N.N. Gupta was tired of the neighbourhood stray dogs and cows, noisy vegetable vendors and the clutter of new construction spoiling his view.
So Gupta, a 61-year-old executive director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, moved from East Delhi three months ago to a spot in Greater Noida where he says his view and peace will never be disturbed.
Gupta and his wife now live in the 450-acre Jaypee Greens Greater Noida golf village. Their five-bedroom house overlooks an 18-hole championship-level golf course designed by legendary golfer Greg Norman.
The Guptas don’t play golf, but it doesn’t bother them or their neighbours. Only about 20% of the Jaypee Greens’ homebuyers are avid golfers, the developer said. “You don’t need to play golf,” Gupta said. “The environment here is noise-free and pollution-free and there’s so much greenery.”
Golf courses are no longer just places the wealthy go to play, increasingly it’s where they go home to sleep. Developers, as they have for years in other parts of the world, are starting to build villas and luxury apartments within golf complexes. Residents pay a premium for a golf view—at least 30%—over a typical home and the maintenance fee can be 300% higher than the usual fee, said Raminder Grover, chief executive officer of High Street Residential, a subsidiary of Trammell Crow Meghraj. But it costs about 25-30% more to build one of these developments because it involves building and landscaping the course in addition to building premium houses, Grover said.
The golf course serves as a giant park that is beautifully manicured and regularly maintained, developers said.
“They want that lifestyle,” Grover said. “They want to get up in the morning and to be looking at the greens.”
Only a small number of these golfing communities are operating, but many more are planned, Grover said.
Emaar MGF is planning a community in Hyderabad. Real-estate giant DLF Ltd, which opened the DLF Golf and Country Club designed by Arnold Palmer in Gurgaon in 1999, is nearly finished with Aralia, about 250 apartments overlooking that course and is planning another 18-hole course nearby that would have apartments around it, a DLF official said.
Unitech Ltd’s Karma Lakelands project at Manesar in Gurgaon will include luxury villas and a nine-hole golf course. Ansal Properties & Infrastructure Ltd is planning a golf city in Lucknow that will feature apartments and villas alongside a championship golf course. Samira Habitats is building 18 luxury villas around a nine-hole golf course in Alibag, a coastal town outside Mumbai (the developer says the homes will start at Rs3 crore). And Vancouver-based Royal Indian Raj International Corp. plans to open a series of townships across the country that would feature Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses.
Eagleton Golf Village in Bangalore, one of the few established communities, sells golfside plots. About 200 homes are in various stages of construction and about 1,300-1,500 plots have been sold, according to the developer, Chamundeswari Buildtech Pvt. Ltd.
The projects tend to be marketed to the very rich. Some projects are by invitation only.
Grover, whose company is coming out with a book on luxury housing next month, said the demand now outstrips supply, which is small, but growing. But the golf villa prices probably won’t escalate as quickly as conventional houses because the pool of buyers will always be limited, Grover said.
And a golf lifestyle isn’t for everybody.
“You’re completely cut off from the hustle and bustle...of regular town life,” Grover said.
“If you’re someone looking for peace and quiet, this is the place to go,” he added.
About 10 families now live in Jaypee Greens, which will eventually have about 1,400 houses and apartments. It will also have a sports complex, an additional nine-hole chip-and-putt course and resort spa hotel. The apartments will start at Rs85 lakh for a studio and the estate homes will cost from Rs5 crore to Rs15 crore.
Jaiprakash Associates Ltd, which is building Jaypee Greens, is also planning a second golf course project that will be part of a larger township it will build in Noida.
By their nature, golf club projects give residents a feeling of security and exclusivity. But it also comes with some handicaps, such as the lack of neighbourhood shopping at the doorstep.
But Alan Sippy, chief executive officer of lifestyle projects for Samira Habitats, said there’s something more. “The view…tells them they’re in paradise,” Sippy said.
“Golf gives people a feeling that they’ve reached somewhere in life…that’s paramount for people investing that kind of money,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gupta said he’s getting up at 5.30am these days just to walk around the greens. He is also thinking about taking golf lessons.
And he’s had just one stray golf ball break a window. But he wasn’t bothered.
“Why should I mind?” he said. “I feel that the golfball was calling me again to the field.”