India's geography makes it a fascinating country on the world map. The dynamics of life, culture, language, spices and even sports change every few kilometres. While some states are enjoying cuisines brought down from the Mughal era, others love the games left over as a legacy by the Britishers / Maharajas.
That's how the story of Golf began. The history of golf is never complete without mention-ing Royal Calcutta that established the second oldest course in the world in 1829. Legend has it that India was called the gateway of golf in Asia. The bastion of the game in the East.
Where Are We Today
Credit it to some of the leading golfers of India who dared to walk the road less travelled and put our golf players on the world map. The likes of AnirbanLahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar are making waves around the globe. The idea is not to restrict the sport to the "chosen" few with the moolah. Times are changing.
India's pool of golfers is growing. When AnirbanLahiri surged in his world rankings, the world gaped in awe. We made it to the much reputed PGA Championship without any hiccups and a whole new generation of young golfers realised that there is so much to explore out there. The hopes grew when Shiv Kapur made it to the top 25 at the US Open.
The good news is, the government is promoting golf and sports tourism like never before. The times are exciting for the game as it is becoming the fastest growing sport in the country. With the economy picking up, new tournaments are launched every day.The India Golf Awards have only added to the calendar.
Women Coming to Fore
The women are teeing off new synergies and efforts to roll the dice in the golf arena. Vari-ous special programs targeting women golfers are surfacing with changing times and the awareness and impetus to golf is exciting. There was a time when RCGC was the heart of the Golf but then came the Delhi Golf Club, Royal Springs in Kashmir, DLF Golf Club in Gurgaon, many more &new undulating short-courses and the scene changed.
The Road Ahead
India is set to be among countries that promise to resurrect the game as it suffers a de-cline in Europe and United States. The young are taking to it, and the demographics in India can indeed contribute to producing a few world-class players. For every sport, that's what's needed - a few icons. A few success stories.Some inspiration to spark the fire. And luckily the news on that front is good.
Then came the awards associated with the sport and that changed how many looked at the game. Gaganjeet Bhullar, LahiriChikkarangappa and Rashid Khan changed the face of it all. But this was given the deserving impetus only when Chikkarangappa and Rashid shared their story of relying on a foundation for golf clubs for the lack of funds.
It's Not a Game Just For the Elite
The above story is of men who did not have the desired funds for the game, yet they knew how to take it forward. That is what the game has been to India. Thanks to bodies like IGU, IGIA, GCS&MAI which promotes the game, Its infrastructure & knowledge of golf in the country and players of all age groups.
To sum it all up, as the legend Arnold Palmer rightly said once, the next few years will see the rise of Indian and Chinese golfers in a big way.
Good times ahead!