16 August, Kathmandu. Shyam Tamang, who was participating in a corporate golf tournament, was very impressed with the level of the course when he registered for the first golf tournament at the highest altitude in the world. Because he had not seen the newly built golf course at Lomanthang in Mustang at an altitude of 4,645 meters.
As soon as we say Mustang, most of us think of a desolate steep terrain along the Gegran. I was worried that the gegrans (small stones) would erode the iron on the golf course,’ said Tamang, who returned to Kathmandu after scoring 22 runs in the Stapleford 3-4 handicap format.
He reached the competition venue on 10th August, a day before the competition. He was surprised. After cutting Gegran mountain above 3700 m, 4500 m above is completely green. Hari Chaur (Kharak) in the lap of the mountain was a reality beyond Tamang’s expectations. “I have learned not to form an opinion on any subject based on what I have heard and guessed,” Tamang said.
36 golfers including three women participated in the tournament jointly organized by Lomanthang Youth Club and Lomanthang Rural Municipality. 21 from Kathmandu, 10 from Pokhara, 2-2 each from Mustang and Butwal and one American golfer participated. The tournament began after a tee-off by 81-year-old Dr. Rita Thapa.
The tournament, called the Top of the World Golf Classic, was originally organized to formally convey the message that it is possible to play golf while on a Mustang. Now an initiative will be taken to register the 9-hole golf course in the Guinness Book of World Records. For this, Nepal Professional Golfers Association will take the initiative.
Tamang, the winner of the competition, said, “It was great fun to see all the villagers of Lomanthang, local public representatives and MPs working together to make the competition a success.” The mother group was catering. Others were involved in managing some competitions.
Tamang, the winner of the first official tournament, said the height of the Mustang would be excellent for promoting commercial golf and tourism. Typically, greens are required on golf courses. With 81 year old Dr. Thapa and 74 year old Vijay Moktan playing, it has been proved that the problem of height will be reduced. However, Tamang said that he should reach Lomanthang a day earlier to make the environment suitable.
There is a natural concrete valley in the Lomanthang area. After reaching 700 meters above there is Hara Samthar Chaur,’ Tamang said, ‘After crossing one hole, there is also an area to reach the next 9 holes. If it can also be used, it will be an excellent choice as an elevation course for professional golfers.’
Presently the course has been built using natural land. Tamang said some infrastructure work and land upgradation is necessary. “It is necessary to improve Putting Green by bringing state-of-the-art grass. A tea box is needed.’
Tamang compared the region to Las Vegas, Nevada in the US. He believes that this will help in promoting tourism under the pretext of sports. Since Lomanthang is a tourist area, it is not very inconvenient to live in.
He, who has been playing golf for three years, said that the course will also attract world’s renowned professional golfers here. Tamang said that if Nepalese and foreign golfers can be made members of Mustang Golf Course, the support received from them will be a financial resource for upgrading and managing the course.
State Assembly member Bista’s dream
The Lomanthang area is situated at an altitude of 3800 meters, 12 km northwest of the main tourist area of Muster. It is basically land used as grazing area (khark). The motorway has reached this area in Ward No. 5 of Lomanthang Rural Municipality. It is also a road connecting Khyaga Lake and Dolpa district of Mustang.
‘When I visited the Arizona region of America, I saw golf courses there. Indradhara Bista, the head of the course construction campaign and the provincial representative of Lomanthang, told Online News that the golf course could be built at the same height at my site. Lomanthang falls in the state assembly constituency ‘A’ of Mustang.
The construction of this course has been started by allocating a budget of Rs 10 lakh in the financial year 2078-79. That budget included hole construction, tea-box construction, field grass maintenance, installation of rollers and installation of greens. He said that the land and soil there was not level, so the put green could not be leveled even if rollers were used.
The Tarthang area in Ward No. 3 of Lomanthang Rural Municipality, which is connected to Lomanthang, also has substantial flat land. The two regions are separated by a deep and narrow valley. The flat area of Tarthang is spread over an area of 4.5 km, which is about 1 km more than that of Lomanthang. “The goal is to build a conventional bridge using local manpower where required, and an 18-hole commercial course including the circumference area,” Bisht said.
So far, the Yak Golf Course in Sikkim, India has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest golf course in the world. According to Bista, a member of the provincial assembly, the process of obtaining a certificate for a high-ranking golf course will begin after the formal competition plan is successful.
Bista, a member of the provincial assembly, believes that if the course can be registered in the Guinness Book and an 18-hole facility can be built, it will attract the attention of professional golfers from around the world, and this will lead to the development of the Mustang. Tourism will be of great help. If this happens then his dream will come true.
“Climbing enthusiasts dream of reaching the top of Mount Everest, similarly we are working to make it the dream of golfers around the world to play on the Mustang course,” he said about the reason for investing in golf. He said, ‘Golf is a sport of attraction for people with rich access all over the world. If we can attract them, we can make Mustangs prosper through tourism.’
For Nepalese amateur and professional golfers, the Mustang’s course will be a suitable choice for practicing in the rainy season for two reasons. First – altitude and second – favorable weather in the mountains. It rains from June to October in the hills and plains of Nepal. Since golf is an outdoor sport, it is impossible to play there. However, these four months of the rainy season are the best in the Himalayan region, he said.
This has started. A lot of work needs to be done to make the course the choice of golfers around the world. MP Bisht said that regular budget will be allocated for the construction of flat land and necessary physical structures.