Create Players, Not Golf Swings: The Rise of Junior Golf in India

On today’s blog, Lead Instructor Shivtaj Singh talks about the importance of developing Junior Golf throughout India and its role in growing the game as a whole. 

 
The year was 1992, the city was Guwahati in Assam (Eastern India). This is where I, for the first time at the tender age of 4, ever held what we call a golf club. That was my first ever outing on the greens accompanying my father who at the time was serving in the Indian Armed Forces.

 
It was that one time that I held a 5 iron and yes that one shot that started my relationship with the game. For the most part, back in the day it was just a handful of individuals, to be precise privileged individuals from the upper strata of society, who had access to the luxurious sport of golf. A point to note here is that when one says individuals one refers to adults. Junior golf did exist but was lurking somewhere in the dark.

 
As years went by we as a society evolved and yes we did take steps to bring junior golf to light. The game which was once considered or seen as an elitist and unaccessible sport was beginning to get attention from the younger generations.
We all know that there is no substitute for experience. Being introduced to the sport at a very young age helped me to achieve success in other fields too. The game moulded my hand-eye coordination which saw me achieve success in other sports. As a junior having to perform such complex movements that are involved in the golf swing not only taught me to coordinate my muscles but simultaneously structured my mind. It not only helped me to achieve success outdoors but showed me how to get results indoors too. It made my mind sharper, quicker and more focused. All of it happened in the subconscious and it gave me an edge over the rest.

 
The misconception that surrounds the sport is that being of slow, boring and unathletic – and in a county obsessed by cricket, the junior language spoken was cricket from schools to parks to homes. Only parents who play golf actually encouraged the sport otherwise it was no where to be seen or heard. Only through learning from the West and over time, as we are moving from a developing country to a developed country, we are seeing a change. A change which is giving junior golf and junior golf programmes a voice which is being heard by the nation. Golf is no longer considered a boring and unathletic sport, it is cultivating individuals into Athletes first and golfers second. Golfers today are getting fitter and stronger . Only the strong ones – mentally and physically – will survive.
“Start young, grow bold, mature fearless”.

 
Having spoken about golf and its benefits for youngsters one must bring to light the efforts being put in by the governing body of golf in India popularly known as the Indian Golf Union (IGU).The IGU, India’s apex golf body since 1955 has been the front runner in promoting the game. Through its vision for the game it has in collaboration with Rolex and premier financial institute YES Bank helped develop the game and has made is accessible to the masses. The past few years has seen the game grow at a steady upward pace with major emphasis being on junior golf through development of golf infrastructure (golf ranges, & courses) and training of professional coaches (NGAI).

 
We have to give the IGU credit for making headway in providing our juniors a playing field for competitive golf. It hosts almost 15 tournaments for both boys and girls domestically and some international exposure too with 3 to 4 tournaments annually. There are two categories for Boys according to the age , A (15-17) , B (13 – 14). As far as the Girls are concerned there are three categories according to the age, A (15-17),B (13-14) and C (11-12). Juniors like Shubham Jaglan (10 years) won the International Junior Golf Association (IJGA) World Stars of Junior Golf event and the World Junior Golf Championship last year. IGU also supported Ranveer Saini suffering from autism in creating history and being the pride of this country with his achievements. He went on to win a gold medal at the special Olympics world games last year in Los Angeles. These juniors and many more like them solidify the fact that yes we do have talent and champions born amongst us who are ready to step outside their comfort zones and leave a mark in the world of golf.

 
Keeping in mind the inclusion of golf into Olympics starting this year, the IGU has formulated a strategic programme with a vision for the 2020 olympics called TEE20. The programme aims to grow the game, sustain the game and excel the game. In collaboration with the Sports Authority of India (SAI), IGU has allocated INR 50 crores towards TEE20. The programme will focus on the following initiatives:

  • Schools & community (5 cr.)
  • Clubs (10 cr.), golf partnerships (2.5 cr.)
  • Coaching (10.5 cr.)
  • Developing Talent (20 cr.)
  •  Government Real Estate ( operations – 2 cr.).

