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Golf in India

Paul Beckett reports,,

June, before the monsoon rains arrive, is usually the hottest month here. The average daily high this year was 100.6 degrees Fahrenheit; on 11 days, it exceeded 104 degrees (F. 40 degrees centigrade). The city sank into a desultory lull, the white sun enough to make your eyeballs sweat.

But neither sun nor heatstroke nor the red dust that sweeps through the city in the dry months keeps Delhi's golfers from their appointed tee times. Courses in the area were packed in the mornings starting at first light around 5:30 and just slightly less full in the afternoon. A few players used golf carts; most walked, usually with caddies in tow.

"Forty-five degrees [113 degrees Fahrenheit] is nothing," scoffs Ishwar Verma, a 61-year-old retired Indian Army colonel who plays five days a week and has a handicap of eight. "For me, golf is a passionate and obsessive mind game. It is mentally absorbing and so the temperatures don't really affect me." He wears a cap. His playing partners, he adds, "are more cautious, carrying their umbrellas, water bottles and head gear to protect them from sun stroke."

It was, in fact, Englishmen who brought golf to India. The first club, known today as Royal Calcutta Golf Club, was established in 1829. Until recent years, the sport was dominated by India's elite and retired military officers like Col. Verma, who has been playing for more than two decades.

The summer crowds now can be partly explained by the sport's broadening appeal as incomes rise, India's middle class swells and the price of equipment drops. . .

Beckett also describes the essential lime drink for these outings and other vital details.

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