Popularly known as ‘Royal’, the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC), located on 18, Golf Club Road, in Tollygunge, is the oldest golf club in India and the oldest golf club outside the United Kingdom. Established in 1829, it was conferred with the title ‘Royal’, by King George V and Queen Mary to commemorate their visit to Calcutta in 1911.
Initially, the club was located near the Calcutta airport and after that, it moved to the Maidan. The Maidan Pavilion was opened during the month of January 1885 and a fine bowling green was laid down in 1887. Within a short time, the course became popular among the European community of the growing city and during the Christmas time in 1892, the first Amateur Golf Championship of India was held at the Royal, with players participating from Ceylon, Burma, Penang and Singapore. With the registered office of the Club at the Maidan, the work on the course at Tollygunge started in 1908 and was opened for the players in 1912, complete with all the 18 holes.
During those early days of the 20th century, Tollygunge was far away from the white town of Calcutta and though the Europeans frequented the Tolly Club, established in the locality in 1895, it was it was mostly forested, full of marshes and some portions of it were used as agricultural land.
It seems that the area, over which the course of the Royal Calcutta Golf Club is laid, was probably used as paddy field and consequently, the course of the club is very undulating. However, for years together, utmost efforts were made and sincere care was taken to build mounds and plant thousands of trees and shrubs for the beautification of the property. Nevertheless, the most evident features of the Royal are its strategically located water tanks and natural water hazards. By modern standards, greeneries at Royal are small, but natural undulations made them tricky. From the tees, the course looks deceptively easy, but to score requires good long and medium irons.
Today, the Royal Calcutta Golf Club is equipped with an 18 hole golf course, with 7591/ 6978 yardage, Par 72, with a 73.6 /72.1 rating and mostly flat terrain and natural water hazards. Apart from hosting a multitude of golf tournaments, the Club offers the facilities of tennis courts and a swimming pool. The Club was originally meant for gentlemen only and subsequently, ladies were allowed for membership in a very reluctant way in 1886, when the committee voted in majority to allow the female members to use the course only in the mornings.
The golf course of the Royal has been almost always a preferred venue for hosting many distinguished amateur and professional events, including the Indian Open. Many great Indian Golfers like, Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, Jyoti Randhawa, SSP Chawrasia and Anirban Lahiri, have been related to the heritage and history of the Royal Calcutta Golf Club. Apart from that, many renowned International golfers have also walked the golf course of the Royal.
The Royal always encourages and motivates the local lads working as caddies to become a celebrated professional in the country and in fact, it has produced some of the finest amateurs and professional golfers in India. The Royal, essentially a golf club, has maintained its character over the years and today, it is considered as one of the finest golf courses not only in India but also in Asia. It also maintains a Lawn Bowls Pavilion in the Maidan of Calcutta.