Sri Lanka really does have some of the worlds most unique, distinct and sustainable golf courses. It also has some of the oldest….think Nuwara Eliya which is celebrating its 125 years this year and see more on this here: https://www.jansengolfdesign.com/blog/nuwara-eliya-golf-club-nuwera-eliya-sri-lanka/).
But Nuwara Eliya is not the oldest golf club on the island. This award belongs to Royal Colombo – a club celebrating over 135 years of the game. It is also the second oldest golf club outside of the United Kingdom (after Royal Calcutta).
Royal Colombo is situated slap bang in the middle of the city and is a golf haven deluxe. As you arrive you know you are in for something special as you are courted by its history which clings to the old walls of the clubhouse. As you walk out onto the veranda (and in my case sit for a cup of Ceylon tea with toasted bread and jam) you cant help but feel part of history. It is a grand feeling by the way.
The golf course is as unique as any I have seen and this is on show from the start. Hole 1 fairway is shared with 18 and the green complex – out in the distance – is framed by an active rail line which bisects the golf course as it comes into play on a couple of holes. This feature is not something you see everyday but adds immeasurable interest and gives the courses an identity. I keep thinking about Tom Simpson (Golden Age Golf Architect) famed quote which I believe holds true for Royal Colombo “ Roads, railways, sheds and gardens may be thought unsatisfactory and unwelcome, yet they are often the essence of a course; take them away and the difference would at once be felt”.
By the way a long time back I wrote a piece for the HK Golfer magazine about unconventionality in golf which you can find here: http://www.hkgolfer.com/courses-and-travel/what-make-unconventional?page=1#sthash.OssQEMFQ.dpuf
Of course at Royal Colombo there are roads, trees and gardens that all come into play. It is a colorful golf experience and one that you simply cannot forget. The golfer is taken on a journey of discovery around the property and at each twist and turn you are wowed but some of the existing and man made features (a large tree maybe 135 years old or an old crafted bridge for instance).
The course is surrounded by cityscape yet you are surrounded by nature and color. Birds congregate at mass on the links and other wildlife trot across the course.
Royal Colombo is a special place to play golf. It is heaped in history and the golf is a true adventure highlighted by some of the most unique and interesting features you will find on a golf course. I am overjoyed I made it back to Royal Colombo.
See my video of the golf course but particularly the railway line here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omKNjQzRmFs&feature=youtu.be