Covid effect: Caddies return to Chandigarh golf course as ball spotters
New beginning, new assignment: Will be joining the course from Saturday, but wouldn’t be carrying the bags and clubs because of social distancingUpdated: May 22, 2020 23:44 IST
When the Chandigarh Golf Club reopened its course for the golfers on Wednesday after a long gap of 60 days due to the Covid-19 lockdown, an important part of the sport was missing on the sprawling greens — the caddy.
Generally the lowest paid personnel in the sport of the elite, a caddy plays an important role in a golfer’s career. But the coronavirus situation has now put the caddy in a role different from accompanying the golfers and carrying their bags and clubs. With social distancing coming into play, the caddies will now be spotting the balls.
For the last three days, the club has been screening its registered caddies who are living outside the containment zone of Bapu Dham Colony, and they will be on the course from Saturday. They will be stationed at a particular place on the fairways.
“As far as professional golfers are concerned, caddy is an important asset and contributes in the performance on the greens. Caddy is the only one with whom a golfer can talk, discuss and take suggestions during the course of the game,” says Asian Tour winner Ajeetesh Sandhu.
“For the last seven years, whenever I play in Chandigarh, Ankur Kumar has been my caddy. I met the 27-year-old yesterday, and he told me that he will be coming to the course from Saturday. I am happy that an important part of the sport is returning to the golf course,” adds Sandhu.
The club management has identified 170 caddies living in Kishangarh and Kansal (outside the containment zone), out of which 144, in two batches, will be working as a ball spotters on a daily basis. The club is paying ₹200 per day to the remaining caddies as well.
“This initiative will surely make golf more enjoyable as less time will be spent in searching for golf balls and filling up divots. With the spotter caddies being in place, the pace of play will improve and we may reduce the time slot between tee offs from 15 minutes to 10 minutes from the next week,” says club president Sandeep Singh Sandhu. “The caddies will go through the same screening protocol on a daily basis as the golfers do,” says Col APS Johal, general manager of then club.
HOW CADDIES HELP A GOLFER
A caddy’s job is not only to carry the golfer’s kit, but also advise them on many facets of the course during the event. “Knowing the etiquettes of the game, a caddy has to be at his best on the golf course. A good caddy understands the psychology of the golfer. If, during a match, a golfer hits a rough patch, the caddy needs to pull him out of it immediately,” says caddy Ankur.
“During the tournament, I generally give feedback to the golfer on the correct putting line and the grains of the greens, besides keeping tabs on the movement of the wind,” says senior caddy Nobat Ram, 45, who is one of the most sought-after caddies at the club.
He has the distinction of being a caddy to top professionals like Jeev Milkha Singh, Amandeep Johal and Gurbaz Mann, and has travelled with them to eight international tournaments to Asian countries. His latest overseas outing was to Malaysia with Jeev in the first week of March before the lockdown.