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Indian 'Golf Cities' Fuel Real Estate Boom
Thursday, May 01, 2008

Townships with designer interiors and world-class architecture are passť. Developers are now turning to golf to attract non-resident Indians and high net worth individuals in the premium housing segment.

Residential dwellings built around a golf course are the latest buzzword in the super-premium housing segment of the Indian realty industry, estimated at $15 billion and growing at 35 per cent annually.

"The golf cities make an attractive preposition for NRIs and HNIs who together constitute 50 per cent of buyers in the premium housing segment," Kunal Banerjee, head of corporate communication, Ansal API.

No wonder big players like Unitech, DLF, Ansal API, Omaxe and Jaypee have already taken the plunge with an array of golf-centric projects.

Royal Indian Raj International Corporation, a foreign direct investment company in the Indian real estate sector based out of Vancouver, just last month announced a partnership with golf legend Jack Nicklaus to build as many as eight 18-hole courses as multi-million-dollar centerpieces to the firm's new resort and residential communities across India.

"These high end customers are ready to pay big bucks for a sprawling home amidst the greens with a promise of high class lifestyle," said a spokesman from DLF.

"And even with a hefty price range from Rs.7.5 million to Rs.90 million, these projects have been snapped up like hot cakes," he further added.

DLF Golf and Country Club, Gurgaon, situated on the outskirts of Delhi, is flanked by the twin luxury high-rise residential projects 'The Aralias' and 'Magnolias' inside the 18-hole DLF Golf Course. And DLF is not a case in isolation.

After the Karma Lakelands project in Gurgaon with a 9-hole golf course, Unitech has launched Unitech Grande over 347 acres along the Noida expressway neighboring the capital city. It offers an ultra luxurious residential project built around Greg Norman-designed 18-hole golf course.

In the same locality, Jaypee Green, a township by the Jaypee Group, also boasts of luxury villas and high-rise apartments built around Greg Norman-designed 18-hole golf course. Omaxe is also developing a Golf Theme Township estimated at Rs.18 billion in Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh.

Developers attribute the trend to growing passion for golf among the elites. "Golf is not just a game but it's a symbol of urban upper class lifestyle," Pramod K. Magu, executive vice president, Unitech.

"So from the top brass of the corporate world to those who aspire to arrive in life, everyone finds residences built around the golf course an ideal abode," Magu added. The fact that the project caters to an exclusive segment of society goes in favor of the developers.

"Golf home projects are exclusive projects. Slight slumps in the market that generally slow down the middle housing segments usually do not affect these projects, as the buyer is exclusive and very selective about the property," Magu said.

And the trend is fast spreading from metros to emerging cities. For example, Ansal API's Sushant Golf City Lucknow is spread over 2,000 acres on the outskirts of the Uttar Pradesh capital.

"Earlier golf was restricted to a select group, but it has grown popular over the years with many middle level executives and business class taking active interest in the game," Banerjee said. And with top-tier Indian players like Jeev Milkha Singh and Digvijay Singh teeing off at $ 2.3 million world tournaments, the sport's popularity is booming across the socio-economic spectrum.

That is the reason Ansal API are proposing a Royal Palms Golf and Country Club in Lucknow that will offer residents the services of golf trainers and coaches.

Even Sahara is providing a golf academy to impart professional golf training in its Amby Valley project built around an 18-hole golf course at Lonavala, 96 km from Mumbai.



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