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Par Excellence: Forest Hill Golf Resort

Anindita Chattopadhyay tees off at a golfer's dream in the heart of Chandigarh

A golf resort nestled in the lap of the Shivalik, just 15 minutes from Sector 17 in Chandigarh and a stone’s throw away from the Punjab secretariat? It is unbelievable, I said. But my colleague was determined to give me a surprise. We drove down the tree-lined road, heading towards Punjab. Leaving the Rock Garden on Ropar Road behind, we crossed the Sukhna Lake and approached the Punjab Secretariat. Keeping the Secretariat car parking on our right, we took a dusty road that skirted off the metal road. And past some scattered village houses, offering a perfect rustic setting, we came to Forest Hill Golf Resort.

As the car rolled down the broad driveway and came to a halt near the Country Club House, I could only utter one word - wow! The world of concrete suddenly vanished as if by magic. I stood amidst a sprawling green of 500 acres laced with undulating green robed hills. As far as I could see, sun-kissed lush emerald fairways rolled down to the foothill of the Shivalik, where the sky domed in and kissed the hills. The grasses - hold your breath - have been brought in from Arizona. “Early mornings you can see barasingha and deer. We have made water bodies along the border where the greens touch forests so that they drink water and go back,” said Ajay Girotra, VP, marketing and sales (global). Fancy putting in the green in early mornings with a stray barasingha or deer as a spectator and then it suddenly melting away into the forest before you can blink.

This new golf resort is a dream come true for Colonel BS Sandhu, chairman of World Wide Immigration Consultancy Services Ltd (WWICS).

An avid golfer, he always dreamt of having a golf course resembling courses in America. His vision was conceptualised by Wimberley Allison Tong and Goo of US, the famous designer of the Lost Palace, Sun City, South Africa. The resort was launched with Forest Hill Golf Open on October 16 with a prize money of Rs 10 lakh where the best Indian professionals participated. The 18 hole (now 9 holes are operational), 7123 yards, par-72 golf course offers an exciting terrain for golfers.

With tight well-bunkered greens of varying sizes and intricate contouring placed on sometimes meandering, undulating, tricky landscape, each fairway is on a different plane with the natural hurdles of gorges, lakes and sand bunkers.

“It is a perfect blend of strategy, dynamism of power, finesse and fun. Jeev Milkha Singh commented that had he practiced here he would not have lost in America,”informed Girotra. No doubt a compliment to cherish. There is a golf academy here. So those of you who are usually angst-ridden on the first tee can take the help of pros to groom with the art of playing. They have tied up with eminent pros from across the country to come over and share their experience.

The academy is well-equipped with the latest gizmos to trace your swings and audio-visuals for your training. The best part is even if you are a non-golfer you can become a member. What's more, anybody can walk in to play a game as it is not confined to members only. The club lawn strewn with white wrought iron chairs overlooking the lake and the moat made a perfect setting for a laid-back evening. The Club House is complete with a well-stocked bar and elegant dining rooms. A card room, swimming pool, gym, speciality restaurants and changing rooms are in the pipeline. I stared at the panoramic skyline right ahead of me noshing on hot paneer pakoras and veg spring rolls as the cold wind gently caressed my hair. Suddenly I felt I don't want to go back. This place is so out of the world! I inquired about accommodation. Right now, accommodation is available in the form of tents. Some 30 Swiss and Maharaja tents are being set up.

A 122-key property will be built by the Oberois. Even a NRI village is coming up within the resort premises. So, next time you are visiting this part of the country, just drive in and chill out. If you want to take the hundred feet elevations that gracefully roll along the well placed water hazards and the expansive sand bunkers head on, just go ahead. No body is stopping you. Have a ball.