Responding to demand to grow the game in one of the globe’s burgeoning golf markets, Nicklaus Design, the world’s leading course design firm, has appointed Evolution Golf as its design representatives for India. Led by Shivas Nath, a former player turned golf entrepreneur, Evolution Golf will also work to grow the Nicklaus brand and business throughout the world’s second-most populous nation.
Nicklaus Design opened its first course in India in 1998, with the unveiling of Classic Golf Resort in New Delhi, which has played host to a number of Asian Tour and Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) events. Currently, Nicklaus Design has projects under development in Ahmedabad and Ludhiana, with a number of prospects spread across India, as Nicklaus Design continues to expand its presence in the Asia Pacific Region. Estimates have indicated there are approximately 500,000 golfers among India’s 1.17 billion people, and the number is forecasted to grow at an annual rate of up to 30 percent for the next few years. In addition, more than 30 percent of the country’s estimated 250 courses have opened in the last five years. Through this collaborative effort with Evolution Golf and Nath, Nicklaus Design is positioning itself as the industry leader in India and will help guide quality golf development throughout the country.
“We our proud of our success in recent years throughout Asia,” said Paul Stringer, Executive Vice President for Nicklaus Design. “But as part of Jack Nicklaus’ desire to continue to grow the game worldwide and our initiative to enhance our on-the-ground personnel and representatives in key markets such as China, Korea and now India, we felt it was important to bring in an experienced and forward-thinking person like Shivas Nath. We feel it is not only important to grow the game by designing quality facilities, but there is a responsibility to develop the game at the junior level. We believe strongly in producing good citizens and not just good golfers, and that begins at the junior level. Shivas has a great passion and vision for junior golf in his home country.”
Shean Bedi, a 20-year veteran of the golf and real estate industry who has assisted Nicklaus Design in its Asia Pacific Business Development, spent several months searching for suitable partners to grow the Nicklaus and Nicklaus Design names in India. He eventually recommended Nath and Evolution Golf, which manages a chain of golf shops, operates golf courses and practice ranges, and serves as the distribution for a variety of well-known golf brands. In addition, Evolution Golf runs SNAG Golf, which is considered the top junior golf development program in the country.
This was an important component in the selection process, as Jack Nicklaus has been very passionate about growing the game at the junior level and through quality instruction. It was Nicklaus who served as Global Ambassador for the International Golf Federation’s successful bid to get golf added to the program for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Jack Nicklaus is an icon, not only in the game of golf but in sports in general,” Nath said. “He is a champion on the golf course, but also in the way he has conducted his life and businesses. Playing legacy aside, Jack Nicklaus has designed some of the finest golf courses I have played and it is my proud privilege to be representing the Nicklaus name in India.”
Nicklaus Design, which has been named Golf Course Architect of the Year in the Asia Pacific Region the last two years by Asian Golf Monthly and Asian Golf Business, has 345 courses open for play in 34 countries. Of those, 63 have been ranked in various national or international Top-100 lists and no fewer than 90 have hosted a professional tournament worldwide or a significant national amateur championship in the United States. Last year alone, no fewer than 15 Nicklaus courses hosted PGA Tour-sanctioned events.
Nicklaus Design currently has more than 30 courses under construction and projects under development in 47 different countries—with more than half of those countries representing markets in which Nicklaus Design has never before been involved. As the firm enters these new markets, they take with them a decades-old mandate from Jack Nicklaus to embrace, protect and enhance the natural environment. Because of that, Nicklaus Design has been a leader in environmentally sensitive and responsible “green” golf course design and lauded worldwide for its efforts.
“Nicklaus Design is a group of golf course architects who not only are passionate and knowledgeable about design, but they carry a wealth of experience and their attention to detail is unmatched in the industry,” Nath added. “We could not have found a better name or company to represent in India.”