Arjuna awardee Aditi Ashok: Growing up in Bengaluru, you can play golf all year!
Think of golf and one is usually reminded of ace players such as Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa. But when it comes to the young guns taking up this game of patience, there’s one name that has been shining bright in the last few years, and that is Bengaluru-based 22-year-old Aditi Ashok!
Carrying the baton of women golfers in the country, Ashok started learning golf when she was five, and is today the only Indian golfer to have played in the Asian Youth Games, Youth Olympic Games and Asian Games. Presently in the USA, competing at the coveted LPGA tournament, after the pandemic hit last year, she says, “The pandemic was hard for me because golf is an outdoor sport and there is only so much you can do indoors. It took some time to get back into the groove but I’m happy with where my game is trending right now.”
Ask her how it feels to get back on the turf amid safety concerns and the golfer replies, “I’m excited to get back into the competition! I guess this is the new normal so we have to get used to all the restrictions and protocols but I’m glad that we have tournaments to play.”
The year 2020 was a tough one for most sportspersons, and sporting events including the Olympics got pushed to 2021. But, what made things brighter for Ashok was being conferred with the Arjuna Award. “It was a great honour and achievement for me. The recognition for golf and women’s golf in particular was also great to see,” she says, opining how her achievement at the national level will inspire more women to take up the sport: “I think it can definitely help young girls in India believe that they can also make it (golf) a career and compete on the world stage.”
Ashok, who has been in the spotlight since she won a professional event as a 13-year-old amateur, credits her parents for letting her foray into golf and develop interest in the sport. “My parents and I started learning golf at the same time, when I was five and a half years old. It was just a weekend activity that we could do as a family, but I really liked it and wanted to learn and play more,” she recalls, adding, “While growing up, I was definitely one of the handful of girls playing in most tournaments, but never thought of it as a sport for men. I enjoyed it so much that it never bothered me most of the time,” she says.
Though she doesn’t get to be in her hometown most of the year, due to tournaments across the globe, yet Ashok thanks Bengaluru for contributing to her successful career in the sport. “Growing up in Bengaluru was great for me because here you can play golf all round the year, and the weather is perfect,” she exclaims. Ask if she could choose to spend time at a particular place in the city, and Ashok says her choice is predictable but honest: “It would definitely be the Bangalore Golf Club because I’ve grown up practising and playing there, and it’s the oldest golf course outside the British Isles so it’s got some history too!”
Author tweets @bhagat_mallika