The David Hemstock-designed Aamby Valley Golf Club, situated in the astounding Western Ghat mountains south of Mumbai, has picked-up an award at the recent Asia Pacific Golf Summit in Malaysia.
Previously voted by the Professional Golfer’s Association of India as the ‘best in India’ after its inaugural Asian Tour tournament in 2005, Aamby Valley this time took runner-up spot to the Indian Open-prepared DLF Club in Delhi. Both, incidentally, are floodlit courses.
Positioned on a natural platform overlooking Shivaji’s Fort and a 5,000-acre residential development, and overlooked by the towering peaks of the Ghats, every hole on the layout plays in a different orientation, adding a requirement for strategic thought when the wind blows in off the Arabian Sea.
The original land was almost entirely a rock surface with skimming of topsoil, with the past-eroded soil having to be carted from the lower areas back up onto the site. Water comes from the reservoirs surrounding the course, which are filled by the four-month monsoon, amounting to around four metres of water deposited June to September.
The 1st hole features a Victorian-style grey stone viaduct designed by David Hemstock to bring a hint of England and the past history of the site to the layout, the British having once used the area as a ‘hill station’ to retire from the heat and humidity of Bombay below.
Hemstock’s association with the course began in 1995, when a meeting with the Secretary of the Army Golf Club in Delhi, Colonel S K Sinha, led to a design commission under the great cricket all-rounder and scratch golfer Kapil Dev, now a director of the parent company which owns the golf club.
“After15 years, the work is still not finished. There are modifications in the offing, and the work by Jan van der Schyff and his team is relentless in search of the perfect playing conditions. We aim for first place next year!” says Hemstock.
“I was back there at the course recently,” Hemstock continues “reminiscing with the Colonel on the stomach-churning early morning rides from the local town, through the jungle tracks to the site, the endless rock-breaking, the leopards and cobras that thankfully I never met face to face, though they were thereabouts as we worked. It has been the experience of a lifetime, but well worth the early hardships too see such a lovely course and restored jungle develop”.
Hemstock Associates www.hemstockassociates.com