A tranquil oasis in the heart of Colombo, the Royal Colombo Golf Club offers a welcome escape from the busy streets of Sri Lanka’s capital and has a course which is ideal for golfers of mixed abilities. Built in 1879, it was the second club in the world to receive the royal charter – and it is certainly worthy of this accolade. The course is tight and challenging, 5,770 metres of fairways which reward both strategic defensive golf and long hitting. Whilst the fairways are wide and inviting, unless you are accurate off the tee huge trees and other obstacles will hinder your second shot. If the towering trees are not enough of a hazard, the course also has 13 well-placed water traps to avoid – from the very first hole, where a lake protects the green, water comes into play. These hazards are also home to a number of local giant monitor lizards, so beware!
Each hole on this course presents a different challenge, and the course is deceptively difficult. One of the more testing holes on this course is the par 3, 13th, which requires a daunting shot over the water to a bunker-protected green on the other side. While Royal Colombo does not match Victoria Golf Course or the golf course in Nuwara Eliya for scenery, the course does offer a unique golfing experience – the Kelani Valley railway runs along the 6th fairway, and crowded trains occasionally clatter through the course and is a lush oasis of tranquillity in the city centre.
The clubhouse stands in testament to a bygone era: its architecture and old-fashioned interiors are reminiscent of the British colonial period. The teak-panelled Governor’s Bar has a cool veranda, a delightful place to enjoy a drink and discuss the round, as well as a good selection of wines and a wide-ranging menu. There is also well-stocked pro shop which has a selection of clubs and bags for hire.