Oldest matchplay event gets a quiet burial
The SRF All-India Matchplay Championship, the longest running event on the domestic golf tour, is off the calendar. Robin Bose reports.other Updated: May 17, 2012 01:33 IST
The SRF All-India Matchplay Championship, the longest running event on the domestic golf tour, is off the calendar. Staged at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) in April-May since its inception, the tournament stood out for its unique format, being the only matchplay tournament that counted in the Order of Merit, but the “burgeoning profile” of the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) and lack of top field, have led the sponsors to pull the event off this year’s schedule.
For some time, SRF was being asked to up the prize money, but the company held firm. "The question of raising the prize money did not arise. Ours was a social not a commercial initiative, aimed at lifting the profile of professional golf in India. With the advent of the PGTI (in 2006) and big-money (R1 crore) events (like the DLF Masters, BILT Open and CG Open), we feel the purpose has been served," he said.
Though Ashish Bharat Ram, managing director, SRF Ltd, attributed the pullout to the company “achieving its target of promoting professional golf in the country”, HT has learnt that it was the prize money of Rs 25lakh that was the bone of contention.
Denying there was pressure from the PGTI, Ashish conceded, “there was a polite req-uest every year but never a threat”.
Another grouse has been the inability to attract a top field. It’s happened in the past that the week has clashed with an overseas event. Obviously, the big names would go there. Coupled with this is the call taken by the DGC “not to stage small events”.
One “objective” met, SRF is eyeing another one. “We are in talks with the DGC and would like to be actively associated with the world-class academy which is on the anvil,” said Ashish.
When contacted, Padamjit Sandhu, director, PGTI, denied there was any pressure on the sponsor. “The pullout has nothing to do with the prize money. We were informed that they wanted to support golf at the grassroots level,” he said.