Appeared in 2016 Fall issue of LINKS Magazine
Nepal is a land of wonderful extremes. Library-like quiet in its mountains and chaotic energy in Kathmandu, the capital. Spirituality is everywhere: Multicolored prayer flags flutter in the breeze and Buddhist lamas pass you on mountain trails. The beauty of the country is topped only by that of the Nepali spirit, all kindness and smiles.
Just as extreme is the golf, played on half-a-dozen courses, all of them set at about a mile above sea level. There are 31 million people in Nepal, and only 700 are golfers. But of those, one in 10 is a pro, giving Nepal the highest pro-per-golfer-capita in the world. Pros earn their cards at a high-pressure Q-school, held each year at Royal Nepal Golf Club, which is where any Nepali golf adventure should begin.
The country’s oldest club, Royal Nepal was founded in 1917 and granted royal status in 1965 by his late Majesty King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev. A par-67, 5,410-yard design, RNGC is on the east side of Kathmandu, across the street from Tribhuvan International Airport, meaning it’s possible to walk out of the international arrivals terminal and be on the first tee in minutes. (For the record, playing golf in Nepal means playing in the future, since the local calendar differs from Western calendars and it’s currently 2073.)