ALPESH PARIKH

Tremendous change in club culture

This month’s guest columnist is owner of Ahmedabad-based golf and country club, Gulmohar Greens. He writes about the changing profile of club culture in India

BY: ALPESH PARIKH

If you look back about 30 years ago, clubs were seen as places of taboo and meant for gambling. They were looked at as places where only people from high society would use it for their entertainment and where gambling would be widespread.

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Today, club culture has undergone tremendous change, not just in Ahmedabad, but across India. They are looked at more from the recreational point of view, as a networking point where you could go out and meet like-minded people.
Clubs are seen as places for young families who could use the facilities to improve their fitness, where young children learn swimming, tennis, badminton, squash or billiards.
A lot of young parents and middle-aged families have become highly motivated about fitness. Our parents or grandparents were not as fit as today’s 40-year-olds.

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Golf is the talk of the town in a lot of social circles because it is one sport which can be played by all. It is a game which you can play with your friends while you talk.

Earlier, when one was over a certain age, the person was expected to take medication for diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol. However, things have changed and today people are increasingly conscious about being healthy and fitness conscious.
To a great extent this is where all these clubs come into the picture. The best gyms are available with the best equipment and trainers, who are there to ensure that their members get the best facilities.
Way back in 2005 when we were conceptualising Gulmohar Greens, we wanted to bring golf to Ahmedabad. And we were the first to do so. The only golf facility was the Army Golf Club which was not accessible for all. There were other clubs in the making, but still not ready, when we came up.
Even after 12 years, we are the closest golf course to the city. When we decided to do up the facilities, our main idea was to create something for young families in Ahmedabad. That’s how Gulmohar

Greens came into being – as a place to recreate, meet like-minded people, and a weekend getaway. Gen X is who we cater to.
The first thing we thought of was establishing a sports complex as an independent facility. Many other clubs in Ahmedabad never thought of giving enough importance to sporting facilities. At Gulmohar our main focus was sports.
Golf is the talk of the town in a lot of social circles because it is one sport which can be played by all. It is a game which you can play with your friends while you talk; so it also added up in the form where lot of business started happening apart from general socialising.
A lot of deals are cracked on the golf course. It has slowly converted from an elite to a common man’s sport. The city now recognises it as ‘reachable’.
Another transition from sports is that people look for clubs for weddings and social gatherings. Clubs are a major hit with corporate annual events and product launches too.

In a resort ambience, five star facilities at competitive prices is working well with them.

As a club, we can offer them much more than what any five-star hotel could.
The whole image of what a club used to be – from a room filled with smoke and a lot of kind of people to a sophisticated property with multiple activities available – has been a brilliant transition.
Going to clubs is now a pleasurable activity and they can cater to every audience. From a 3-year-old toddler who wishes to play in a sand pit to an 80-year-old who wishes to read in the library, there is something for everyone.
The movie watching experience is redefined with private theatres too.
These days, clubs have been able to carve out a niche segment for themselves in the hospitality industry and have become one of the ideal places for everyone to go to.