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High Court reprieve for junior golfers

The Indian Golf Union's eagerness to replicate its actions, which led to scuttling of the IMG-Reliance Scholarships (as reported by Hindustan Times), has been dealt a blow.

other Updated: Nov 28, 2010 23:04 IST
Robin Bose

The Indian Golf Union's eagerness to replicate its actions, which led to scuttling of the IMG-Reliance Scholarships (as reported by Hindustan Times), has been dealt a blow.

Like the above-mentioned effort, the Albatross Junior Tour, a brainchild of parents of junior golfers, joined hands with the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT) to give budding golfers international exposure through the Asian Tournament of Champions, originally scheduled at Mission Hills, Hainan, China, from December 10-12. Incidentally, Haney is the former coach of Tiger Woods.

Soon after the India qualifiers in October at Jaypee Greens, Greater Noida, which saw 12 children being selected in the age categories of 12-15 and 16-18 years, the IGU stepped in with its list of objections that pertained to “violation of amateur status rules”.

The IGU contended that in receiving expenses to travel to China and in the event of an Indian winning and receiving a scholarship to hone skills at Haney's International Junior Golf Academy at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, the children stood to lose their amateur status.

IGU's apprehension was misplaced as Rule 4.2 (b) of R&A Ltd clearly states: “A junior golfer may receive expenses when competing in a competition limited exclusively to junior golfers.”

Still, to ensure the children stayed on firm ground, Albatross went ahead and sought the IGU's “opinion/view on the issue”. The move was of little help as the correspondence showed the IGU's “indecisiveness and incorrect interpretation of R&A rules”.

Frustrated by the dithering, Albatross filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court on Wednesday. After hearing the counsel of both sides on Friday, the single-judge Bench of Justice S Muralidhar succeeded in bringing the two parties to a common meeting ground.

While Albatross has agreed to “deposit the amount (of Rs 2.64 lakh towards air tickets and visa fees) with the IGU within two days”, the IGU counsel said, “If expenses involved in the participation of those selected for the IJGT are deposited with the IGU by the petitioner…the IGU will give its no objection to such providing of expenses by the petitioner, in which event the IGU would not stand in the way of the participants retaining their amateur status.”

“In such an event,” Justice Muralidhar directed, “the IGU will communicate its decision to the petitioner within three days thereafter.”