As a result, we all must recognize the efforts of IGU and major sponsors like YES Bank in stepping forward and doing everything they can in helping to grow the game, giving our juniors the opportunity that they all deserve and a chance for us, as Indians, to produce World Champions. Nevertheless, we do need more corporate backing to help support the game for we have enough talent but we need a healthy support system to nurture the talent, acknowledge the hard-work being done by these young players and help them realize their dreams and our dreams as a nation.

 
We here at Prestige Golfshire focus on having healthier and happier juniors. We believe in learning through having fun. The focus here is to produce athletes first and golfers second. A happy junior today is a physically stronger and a mentally healthier adult tomorrow, the exact characteristics required to have world class professional golfers. We as coaches have to help discover individual talents and at the same time nurture the masses. Ultimately, we should strive to produce “players” not “golf swings”.

 

 

 

For more information on junior golf clinics and lessons at Prestige Golfshire, please contact [email protected] 

The Indian Open: An Amateur in Wonderland

It’s that time of the year again! The Delhi Golf Club, the Mecca of Indian Golf, gets transformed into a golf wonderland. Ahead of the first round of the tournament tomorrow, our very own Tarun Ghogale, who played in the Indian Open in 2006 and 2009 as an amateur, takes the time to tell us about his experience of the tournament and his predictions for this year’s event… 

 
Tarun…My earliest memory of the DGC was when I when I was a student and I was allowed to play the B course. I remember the first time I played a full round on the A course. It was a spiritual experience ending with me losing around ten golf balls in the famed bushes or ‘Jhadis’ as they are fondly called!

As a young golfer it was always my dream to play in our National Open and at the age of 24 I got my first opportunity. It was 2006 and I was one of the six amateurs from the country to be selected to participate in the championship. I was on cloud nine when I received the letter confirming my participation. With the joy came a lot of anxiety as well as this was the biggest golf tournament in India and it was to be telecast live on all major sports channels. I was determined to put on a good show and started working on my game with my coach Mr. Digraj Singh.

The Indian Open week begins on Mondays for most players who are looking to get two to three rounds in before round one. I had decided to play on the Monday and Tuesday with my buddy Shaurya Singh who was also one of the amateurs participating. We were at the course very early on Monday and I noticed that everything looked different- in a good way! The first tee was transformed into an amphitheatre and tee box looked like a stage. I signed my first and only autograph that morning and I was feeling pretty good about myself.

I had been advised by many fellow golfers that to score well at this course it was important to play holes 3, 9, 13, 16 and 17 without making a mistake. Putting is always a key factor at the DGC and one generally got a lot of putts between ten to fifteen feet as the pin positions were not very accessible. The green speed is anywhere between eleven and twelve on the stimpmetre and getting accustomed to the pace takes a bit of time. The practice rounds were fun I was just enjoying being part of it all – the hospitality areas for the players, the practice facilities, the new changing rooms and of course the press conferences.

