The Delhi Golf Club (DGC) is a prominent golf club situated in Delhi, India. It has ultra restrictive membership, with well over a waiting period of over 50 years for prospective members. It is located on 180 acres of prime real estate on lease from the government, on Dr. Zakir Hussain Road, in the New Delhi Municipal Council area of New Delhi. It is close to Delhi's top tourist sites of India Gate, Humayun's Tomb, Delhi Zoo, and Lodhi Gardens. DGC comprises 18-hole course which is part of the Asian PGA Tour, and a shorter 9-hole course, and sprawling club house with swimming pool.
The original course, called the Lodhi Golf Club, laid out in the 1930s by the then Chief of the Horticultural Department, was much larger than the present walled area, and included parts of present Golf Links and Kaka Nagar. The Lodhi Golf Club, however, had few members, and was barely sustainable, except for a brief period during the Second World War when Delhi was awash with Allied officers who patronized the club. In 1948, the club had eighty members, and in 1951, when it became the Delhi Golf Club (DGC), its membership was no more than 120, and was barely sustainable. The Club was saved from dissolution by Indian officers belonging to the Indian Civil Service, including Dharma Vira, founder member of the DGC, who petitioned Prime Minister Nehru to lease the government land to the club at a low annual rent for thirty years. Since that time, the Government of India has favored the DGC with very permissive lease terms and low annual rents that have no relationship to the actual value of the land. The DGC has evolved as a favorite watering hole for senior Civil Servants, Police Officers and the business and social elite. The walled area of the club includes a large number of interesting Mughal archeological remains such as the famous Lal Bangla.
The course comprises the championship 18-hole "Lodhi Course", which is part of the Asian PGA Tour, and the shorter 9-hole "Peacock Course". The latter came into being when the course was re-designed by Peter Thomson in 1976-77. The DGC hosts various tournaments and cups, such as the Indian Open.
The DGC was founded as a municipal course. After 1947, it mutated into a corporate entity on 24 February 1950. Since 1956, it has been registered as a company under the provisions of the Companies Act 1956. On 30 August 2013, the Information Commissioner M.L. Sharma, in response to an RTI petition, disagreed with the president of the DGC that the DGC was a company. He ruled that the DGC was a 'public authority', under section 2(h)(d)(i) of the Right to Information Act (RTI), as it receives "indirect financing" from the central Government and has many senior government officers in the DGC management committee. It was thus "answerable to members of the public". However it bars the entry of people randomly if the ultra elitist management thinks that person looks like a 'maid'. Thus it stands against the constitution of India that promises equality to Indian citizens.
The Delhi Golf Club has an area of 220 acres. The DGC club house, including the course, is on government land. The lease for the land is periodically renewed by the government at a rate which has no relationship to the market value of the land. The current annual rent that the club pays to the government is just Rs 5.82 lakh per year (approximately US$9700 at Rs 60 to a dollar). In 2012, eight years before the lease was due for renewal, Kamal Nath, the Minister of Urban Development in the United Progressive Alliance government, approved extension of the lease until 2050. The DGC has about 4000 members, a majority of whom are serving or retired members of the Indian Civil Services, judges, and politicians. There is considerable clamor to gain membership in the club.
The ultra elitist and racist DGC management committee has three nominees from the MUD & PA as 'A' category members for a term of two years. Additionally, according to the DGC Rules, every fifth member of the committee is a government nominee with full voting rights.
The majority of DGC members are public servants like former or serving civil servants and high officials. In addition to these permanent members, the MUD & PA has, according to the DGC rules, the right to nominate 150 civil servants posted in Delhi with the pay grade of Joint Secretary and above as tenure members. This is in addition to the 20 members that the Chief Justice of India and Chief Justice of Delhi High Court have the right to nominate; and 5 senior law officers that the Law Ministry nominates.
In 2012, after the Government renewed the lease of DGC, the Ministry of Urban Development recommended eighteen persons for DGC membership. These included a "famous fashion designer, a junior Central Minister, the son of the Chief Minister of a northern Congress-ruled state, a couple of high-profile lawyers and a senior bureaucrat". The Ministry, in a letter to the DGC management, informed that "it would nominate a total of 25 people under the 'Limited Playing Rights (LPR) regular membership category' and 15 under 'Out of Turn Regular membership category' over a period of time".
The DGC management committee consists of a President, a Course Captain and twelve general committee members, excluding government nominated members. Posts on the management committee are filled through election. These are usually held in September.
Maj. Ravinder Singh Bedi (Retd) has been appointed as President for 2019-2020.
Mr. Rohit Sabherwal, FCA has been appointed as captain for 2019-2020.
The DGC, despite its many acres, has not escaped Delhi's poor air quality. In the evening illumination, as well as the early morning sun, "the shroud of carcinogenic particles hovering above the bunkers and greens" are very visible.
In June 2017, a woman named Tailin Lyngdoh, a Khasi, had gone to the Club along with her employer Nivedita Barthakur after they were invited for lunch by a member of the Club. However, 15-20 minutes into the lunch, two Club officials asked Lyngdoh to leave the table saying the dress (Jainsem) she was wearing was a "maid's uniform" which looked like a "dustbin" and also allegedly hurled racial abuse at her. This incident was widely covered in the Indian media condemning the classism attitude of the Delhi Golf Club and elite clubs of India in general.
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