Royal Nepal Golf Club – October 2017 – Yesterday I had the pleasure of teeing it up with Nepali female golfing sensation, Pratima Sherpa, her golf coach Sachin Bhattarai and another wonderful junior golfer, Bipin Tamang.
Playing at this course makes it my 130th golf course in 12 countries since I started playing in July 2014.
A little crazy actually.
I was in Nepal just for the golf and in fact only being here for three days I have not gone 500 metres past the airport. Hotel Hema (where I am staying) is 450m from the airport and the golf club is on the same road as the airport.
Everyone I speak with cannot believe that I am not doing anything else besides golf although that said, next time I visit I will be going to see mountains and temples and other golf courses.
I shouldered my clubs and left the hotel weaving across the busy road like a local. Never hesitate is the key just charge out and step around the cars, bikes and buses but do not stop.
Never stop. It seems to work for me.
I did get some strange looks from locals and also western travellers who were all decked out in their trekking gear as they left the airport shouldering backpacks.
I arrived at the club and was told Sachin was on the driving range so off I headed.
As Sachin was finishing a lesson, I got talking with an older gentleman on the range as he asked where I was from. We introduced ourselves and I found out Hem Lama was a champion tennis player and coach who loves golf. I told him I too love golf and when he told me he was turning 90 soon I was incredulous. He looked maybe 70.
Pratima arrived shortly after and as Sachin finished up, Bipin joined us so we grabbed our drivers and headed up to the 1st tee.
We were all teeing off the mens tees. I should not have been and in fact changed it up later as I am not a big hitter and am quite happy acknowledging that.
My first drive was off the bottom of the club and shot left towards the driving range hit a pole and I do believe people ducked as it shot past them.
I yelled fore, laughed and teed it up again.
The course is a wonderful test of golf from the multiple changes in elevation to the hard to read greens (the grass can be a little inconsistent so reading a line can be challenging).
The driving range is left of the 1st tee and the range balls are hit out across the 1st and 9th fairways so you have to be aware of the people playing through and you should also be aware of the monkeys. Particularly those with babies.
In fact both Pratima and Sachin yelled a warning at me not to look at them as they can attack and today when I caddied for Pratima in a tournament, I admit to being a little hesitant to cross the footbridge and waited for Pratima and her playing partners as at a quick count it was me vs 18 monkeys.
I didn’t want to take those odds.
It was wonderful finally being here with Pratima and Sachin. We have been in touch for over a year as Fairways have been helping with golfing costs.
All three of my playing partners can play very well – me not so much. I duffed a few shots although usually managed a bogey or double but I wasn’t actually scoring.
I did chip really well all day and I was very happy with the progress I have made with chipping recently.
Dave, my golf coach in Canada would have been proud.
We chatted and got to know each other better as the three of them had a practice round readying themselves for the tournament today. It was quite busy on the course as all the other professional golfers from around Nepal were in town for the first tournament of the season.
I caddied for Pratima today. There were 39 players – 38 men and Pratima. She can certainly hold her own. In fact she told me today after I asked her how it went when she first started playing with the men that the first time she played a tournament with the men, she won.
Today she was playing with the number 1 golfer in Nepal, Shivaram Shrestha and when his caddy pointed to him and told me he was the number one golfer in Nepal, I responded by pointing at Pratima and saying she was the number one golfer in Nepal. He burst out laughing and nodded his head in agreement.
Pratima is a determined girl who has proven anything is possible and I believe she will continue making headlines and being interviewed by global press helping to promote not only golf in Nepal but her plans of being the first Nepali LPGA tour player.
Bipin would also like to become a professional golfer. He was in the group behind us so I got to watch a little of his play. He played well today with a 3 over par.
As we meandered over the course I marvelled at the Himalayas in the distance stopping to take a moment realising here I am, golfing in Nepal.
I am continually surprised where golf has taken me, the people I have met and I cannot wait to work with Sachin to grow his junior program and discuss expanding into other regions of Nepal.
I am so happy I made the time to come and visit and cannot wait to return next year.