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]