The year has probably been the most exciting with Gaganjeet Bhullar emerging as the crown prince of Indian golf. I have seen the boy from very close quarters and nobody can deny that he is extra special.
His biggest strength is his dedication and focus, which can hardly be seen in today's youngsters. Couple this with an ability to hit the ball a mile and the feel of a magician, and you have the ingredients of a superstar.
In contrast, is the case of S.S.P. Chowrasia. He had a very mediocre year by his standards. One of the main reasons is the European golf courses, which do not suit his style of golf. He is deadly on short and tight golf courses but most of the European courses are long and what makes it tougher is the weather. More than half the tournaments are played in very cold conditions and often in the rain, and this makes the golf course play even longer.
One may be wondering why the winning scores have not improved over the past five years even though the guy who finishes 50th has improved by leaps and bounds in professional tournaments worldwide. The simple reason is that today's golf courses are on an average 200 yards longer than they were five years back.
There are three main changes that have come about on most courses where international events are held. The length of most holes has been increased and new tees have been built. The fairways have been made narrower and some of the fairways look like a landing strip with only 20 yards of width. The fairways are also very well watered and manicured which gives the ball lesser roll on drives.
To top it all, the greens are made harder and firmer, making it very difficult to spin the ball and stop it on the greens.
All these changes make a golf course completely different from what a regular member may have played a week before a professional event. Sometimes, it could mean an additional 4-5 shots for a regular club member on the course he plays regularly.
An important change that is to take place from January is that all grooves on mid and short irons would have to have 'V' grooves and professional golfers cannot use 'square' or 'U' grooves.
This, I feel, will help the more skilled professionals.