Golf tees off again

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From being a sport meant for the uber rich to a pastime for retired generals, golf has truly come of age today.

The success of Indians like Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal at the top level of international golf has inspired youngsters to take up the game in a serious way. And once they’ve had a taste of the game, there’s nothing more relaxing, they claim.

“Unlike other sports, you don’t necessarily have to compete with other golfers. You can well play it solo, competing only with yourself. It gives you time to calm yourself, to discover your best move; and once that is done, you may move on to the more technical aspects,” says Romit Bose, professional golfer and coach, adding that the improvement never ceases and one never “retires”.

While the likes of Randhawa and Atwal have been around for long, youngsters like S. Chikkarangappa, Himmat Rai and Sujjan Singh are also rising fast. Even among women, Sharmilla Nicolette from Bengaluru has become a household name today.

At the amateur level too, several young names have made a name for themselves. “I like to play the game because it helps me relax. It helps me focus and concentrate,” says 17-year-old Gurbani Singh from Chandigarh. She was the youngest member of the Indian team at The Asian Games in Guangzhou last year.

For former national champion Rishi Narain, it’s the beautiful surroundings of a golf course, which does the job. “The game is played in a very calm and quiet environment. I love to play golf because your performance is entirely dependent on you. You need patience,” Narain says.

Bose admits that while things are improving, there’s still some way to go for the sport. “India needs golf courses to be accessible to people. And to get rid of the elitist tag, so that people feel welcome to join it,” he says. “There is a long way to go,” Narain adds. “But golf equipment is available easily today, and good instructors are also around to guide enthusiasts.”

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