THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has sanctioned Rs 24.64 crore to upgrade its Trivandrum Golf course to attract international tourists. When realised, it will be the first in country with permanent night golfing. As a part of the project, the nine-hole golf course will soon get a Rs 3.2 crore irrigation facility which will use purified waste water from Hindustan Life Care Factory located nearby. "Golf courses in Japan have become so unaffordable that people from that country now fly to Malaysia to play golf. Such is the potential of golf tourism. There is a 9 per cent annual growth in the number of international tourists to Kerala. Also, golf is an important hobby for those in corporate world. Hence this can generate revenue," said Jiji Thomson, former SAI Director.
Presently the SAI academy coaches around 26 students from various income groups and it aims to nurture budding golfers. Last year, around 60 international tourists has used the facility and the academy wants to raise the number manifold. "Now Golf is an Olympic sport and we are nurturing budding golfers. It is not an elite game anymore," he added. Intelligent solar flood light system that will switch on and off detecting human presence will be installed at the cost of Rs 4. 8 crore. New landscaping retaining all old trees, tourism facilitation and recreation centre including a swimming pool also are being planned here. The Trivandrum Golf Club was one of the oldest in the world outside the UK and was rechristened as SAI Golf Club in September 2014. The 25-acre golf club was in a dilapidated state and was being refurbished in association with Bradmoor Golf Club, Colarado, US and Arnold Palmer academy.