India’s golf boom attracts game-changing investment
Urban simulator brand Five Iron Golf is to open its first outlet in India, the world’s second most populous country, as demand surges post-pandemic.
Five Iron Golf India will open on the first floor of Delhi’s Grand Venice Mall and will be its second international franchise, alongside Five Iron Golf Singapore.
The US-based company is investing at a time when India is experiencing its biggest-ever rise in golf participation.
The urban golf venue will give people the opportunity to virtually play the world’s greatest courses, enjoy game-based practice and data-driven coaching, on seven custom-built simulators fitted with TrackMan launch monitors.
Developed through a strategic partnership with Hoche Partners Golf Studios Private Limited and DS Group, owners of the Grand Venice Mall, Five Iron Golf India will include entertainment zones, full-service bar and restaurant.
Jared Solomon, CEO and co-founder of Five Iron Golf said: “To be able to participate in the modern golf movement and grow the game globally is exactly why we created Five Iron Golf. We remain committed to breaking down any barriers to play and are excited to plant our roots in India.”
India has 231 golf courses, including some of the oldest in the world outside the United Kingdom, but golf has always been considered an elite sport inaccessible to the majority of its 1.4 billion citizens.
“We see tremendous potential for golf in India, where the general population has had little or no access to golf as a recreational activity,” said Gregg Hayden, partner at Hoche Partners Golf Studios.
“Five Iron Golf India will change this by providing a fun, social setting to enjoy golf and top-notch food and beverage with family, dates, co-workers and friends.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has been identified as the catalyst for change in Indian attitudes towards playing golf.
According to the Professional Golfers’ Association of India, there has been a three-fold increase in sales of equipment, use of facilities and people entering the sport since 2020.
Romit Bose runs the Siri Fort Golf Driving Range in Delhi and told The Hindu newspaper that he now welcomes around 200 golfers per day to play golf, a figure which almost doubles at weekends.
Bose says the pandemic meant more people had time on their hands and were keen to prioritise health and fitness. Golf was a socially distanced sport played outside and quickly attracted new starters.
There are now 200,000 registered golfers in India and the profile of Indian golf is being boosted on the world stage by professionals like Aditi Ashok, who finished fourth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Anirban Lahiri, Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Shubhankar Sharma, who have all played on The PGA Tour and DP World Tour.
Five Iron Golf was founded in Manhattan in 2017 and has since expanded across nine US cities with 15 domestic locations and an international franchise in Singapore.
Last year saw Topgolf Callaway Brands become a minority investment partner in Five Iron Golf via a $30m cash injection into the business.