Nimisha Vohra always thought that golf was meant for those above 60 years, so when her 10-year-old son, Jay, took a fancy to it she was surprised.
“We had gone to Amby Valley with a golfer friend of ours and he took the kids out to the course and Jay immediately loved it,” said the Pedder Road resident.
The second trip there cemented his interest in the sport and he had soon enrolled for the Starting New At Golf, or SNAG, course at the Willingdon Club at Tardeo. Sports for children once meant swimming and tennis; golf is the latest addition to the list. It is no more only for business bigwigs, but also for their children.
SNAG is meant for beginners and contains all the elements of golf, but in a modified form. The game has its own simplified rules and terminology, which adds fun to the learning and playing experience. For example, the clubs, although as heavy as regular clubs, are colourful to keep the child interested.
“It works great for me because my child now ignores gadgets and videogames and wants to spend time in the open. Earlier there was a tie between his love for cricket, but now golf has emerged winner,” said Vohra.
Evolution Golf, a group of professional golfers who want to make golf more accessible, started SNAG a year ago in golf clubs in Mumbai.
Their junior programmes provide a comprehensive training module, which caters to age groups starting from 3 to 18 years.
The demand is growing: from 17 junior golfers when it began it has now reached 114 in eight months.
In Mumbai, junior golf development and coaching programmes run at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club, Chembur, Willingdon Sports Club, Tardeo, and the American School of Bombay in Bandra-Kurla Complex.
“With greater exposure to golf for adults, even their children are catching up. Abroad junior golf is very popular, but here it is still at the beginning stages,” said 25-year-old Sreekanth Nagaraj from Evolution Golf. “Golf is not only a sport; it also helps networking. So while parents can network, they can have some family time as well and share their passion with their children.”
Even clubs are impressed with the overwhelming response. At the Bombay Presidency Golf Club, the response from members was so large for their first batch of five sessions, which ended on January 31, that they had no space to accommodate non-members. Their session was packed with 40 children and cost about Rs 3,500.
“Golf is coming to Mumbai in a big way,” said Dinesh Bolar, the golf manager. “Fifteen years ago, it was an old person’s game, but today children are taking active interest. We will have more junior programmes during the summer holidays.”