SHILLONG: The Shillong Golf Course (SGC) is in shambles, thanks to the weekend picnics, football and cricket matches by locality youths. The SGC is one of the largest golf courses in Asia and is known as “Gleneagles of the East”.
Expressing his concern, Suresh Singh, General Secretary, Managing Trust, The Shillong Club said that every Saturday and Sunday the golf course turns into a public park. “The road that bifurcates the golf course has to be diverted and alternative arrangements have to be made if the golf course is to be saved”, said Singh.
“Picnickers dump plates, broken beer bottles, polythene packets et al. People must have some respect and sensitivity about the course. Here people take great pride in cleanliness but one of the cleanest villages and dirtiest golf course being located in the same state is an oxymoron,” said Ashok Lyngdoh, Secretary, SGC.
“There is no civic sense so we will be compelled to close down the road,” said Singh. “We’ve already convened a meeting with the local Durbar Shnong, the MLA and elderly residents of the area and have tried to make them understand the value and importance of the golf course. They were all co-operative. Nowhere else in the world does a road pass through a golf course,” Singh said adding that there has also been encroachment into SGC in the past. The SGC, a property of The Shillong Club – is aiming to make this one of the best in the country. He said that the SGC also provided an alternative venue for games but that is hardly used by the youths.
The road passing through the course has destroyed it. No major tournaments can be organized because of the poor condition of the course. The huge number of visitors every weekend is a worrying factor. “We are trying to showcase the golf course as a tourist destination since it is Meghalaya’s selling point. But when tourists come here to play golf they are appalled at its condition. There are comments posted on the internet by foreign tourists that the SGC is a public park,” said the general secretary.
“Public awareness about the utility of the golf course is a must,” say all golf aficionados. SGC has put placards saying “Trespassers will be prosecuted,” but this has hardly worked. In the recent past around 260 saplings were planted around the course through community participation and with the collaboration of the Government, defence establishments, schools and NGOs. “This is one of the slowly disappearing green lungs left in the town, apart from the defence areas,” rued the SGC secretary. He said every Monday morning the course looks like a public dumping ground. The SGC is also in conversation with INTACH for declaring it as a World Heritage Site. Golf Captain, Rahul Bajaj on the other hand said that major national tournaments like Wills etc. were organized here but that is all in the past. “If SGC is maintained properly then many tournaments can be organized in association with The Royal Kolkata Golf and Turf Club and others in the country,” said Bajaj adding such prestigious events can open up more avenues for the state in terms of revenue generation and entrepreneurship. Meanwhile, the local headman clarified that the golf course is a private property and they have no say in it. “The weekend picnickers are mainly tourists from Guwahati and elsewhere who come here in their cars. Besides the games are not played by the locality youths who have been given a separate field for games. The SGC authority should put in place proper fencing in order to prevent and prohibit any misuse of the course,” said June Lyngdoh, Headman, Golf Links. “We have cooperated and helped them to ban people from roaming at night. Last month we had a meeting on how to prevent people from trespassing into the course,” he added.