By the time Wednesday came reality started to sink in and I actually was very nervous when I started thinking about the first shot of the day. Luckily I had my friend Aditya Bhandarkar on my bag who was a light hearted guy who had a fantastic sense of humor. The draw was out by Tuesday evening and I was paired with two other Indian golfers and we were to start at 12.45 from the front nine. We were greeted with a heavy downpour on Thursday morning and predictably the tee offs were delayed by about an hour or so. By the time my name was called out by the starter it was already half past one and I was wondering if we would be able to finish the round that day. The stands were full and my parents, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Raj Randhawa and Anirban Lahiri were around to witness my tee shot. I had opted for a driving iron as it was important to find the fairway with my opening shot. I must say I barely managed to put the ball on the tee and the two practice swings that I made were all a blur. Luckily I hit the ball down the middle and I was off to a good start. After making pars on the first three holes I made an incredible par on number four and was level par till the seventh. On the par five eighth I made a solid birdie and the made an amazing save for par on nine which gave me a lot of confidence. I was one under at the turn and feeling very good about my game. Another birdie came on the twelfth and at that point I felt I could actually go low. However the sun was setting and the visibility was lessening and I knew we would have to finish the round next morning. I made another birdie on fourteen to go three under and saw my name flash on the leader board at 23rd position. I was on the seventeenth green putting for birdie in near darkness and I could have chosen to come next morning to finish the putt. However I chose to finish out only to three putt from ten feet and finish the day two under after sixteen holes. I barely had time to think about what had happened and I was out early next morning to finish my last two. There was no doubt that the three putt the previous evening had affected me and I went out to finish the last two holes with a double bogey each to end up with a two over par 74 and in 60th place on the cut line. I teed off for my second round around nine thirty and it was a day of so close yet so far. I ended the day with a 77 which included three putting on three occasions and missing the cut by three shots. I was totally distraught and I rued my mistake on the sixteenth on day one. I had another opportunity to play in the Open on 2009 but I was struggling with my back and my game by then and shot rounds of 81 and 74 to disappear into oblivion.

 
The course for the Open is set up completely different from what it is during the rest of the year. For a start the course is closed for regular play two weeks before the championship. The maintenance army of the club get to work on the divots, pitchmarks, bunkers with complete aggressiveness and by the time we come to opening day the course is in immaculate condition. This year my buddy Gagan Verma has put in a lot of work to ensure that the course is in top shape. Gagan has been one of the best ever amateur golfers in India and has represented the country in almost every International tournament. He has always told me that 14th, 15th and 16th are our very own Amen Corner and many a championship has been won or lost here.

Going purely by form and confidence I have a strong feeling that Anirban Lahiri will defend his title this week. After playing six weeks on the PGA Tour he is looking relaxed and I believe that a win year could actually help him in his preparation for Augusta. The likes of Jyoti Randhawa, Jeev Milkha Singh and Arjun Atwal can never be written off and my gut feeling says that we will have an Indian winner this year as well.

If DGC is a wonderland then I am surely Alice!

Prestige Golfshire Fun Run in support of Manasa Orphanage

Hello there –

Have you ever thought about how lovely it would be to run around the golf course? Well, we have and we are very excited to be organising our first charitable fun run this coming Sunday 13 March in support of the Manasa Orphanage.

Here’s a little bit about our cause…Prestige Golfshire has been associated with the Manasa Orphanage in Chikballapur since 2014, an organization that works to provide education and shelter for underprivileged children. Following the event, the team will personally deliver proceeds to the orphanage. We are also proud to say Dr. Madhukar from the organization will be attending on the day. 

The run itself will be just over 2 miles long and will go through our picturesque front nine with amazing views of Nandi Hills. The starting point will be at our luxury guest villas before going onto the second hole tee box and through to the ninth hole running back into the clubhouse. For those of you who know our course, you will know that there are few places in Bangalore more refreshing first thing in the morning – definitely worth getting out of bed for!

Our team has even been warming up this week and getting some practice in, here’s a preview of what you can expect on Sunday.

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Not only will there be a great atmosphere for the run but there will be a lovely breakfast waiting for all our guests back at Falcon Greens restaurant following the  event along with fun family activities and games on the lawn for everyone to enjoy.

We are looking forward to a great day for a great cause and we sure hope you be able to join us!

What you need to know…

  • Entry Fee: 1500 -/ (proceeds will be donated to charity)
  • Registration starts at 6:30am at Guest Villa 120 (at the entrance to Prestige Golfshire) | Run will start at 7am sharp
  • You can sign up for the event at Prestige Golfshire clubhouse reception or call +919900042715
  • The run is open to members and non-members and welcomes all ages  – those taking part are welcome to walk or run – it’s the taking part that counts!

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