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Dhekne is a typical Indian golfer. Now 50, he's well-educated (he received a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Bombay), a good cricketer (he was the star of his college team) and has worked in the U.S. While munching on a fried-egg sandwich at the snack bar near the 7th green, Dhekne tells me why he took up golf six years ago: "Because my joints were too creaky for cricket, and golf is pretty good for business."
Eagleton is an attractive new world for upwardly mobile Indians. The $10 million resort sits on 460 acres, has a 108-room hotel and boasts a Peter Thomson-- designed course, a hilly 6,632-yard par-72 with the largest and slickest greens in India. Eagleton also has some of the city's hottest real estate--the price of a quarter-acre lot has risen 1,000%, to $325,000, over the last five years. Since the club opened in 2000, more than 1,500 people have paid the $7,500 lifetime membership fee. "It's the only place where you can pay and play today," says Dhekne. Bangalore has only five other courses. Three are owned by the military, and the other two, KGA and Bangalore Golf Club, have decades-long waiting lists.
After topping his drive at 14, a 364-yard par-4, Dhekne, a 20 handicapper, holds up his driver and points it at the sky. "This thing stinks!" he says.
"What is it?" I ask.
On the 18th tee he asks me to try his driver. I rip one down the middle. "Want to buy it?" asks Dhekne. "Twenty bucks."
"No thanks," I reply. "In America we have a phrase for golfers like you. We say, 'It's not the arrow; it's the Indian.'"
Bangalore was a soporific outpost in the early 1980s. There were two hotels, no office parks and so much green space that it was called the Garden City. In 1985 Texas Instruments opened a research facility in the city and thus became the first multinational company in modern India. Today Bangalore is a concrete jungle at the nexus of the global economy and home to India's richest man (Azim Premji, founder of the software company Wipro) and woman (Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, founder of the pharmaceutical giant Biocon).
Another Bangalorean hoping to strike gold is Amit Saran. But Saran, 51, is into golf. "Golf is a real business model that's only going up," Saran tells me while sipping a double espresso at an outdoor caf� in town. "Look at all the yuppies around us. They have disposable income. My job is to persuade them to spend it on golf."