The Indian Golf Union (IGU) does not stop to surprise.
On the one hand, it deems it fit to send a men's team to the Asian Games, at Guangzhou in November, whose members are in violation of amateur status rules, on the other, it is insistent on scuttling a programme, which is path-breaking to say the least.
The IMG-Reliance Scholarships for India, in association with the David Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton, Florida, could prove life changing for the 13 chosen budding golfers, but the IGU’s refusal to budge from its "moralistic" stance threatens the programme with premature death.
The initiative, the trials for which were conducted in early July at the DLF Golf & Country Club and involved 52 children, did have a faulty tee off. IMG and Reliance, instead of keeping IGU, the governing body, in the loop, tied up with the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI). The IGU was not informed till the "eleventh hour".
Expectedly, IGU questioned the legality of the scheme (see box) and termed it a violation of R&A’s amateur status rules, as the exercise and its benefits were not routed through the parent body.
The response was swift. “We wrote (it’s been three weeks now) to IMG saying since there was an issue with the amateur status, we were ready to hand over the programme to IGU. We were keen the children did not suffer,” a senior PGTI official told HT.
Instead of things falling in place, the script has gone awry. Taken aback by the PGTI’s quick climbdown, the IGU, clueless about the path to take, is resorting to delaying tactics.
HT has learnt that IGU has questioned the selection process and plans to hold retrials. Unconfirmed reports say it could even inform the United States Golf Association of the “violation” if the children travelled to Florida.
This means the children, who are ready to leave but have nowhere to go, will miss the September deadline. The 13 were to fly out in early August for the next round of trials and the final-four were to be a part of the first semester beginning early September. The IGU’s obstinacy is difficult to comprehend since a precedent is in place. In 1985 and the following year, four top amateurs were funded by American Express for training abroad, and the IGU was in the know.
As has become a trend, no IGU Council member was willing to speak to HT.
With each passing day, the impasse is deepening and with it the turmoil afflicting the tender minds.