Golf break, in Sri Lanka?

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Our Managing Director Catherine shares her experience golfing in Sri Lanka:

All right, Sri Lanka is not exactly known as a prime golf destination. Nevertheless, the island has a long golf history going hundreds of years back to the colonial times. And the golf courses here are simply gorgeous, especially the ones in the Hill Country. I admit I’m not much a golfer, but I tried my best and certainly enjoyed the tropical scenery during several golf breaks in Sri Lanka.

The historical Nuwara Eliya Golf Club.

The historical Nuwara Eliya Golf Club.

We stayed overnight at Jetwing St. Andrews.

We stayed overnight at Jetwing St. Andrews.

The most iconic golf courses in Sri Lanka are the Royal Colombo Golf Club and the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club. They are both very convenient to access while touring. I first tried golfing at Nuwara Eliya while on a trekking tour with a friend who is quite a good golfer. The location of the club at the city center is very interesting. We got there on a bumpy ride on a tuk tuk, enjoying the vibrant sights of the town. We were instantly taken in with the club’s charming colonial-era main building. The golf course itself is simply lovely and is surrounded by highland forest. It’s only about 6,000 yards but offers narrow fairways. I only practiced my grip and some putting here. The caddies called me “Master,” really giving the feeling of being at a 19th century British golf club. My friend, on the other hand, was on fire. After the game, we enjoyed a very Sri Lankan savory meal at the club restaurant. We stayed overnight at the hotel Jetwing St. Andrews.

Trying my luck at Royal Colombo golf club.

Trying my luck at Royal Colombo golf club.

My second game of golf in Sri Lanka was with a group of golfers at Royal Colombo golf club. This club is the most affluent on the island and is frequented by upper-class locals and professional golfers. Unlike Nuwara Eliya, Royal Colombo course is flat and, interestingly, a railway line runs right across the 6th green. Mind you, this line is still in use. Caddies are compulsory and one will charge about Rs. 300, less than three dollars. I loved playing the course; it has great mid-length short holes and challenging Par 5s. Downside is due to the unpredictable Colombo rain the course can sometimes be muddy with puddles. Regardless, the club employs pond boys who fish out balls from murky water for a measly Rs. 20. The club is also a great place to hang out. They have a nice restaurant to try out local or local versions of Western food.

The utterly scenic Victoria Golf and Country Resort near Kandy.

The utterly scenic
Victoria Golf and Country Resort near Kandy.

By far, my favorite course is Victoria Golf and Country Resort in Digana, which is a 45 minute drive from Kandy. It may not be as conveniently located as the other two, but the course is simply amazing. It’s on some hills facing the Mahaweli River and a water reservoir so the view is breathtaking. It was designed by the famous golfer and architect Donald Steel and was once named one of the most beautiful golf courses in Asia by Golf Digest! This is definitely the place to test your true strength as a golfer. The Par 4s here are particularly tough even for competitive golfers. The course is full of slopes so it took me two rounds to get used to, but after that it was very playable.

The course at Golf Link hotel in Trincomalee.

The course at Golf Link hotel in Trincomalee.

There’s a much newer golf course catering mainly to tourists at the Golf Link hotel at Sandy Bay, Trincomalee. The course is flat, standard and comes with a stunning sea view. This is a good place for a relaxing golf and beach retreat. I spend three days here with two golfer friends. Whenever we weren’t playing, we would hit the beach for a swim or some sunbathing. It’s relatively secluded so our retreat was guaranteed to be quiet and fun.

For golfers, Sri Lanka offers unique courses and atypical retreats for unforgettable vacations filled with the game you love. Even non-golfers, like me, can try their hand at the game and be treated to the visual spectacle that is Sri Lanka.

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