When you play golf in Nuwara Eliya you will be transported back a hundred years to Sri Lanka’s British colonial days – at times, you might even feel like you’re in the Scottish Highlands until you look closely at the tropical plants and flowers surrounding you. Built by a Scottish soldier of the Golan Highlanders for the British servicemen and officials stationed here in 1889, the course is truly spectacular, set 6,200ft above sea level, surrounded by rolling tea hills and framed by looming mountains. Nuwara Eliya – known as ‘Little England’ – is a charming hill station which was developed by British planters in the late 1800s. This is evident throughout the town: as well as a golf club, the British built a racecourse, tea factories, colonial hotels and planters’ bungalows, all of which seem to be frozen in time in a bygone era.
This challenging course rewards straight hitting from the very first tee, which is a testing shot – made all the more so because you are in full view of the clubhouse. However any dropped shots on the first can be clawed back on the par 5, 2nd, where the green is accessible in two. The par 5, 6th, is the longest hole in Sri Lanka; with a wide fairway it presents the ideal opportunity to pull out the driver and open up your shoulders. Careful with that driver though because the fairways are lined with well-established trees, a slightly wayward shot brings these into play. If you manage to stay clear of the trees further challenges lie in the crags and creeks that bisect the fairways and the remorseless gorse and bunkers, causing many a curse and bogey. The challenging 12th, 13th and 14th holes are referred to as ‘Little Switzerland’ due to their resembling hills. It is also leopard country so let that be warning enough to keep the ball on the fairway.
The clubhouse and bar is an atmospheric place to enjoy a drink and meal after your round. It is full of character and colonial history. Little has changed since the founding of the club and you can even enjoy a log fire on cooler evenings.