Sri Lanka’s Lord’s of golf | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka’s Lord’s of golf

3 January, 2021
General view of the Victoria Golf and Country Resort in Digana, Kandy
General view of the Victoria Golf and Country Resort in Digana, Kandy

The Victoria Golf and Country Resort (VGCR) in Digana, Kandy is considered one of the most picturesque courses in Asia and participating on this course means both competition and fun to a very satisfying level. Now with the venue being taken over by one of Sri Lanka’s largest establishments, John Keells Holdings, the course will be upgraded within two years according to officials.

The man behind the scene is none other than the amiable Ana Punchihewa who has taken over as the consultant who will supervise upgrading the course to the best international standards. Punchihewa was interestingly the president of the Board of Control for Cricket Sri Lanka when the country won the World Cup in 1996.

Though the Digana course was well laid out originally, it faced a bevy of restrictions which prohibited the course from being built to the best international standards.

Punchihewa then looked forward to hiring an expert developer in Sam Sakocius, an internationally acclaimed, award winning golf developer from the USA, to working on the project.

“It was a huge dilemma since there never really was adequate infrastructure to bring the project to international standards without major additions and upgrades,” said Punchihewa.

Sakocius is over the moon at his new assignment and looks forward to creating a masterpiece.

“From the moment I stepped on the site I was in love with it. I have seen a lot of pretty places for a golf course and can say I have never seen a prettier one. Fantastic elevation changes, spectacular vistas, grand views of the Victoria Reservoir, the place had it all,” said Sam Sakocius. In consultation with some amazing engineers they were able to construct an infrastructure that allowed for automatic watering drawn from miles away. With this foundation it allowed for the importation of the latest hybrid golf turf grasses which were flown in refrigerated containers from the USA for use in the new fairways.

The green edges around the bunkers were modified with a modern drainage systems in the bunkers to assure that the sand is always dry and playable. The layout was always good so that was left largely intact with the addition of a few tees and strategically placed bunkers mostly to put back some of the challenge that the advancement of golf equipment over the years had made obsolete.

The golf side bungalows were refurbished as well as some of the amazing rental villas around the property, including the swimming pool which is precipitously perched high above the resort.

The locker rooms and patio areas were redone with the addition of a lovely new terrace bar overlooking several holes below. Finally, the entire team was overjoyed to be able to engage a company called TROON Management to take over operations and maintenance.

“TROON is the largest golf club management company in the world and their brand is synonymous with quality.

“Now an eye-popping luxury real estate villa development is underway and when completed, promises to add the final piece to a world class experience,” added Punchihewa.

It is not surprising that the upgraded course has already been awarded as one of the “Most Memorable” courses in Asia by Destination Golf magazine. Likewise, Destination Golf and the prestigious Golf Course Architecture magazines both have run feature articles on the redevelopment.