The Madras Gymkhana Golf Course is a links style 18 hole, 6690 yard, par 72 course that has a unique location within a horse race track at Guindy in Chennai. Open to the vagaries of weather (can be very windy), the course is known for its tricky roughs and the unpredictable wind factor. The golf course annexe is a part of the Madras Gymkhana Club that is located at the island grounds on Anna Salai.
The Madras Golf Club was established in 1877 after the Royal Calcutta Golf Course (RCGC) which was established in 1829 and the Bangalore Golf Club (BGC) which went on stream in 1876.
Originally started from the island grounds, the course was shifted to Guindy sometime around 1887. The Guindy Golf Course originally had 9 holes, graduating to 14 holes and then to 16, before becoming a full fledged 18 hole golf course. Originally played off the browns, the transformation to greens was not to happen until the 1980s. All along, Guindy Golf Course was known for its roughs, the tall and prickly grass bordering most fairways which posed a challenge to golfers with the ever changing wind. Col Ross Thompson was the first captain of the golf club and in the year 1878, the first inter-club competition between MGC and BGC teed off. This remains to date the world’s oldest such continuing competition between two golf clubs. In the year 2002, the golf club celebrated 125 years of golf, a feat very few golf clubs outside of Great Britain can boast. Many things may have changed over the years, but the Madras Gymkhana Golf Annexe breathes the history of golf in India every time the wind sweeps across the vast expanse of open land.
The greens play true for the most part and the narrow approach to several greens mask the deceptive nature of the links course with no sign of trees. The five 3 pars in the course can all prove difficult for an advanced golfer to make pars – they are long and the wind is usually blowing sideways. The most deceptive hole in the course is perhaps number 11, a short par 3, 150 yard approach to the green bound on the front and side by out-of-bounds and a tough chip shot awaiting if you go over the green from the tee.
Presently, the local rules permit one preferred lie on a par 3 and two preferred lies on par 4 and par 5 holes, should you keep your ball within the fairways. There are well over 60 bunkers on the course, most of them guarding the relatively small greens.