The rise of an elite’s game in India

By Sridhar Banerjee

Photo Courtesy: Female Coaching Network

The tryst with golf in India can be dated back to 1829 when Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) was established under the British rule. However, the sport by and large remained confined as elites’ amateur-alike venture for more than a decade.

The game finally witnessed a major shift in the way it was earlier run and promoted in India with the constitution of Indian Golf Union (IGU), a body solely responsible for the management and promotion of the game in the country. However, it took quite a while before India could make a mark in the Asian golf-map, leave apart the global one.

India finally triumphed something noteworthy with the gold-medal winning feat from Lakshman Singh at the 1982 Asian Games in India. While professional golf was growing exponentially around the globe, our country was content with a handful of winning efforts majorly coming in from buck-strived competitions. Professionalism in Indian golf got a major boost with the formation of Professional Golfers’ Association of India (PGAI) in 1995.

Motivated by the possibility of the expansion of professional infrastructure in the country, youngsters pondered beyond the morning regime of sipping a cup of coffee and having a go at the club with an aim to have a feel of the lush green fairway, the bunkers and the prized holes. Talented golfers like Ali Sher and Gaurav Ghai were probably the disappointed lots as their game was in its twilight phase. However, budding golfers those days of the sorts of Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal made the most of the opportunities of the rising golf curve and started making mark in the Asian circuit and followed it up in European tour. Jeev was the pioneer of the lot internationally as he went on to win four times each in European Tour and Japan Tour, and six times in the Asian tour. He was the first ever Indian golfer to break into the top 100 in the World golf ranking truly living up to the legacy by his legendary father, Milkha Singh, one of the few Olympian sprinters from India to have finished an agonizing 4th in the Olympics. Arjun Atwal became the first ever Indian to win on PGA tour by winning the Wyndham Championship back in 2010. Jyoti Randhawa made phenomenal strides in the Asian tour as he won Asian tour titles on eight occasions.

The success of the trio raised the popularity of the game in India as new golf courses started coming up together with standardization and face-lifting of the old golf courses like RCGC, Delhi Golf Club etc. Golf touched the hands of the common men as well. Shiv Shankar Prasad Chawrasia also known as “Chipputtsia” or SSP, the son of a green-keeper from RCGC, soon became a name to reckon with. A maestro in the short game, SSP is still considered to have magical hands whenever he plays in the golf courses like DGC. He has made every Indian proud through his success in Asian (6 titles) and European tour (4 titles).

Shiv Kapur and Anirban Lahiri are the latest sensations with Shiv emerging champions in the Asian tour on two occasions followed by two European Challenger tour triumphs. However, Anirban Lahiri has taken Indian golf to a different height. He’s been an undisputed No.1 in our country for more than the last couple of years. His success graph in golf is outstanding. At 30, the golfer from Bangalore has triumphed seven times in the Asian tour and twice in the European tour. For the past two years, he’s been rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama in PGA tour (the most sought-after golfing association worldwide).

Tournament Position Prize Money won
C J Cup @ Nine Bridges (Korea) Tied 5th $ 1,75,000
CIMB Classic (Malayasia) Tied 10th $ 3,02,000
BMW Championship Tied 9th $ 2,36,250

 

Anirban stands at 15th position in the FedEx ranking currently (in PGA tour) and 58th in World ranking and of late, he’s been in tremendous form (he missed out narrowly on his berth at the HSBC WGC Championship). In 2016-17, this prolific Indian golfer took home $1,944,289 and finished at a credible 61 in FedEx ranking.

With youngsters like Ajeetesh Sandhu and Subhankar Das making their presence felt in the Asian circuit, Indian golf seems to have started shining globally and soon we expect someone winning a major showing the way to head to.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Unfolded the future of a game which remains unnoticed in the news headlines…looking forward for some more uncommon topics…All the best!!!!

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