As Executive Director, DLF Home Developers, Aakash has been instrumental in the growth of the golf business at DLF, involved in all phases of its development since its founding in 2000. Aakash, an avid golfer, has been an active member of the Indian golfing community. As president of the Golf Industry Association (GIA) from 2014- 16 he was instrumental in promoting the game in India through the annual India Golf Expo. He is an advocate of eco-friendliness and sustainability which he evidently incorporated into the development of the new Gary Player designed golf course at DLF Golf & Country Club (DLF G&CC) which has hosted a number of major golf tournaments including the 2015 Hero Women’s Indian Open.
GDI: You’ve been at the heart of golf development in Gurgaon and DLF G&CC. What plans and goals do you have for this world-class facility?
Upgradations at the DLF Golf & Country Club were carried out to enhance the experience of the golf playing community in the region, and to give the residents unmatched vistas of the golf course. Further, this facility is at the heart of one of the most sought after residential communities in the country, DLF Phase 5. The club continues to serve its members with world class facilities such as the Gary Player course and its country club experiences.
GDI: How was your experience in developing this course and how did it all start? Were there other designers evaluated besides Gary Player Design?
As you can see, a development of this magnitude needs thorough planning and an even better team to implement it. We set out to partner with a golf course designer who shared the same vision as DLF and after speaking with a few, firmed up our decision to go with Gary Player Design (GPD). GPD is one of the most successful golf course design companies in the world and are known for their eco-friendly practices, which we felt was a key ingredient to creating the course at DLF. More experts in their fields were brought in to look after shaping, irrigation, landscape, tree transplantation and agronomy. The experience of leading a team of such experts and to see the project to fruition has been immensely satisfying.
GDI: Could you describe some of the sustainable & green initiatives that are being followed at the golf course?
The first task at hand was to transplant existing and newly acquired trees to locations within the course as desired by the golf and landscape architects. This was the largest exercise of its kind in the region and yielded nearly 100% results. We were also aware of the scarcity of water in the area, and set up a Sewage Treatment Plant that now not only caters to the needs of the golf course but also the entire DLF5. Not a single drop of fresh water is used for horticulture and irrigation purposes.
GDI: You have worked with state bodies to develop golf facilities, what is the state’s appetite for golf development & tourism?
Even though golf is now an Olympic sport, the state bodies are yet to fully recognize the benefits of promoting this game. More needs to be done to create golf courses and driving ranges. The golf tourism sector has now seen some interest with involvement from the government. An organized program presented to inbound tourists is sure to give a boost to better utilization of our existing facilities.
GDI: You are a patron and immediate past president of the Golf Industry Association (GIA). How is the body influencing the growth of the game?
The Golf Industry Association is a body that has for the first time in India brought under one roof, so many key stakeholders through its annual India Golf Expo. There are many gaps in communication within the industry in India and with those who are keen to set up new businesses. This association will bridge those gaps.
GDI: What needs to be done to grow the game in India and for us to churn out more champion golfers?
As we have done at the DLF Golf & CC, one of the most important aspects of developing golf in India is the creation of golf academies and driving ranges. We have seen tremendous success with our junior program, with many of them bringing home national and international glory. More of these structured programs backed by facilities at par with those available overseas are needed.
GDI: What is DLF’s roadmap to promote golf & grow the game in India as a key influencer?
In addition to creating world-class golfing infrastructure, DLF has always supported golf tournaments and golfing talent. We continue to host international events on our golfing calendar and support upcoming talent.
GDI: How does DLF support upcoming talent?
Upcoming talent needs support as golf can be an expensive game to travel and play. DLF provides them with resources to travel, train and play and ultimately reach their true potential. A key initiative of the DLF Golf & CC has also been to promote golf among the underprivileged. We also have a robust caddie training program and conduct the oldest Inter Club Caddie Tournament in the country.