The ongoing tug of war concerning lease issues between the Chandigarh administration and the Chandigarh Golf Club does not surprise me one bit. In fact, it reinforces a widely acclaimed conviction that there is a universal, selective hostility towards the sport of golf. This feeling is more prominent in our country where even the most educated and aware refuse to give this wonderful sport a status on par with other sporting activities.
Some years back, under the aegis of a sports lover General, mind you a non-golfer, a golf course was developed in a budding army cantonment with the dual purpose of promoting the sport among the army fraternity and bringing more greenery to the city. The facility was appreciated, sadly, only by existing and budding golfers and a selective band of unbiased sports lovers. The open criticism on obvious negatives with the golf course did rounds amongst many others. The prayers of the latter were heard.
The next boss of the station happened to belong to their species. The new General, duly pumped up by the golf hostile group, started drumming up the campaign to first ban golf amongst officers citing professional compromise and second, to convert the existing golf course into a training area and helipad notwithstanding, both already existing as per guidelines. Lo and behold, the blue print for the noble campaign commenced with anti-golf proponents gaining closeness to the boss.
Meanwhile, the son of the General, studying at a boarding school was turning into a competitive golfer. On a vacation at home, he spent virtually his whole time at the fast disintegrating golf course. Slowly at first, the course started reviving and later the move to decommission it was shelved. We got to know some years later that the hostile General has become a golf addict and plays eight days a week. Such is the malaise and the magic of this sport.
India has a poor international representation of this sport. The talent is abundant but the impetus is lacking. Critics who brand golf as elitist fail to notice a large number of underprivileged caddies making a mark in professional circuits. Young girls and boys are taking to sport because of its physical, mental and psychological benefits.
Golf has surpassed tennis as the most paying sport. A round of golf exercises more physical faculties than any other sport. The hostile mind set is however, on the wane. Sponsors are coming forward to support youngsters who cannot go ahead due to financial constraints.
Chandigarh, in the recent past, has turned into an assembly line of golfing talent. The likes of Jeevs, Kahlons, Akshays, Sujans, Harenders, Saaniyas, Tavleens, Irinas, Ferzos and Kochhars are just the tip of the ice berg. World-class coaches like Jesse Grewal and other stalwarts are rendering a yeoman service to the sport in this power house of golfing talent.
A competent management committee of the golf club has tried to provide a fillip to this neglected and disdainfully viewed sport.
Let not the old adage, “Eyes cannot see what the mind does not know” cloud the vision of competent but ill-informed bureaucrats, lest the slogan ‘Save Golf’ rises beyond the crescendo of ‘Save Tiger’.
(The writer is a retired army officer and an avid golfer. Views expressed are personal.)