(Mr. Fida Iqbal, 49, was born in Sopore. He attended the D.A.V. School in Nayadyaar, Rainawari, and the Government Higher Secondary School in Sopore. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in Agriculture/Floriculture and Landscaping from Chowdhry Chottu Ram College at Muzaffarabad Nagar in Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Iqbal works with the Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Department as a landscape architect. He enjoys kitchen gardening, reading writing, and is very a passionate and dedicated golf player.)
The Lost Sheen
Every time my visit to Royal Springs Golf Course (RSGC) reminds me of my first trip to this magnificently carved golf course. At the first sight the mesmerizing and ecstatic beauty of the place gives an imagination of idyllic ‘Garden of Eden’. Designer Robert Trend Jones-II and Dr. Farooq Abdullah will always be remembered for creating such a marvelous masterpiece of landscape. Like any other striking and prominent venture in Kashmir RSGC had to go through the political grind and administrative hiccups. The pathetic state of affairs to which RSGC got in during last many years makes every sensible golfer and RSGC enthusiast to yearn for its splendid past. I am no exception to this nostalgic hangover about pristine grandeur of RSGC’s past.
Recently Mr. B.R.Singh one of the pioneers of RSGC has rightly pointed out some administrative and maintenance flaws. I appreciate the golfing knowledge of Mr. Singh and his keen interest in the affairs of the RSGC even after his retirement from active service. His contribution as member of the core committee for RSGC project implementation and valued advice during execution of the project cannot be ignored in any case. However, the existing administrative problems and technical hurdles faced by the RSGC at this juncture is manifestation of subjective decisions taken by the commanding group at the time of establishment of RSGC and Mr.Singh in no way can be absolved of such skewed judgments. Mr.Singh in his write-up has appropriately drawn and suggested a distinctive line between course management and the routine administration of the club. For last many years authorities are unable to distinguish between course management and the club administration. Here again the fault lies with the system created and put in place by the pioneers. The earlier ad-hoc arrangements of administration and management at RSGC, prevalent even at present have ruined the work culture and sense of accountability and its effects are markedly visible. The crafted rules regarding membership norms by successive governments has encouraged the ad-hoc culture as many influential administrators took turns to head RSGC just to gain the direct membership of the club at no extra cost.
Mr. Singh’s emphasis on imperative knowledge and expertise for course and turf managers is undoubtedly the essence of proper and precise golf course maintenance schedule. However his poor opinion about turf management expertise within the country particularly Kashmir is bereft of any sound reasoning. RSGC is not the only venture in the country where exotic crops have been introduced. Many projects of much greater aesthetic importance and sustenance value with diverse parameters of inputs and scientific expertise are being managed by native human resource to the best satisfaction of the foreign associates. Agrostology, the scientific study of grasses, prominently monocots (possessing only one cotyledon) flowering plants belonging to family Poaceae or Gramineae is not merely cultivation of grasses but also has an important role in urban and environmental horticulture, turf-grass management, sod production, and other related ecological and conservation aspects. Agrostology is a complete science of grasses and turf management is just a component of its practical part with effects of aesthetics and perfection. This definition and fundamental concept of Agrostology is internationally accepted and documented. All the exotic turf crops ( Bent grass , Kentucky blue, and Tall fescue) cultivated at RSGC belong to family Poaceae, and excepting Ketucky blue are well adapted to climatic conditions of Kashmir but strictly under proper scientific maintenance procedure. There are some difficulties in sustaining the Kentucky blue grass in fairways and the main reasons for its decay and surrender to native Bermuda grass ( Cynodon dactylon) is faulty selection of the crop with respect to Hardiness Zone and subsequent poor maintenance particularly fertilizer schedule and irrigation regimen. Agrostology as a science is very well established in the country and Kashmir noways lags behind in this field. More precisely the agriculture scientists in Kashmir are well versed with cool climate grasses because of the existing climatic conditions in the region and Hardiness zone parameters similar to cool climate turf crops. Undermining the capability and technical knowhow of local turf managers will not be fair. Yes, they genuinely require some fine tuning and constant touch with latest developments and progress in the field of turf cultivation and management.
For last many years RSGC is suffering from technical and administrative inattention. Every entity within the huge human resource pool is behaving like an authority unto him; bothered only about prospects of their career. A situation of confusion has gripped the RSGC and its organization, pushing once Asia’s impressive golf course into state of gradual extinction. This one time internationally acclaimed institution can be brought back to life by giving some preferential attention to its administrative system and maintenance structure but with better sense and genuine scientific approach.