India, often called the ‘paradise of golfing’ has some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world — Kalhar Greens and Blues in Gujarat, Jaypee Green Golf Resort in Greater Noida, DLF Golf and Country Club, Gurgaon, Eagleton Golf Resort in Bangalore to name a few. It also has some of the most exotic golf courses situated at the highest altitudes in the world_ the Army fire and fury Golf Course in Ladakh, Ligripukhuri Golf Club, Nazira in Assam and others. And yet, in stark contrast to the number of exceptional quality golf courses and the fame they enjoy, India produced relatively few golfers who matched the quality of its acclaimed golf courses. Fortunately, that is now changing.
V Krishnaswamy, tracing golf developments in India, wrote : “Going back to the 1960s and 1970s, while good news kept pouring now and then for the Indian team, the individual professionals kept faring poorly barring the success of Billoo Sethi in 1965, and there were many who thought the local golfers only made up for the numbers in the Indian Open. Things finally began to look up in 1990, when Calcutta veteran Basad Ali stood third behind Andrew Debusk and Carlos Espinosa.
Finally in 1991Ali Sher showed the way as Indians took center stage in 1990s. Ali Sher, small in height but with a huge heart, broke the foreign stranglehold in 1991. A hole-in-one on the 184-yard seventh on the second day propelled Sher as he shot a 67 to take the lead. He finished with a dramatic birdie on the final hole to become the first Indian professional ever to win the Indian Open title. As if to prove that his ’91 win was no fluke, Ali Sher repeated the magic in 1993 when he beat Feroz Ali by one stroke.
In the early 1990s, the one major handicap Indian golfers still faced was the lack of international tournaments. They were still too raw to make it to such lucrative tours as the PGA, the European PGA or the Japanese PGA. All they could get was a few events in the erstwhile Asian Tour. Situation changed in 1995 with the launch of the Asian PGA Tour. Suddenly, they had the opportunity to compete against some of the top names in the region throughout the year. The prize money also increased considerably and a career in golf became a worthwhile option.
– V Krishnaswamy
Ali Sher’s victory was just the tonic Indian golf was looking for. In the early 1990s, the one major handicap Indian golfers still faced was the lack of international tournaments. They were still too raw to make it to such lucrative tours as the PGA, the European PGA or the Japanese PGA. All they could get was a few events in the erstwhile Asian Tour. Situation changed in 1995 with the launch of the Asian PGA Tour. Suddenly, they had the opportunity to compete against some of the top names in the region throughout the year. The prize money also increased considerably and a career in golf became a worthwhile option.”
India went on to produce some ‘golfing jewels’ like Jyoti Randhawa, Arjun Atwal, Jeev Milkha Singh and others who have added four stars and more to the game of golf in India. But they are of fairly recent vintage on the larger world canvas, and their achievements have still to measure up to other world class ‘greats’. Today, Jeev Milkha Singh is the most successful and highest ranked Indian golfer in the world. He first broke in to the top 100 in October 2006 and was also the first to be in the top 50. He has been the first Indian golfer to become a member of European tour, since 1997. He has also received the fourth highest civil honour of the country, the ‘Padma Shri.’ Jeev Milkha Singh is confident that Indian golf has a bright future, and he believes that it is in the right hands, but he does acknowledge that supportive media coverage is still an essential for more growth and achievements of Indian golfers.
Keeping in mind its long history in India and recent achievements, golf should have been one of the major sports of this country. But it still isn’t growing like some other sports in India like cricket, hockey, badminton. To overcome this problem, India should have a better junior and amateur circuit for the sport. One of the ways to promote golf would be to add it to sports activities supported by schools and motivate the students to participate in junior tournaments. The whole perception about Indian golf is changing and Indians are becoming a force to reckon with. This is the time to back them in every possible way to reach out for a dream run like the one Tiger Woods once enjoyed.
Nine Year Old Indian Golfer Aims High
Nine year old Vasundhara Thiara was winner in the Category D in the USHA Southern India Golf Tournament at Bengaluru. She finished runners up in USHA Delhi Ladies and Junior Girls Amateur tournament held at the Noida Golf Course. She was on the front with 273, two shots ahead of Tanishka Kumar (90). Her next stop was the USKids World Junior Golf Championship at Pinehurst, North Carolina, USA.
Recent national & international performances of Indian golfers
- Anirban Lahiri, 25 participated in the British Open 2012 and achieved the 31st position. He also won two titles in the Asian tour this year.
- Bhanu Pratap Singh, 21 achieved the feat of the youngest Indian to participate in the CG open this year.
- Jeev Milkha Singh, 40 has won the 2012 Scottish Open in playoffs by beating Francisco Molinari.
- Shiv Kapur jumps to the 56th position in the European Tour 2012 from 156th position.