Golf is about hitting shots around a stipulated course by making the least number of strokes/shots to complete the course. In other words, it is a precision club-and-ball game in which competing golfers attempt to hit the ball into each hole on a golf course with the fewest number of strokes. The golfers use different types of clubs to hit the ball. Golf is one of the few ball games that do not require a standardised playing area. The game is, instead, played on ‘courses’, each of which has a unique design. Courses typically consist of nine or 18 holes. If a course has nine holes, it will have to be played twice through to complete 18 holes.
What do they do?
She is 15 years old and a junior amateur golfer who — much to her excitement — has managed to make it to the women’s squad of the national team participating in the Asian Games, currently underway in Guangzhou, China. Gurbani Singh from Delhi is among a few Indian girls who have won an international golf tournament (the Evian Junior Masters Cup in Evian, France, in July 2010). In the overall category where the performances of both boys and girls were considered, she tied at the second spot with a boy from Austria.
Singh has been the number one junior player (girl’s section) in the country and her current national amateur ranking, among ladies, is one. Is she planning to turn professional in the near future? According to Singh’s mother Bharati, “It’s wait and watch for her. Yes, she’ll turn pro if her game comes up to international professional standards.”
Singh, however, intends to choose golf as a profession “as it would be something I would enjoy doing every day of my life.”
“Golf is gaining quite a lot of popularity in India now,” she adds. Though it is not the rage like cricket, “if you go to the driving range in any popular golf club in India, you will see a large number of children practising. Their numbers are growing every passing year,” she says. This growing popularity of the game can be attributed to the success of players like Arjun Atwal and Jeev Milkha Singh, who “have definitely made a name for Indian golfers on the world platform.”
But what exactly is this game all about? “Golf is a precision sport, which requires you to get the ball in the hole with the help of minimum number of strokes. A golf course has 18 holes and he who completes the course with the lowest number of shots taken is declared the winner,” says Abhinav Lohan, an amateur golfer ranked number two in the country and a member of the Asian Games squad.
According to him, the chance for someone to make it big in the golf course is immense. “Now we have full-fledged professional tours (in the country) with decent prize money,” he says. “For amateurs and juniors, we have proper tournaments too. Moreover, you can represent India at the international level as an amateur, based on your ranking.”
Detractors say that golf is an expensive game, which not everybody can afford to play. Lohan disagrees. “Anyone can play golf irrespective of his/her background.” This is because of support from golf foundations and various corporate houses. Once you start playing well, then there is a nice support system to carry you forward, he says.
Those wanting to earn a living from golf will have to go professional because amateurs play only for trophies — there’s no prize money involved. And how does one become a professional player?
“Anyone who can compete at a very high level with a scoring average that betters the course par can decide to attend any qualifying school run by various golfing outfits. You can then play as a professional and earn a living if you play well,” says Jasjit Singh, who has a degree in golf course management from the Golf Academy of the South in Casselberry, Florida, USA, and at present teaches at the Delhi Golf Club.
. A golfer needs to be dedicated, disciplined, hard working and willing to go that extra mile for his sport
. For golf in particular, a strong mind is very essential. It is one of the few sports where you act and don’t react; so mind power takes you a long way
. Persistence and a steady hand
How do I get there?
The stages are simple. You can rent clubs at any driving range at a golf course near you or at a stand-alone driving range facility for R10 to R50 per golf club for practice. You can take lessons for as little as R100 per half hour or 45 minutes, depending on the level of coach you hire. In addition you pay about R35 to R50 for balls and in about four to six weeks, you get to learn the basics of golf. This totally depends on your personal ability and the time you are able to devote to the learning process.
Becoming a golfer is easy but becoming a pro is an altogether different thing. Amateur golfers play for sport/trophy while pros play for money.