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Icons of Colombo

Colombo, a city which has stood for over 2,000 years in the South West of the island of Sri Lanka has come in to prominence for numerous reasons. It was stated as the capital of Ceylon under the British back in 1815 but was replaced by Sri Jayawardenapura in 1982. Within the city of Colombo amongst the growing Metropolitan society there still remains hints of colonial rule.

Through these series of posts I hope to shine light upon certain areas and landmarks within the city that remain the link to the colourful past of Sri Lanka.

The Royal Colombo Golf Club established way back in 1880 on the Galle Face Green and moved to its current location in in 1896. Under King George V it was bestowed with the prefix ‘Royal’. Over its 130 year history the Colombo Golf Club has grown into on of the cities finest established clubs boasting an array of members and guests.

For much of the week the club is buzzing with activity as members and guests play on the sprawling fairways and greens of this secluded haven amidst the madness of Colombo.

Overlooking the fairways is a colonial style clubhouse. It provides the players with a sense that they have stepped back in time to the days when the club was first establishing itself. It also allows those that to wish to sit out on the veranda an escape from the noise and traffic which inhabits the city just up the road.

The beauty of the Golf Club does not lie only in the club house or its history but also in the features that are unknown to those who do not use the course. One sight which greets all that visit the club is the railway line that runs through the course. For many who are not used to this a train blaring its horn and running over the noisy tracks mid shot is a distraction. Yet it slowly grows on you and soon becomes just another obstacle in the course. A train packed with people returning home from work on a weekday evening is a common sight for those playing at the time. Teeing off from the 2nd and 8th holes are often the hardest as they lie adjacent to the train tracks. It is an art to tune out the train as it flies past you with the rhythmic sound of the tracks against the wheels.

The stories of the golf club lie even deeper in the course, it is the caddies and the inhabitants that really give the club its unique identity. Invariably every player on this course has at one time or another sent their ball into the water. And of course they would then have seen a man appear from no where and wade out to collect it for a small fee. I personally do not like having these balls returned as I am superstitious that they are now bad luck.

Personally my game has improved tenfold not because of the clubhouse pro, but rather the caddies that go with me when I play on the course. Seeing some of the boys who work at the range take shots I have realised that sadly the Golf Club does not only retain its colonial look but in some ways its colonial ideas such as ‘haves and have nots’. A lot of these boys would do well in any tournament they were to play in yet sadly do not have the funds to help their future.

Of course the most notable feature of the Royal Colombo Golf club is of course the cheese toast and lime juice. There is a scarce few who have visited the golf club and not tried its famous cheese toast. I may self have indulged on this on numerous occasions often at the expense of a game.

The RCG definitely provides Colombo with a link back to its Colonial past, and is one place that I would recommend a visit to at some point.

Categories: Politics, Travel
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