How one coach’s drive to take golf to Pune’s masses stuck in PMC’s red-tape hazard
Land located at Survey number 6/10/13+14 was allocated as public amenity space for a public golf training academy in September 2015, but since then, all effort to turn this plot into a ‘driving range’ for future golfers has missed the greenspune Updated: Apr 09, 2018 15:48 IST
With much hope of taking the game of golf to the masses, Col (retd) AK Majumdar, a ‘Class A’ coach, approached the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in 2015, with a request to build a public golf training academy.
Land located at Survey number 6/10/13+14 was allocated as public amenity space for the golf training academy in September 2015, but since then, all his effort to turn this barren plot into a ‘driving range’ for future golfers in Pune has missed the greens.
“I have been trying since the last four years to build a public training academy so that people of the surrounding areas of Bavdhan, Pashan and Kothrud, Baner, and Aundh and can come and practice golf. We won’t get stars like Shubhankar Sharma, Rashid Khan, and others without public infrastructure for golf. I got a small piece of land sanctioned for a mini-academy which is located on the hill slopes in Bavdhan, but the corporation has done nothing to take this initiative forward. The last communication I got from the PMC was a letter to the Bhawan Rachna department (a copy of which is available with Hindustan Times), asking for work to start on construction of the academy at the plot. This was on June 17, 2017,” says Majumdar.
When contacted, the Bhawan Rachna (building construction) department acting head, Shivaji Lankar, said, “We don’t have the budgetary provision to start construction of the academy right now. After the budgetary provisions are made, we need to float tenders for the same. It is a long process and right now it is not listed as a priority project.”
Majumdar’s aim of starting the mini golf academy is to make the sport available to the city at an affordable cost. This is currently unavailable in the city. At a time when the sport is making headlines with Shubhankar Sharma claiming his place among the upcoming stars, the need for such public infrastructure for the sport to grow is the need of the hour.
The Pune Open Golf Championships will be held in the city from April 10 and the city has a few players to compete at the tournament. The tournament held by the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) is among thee top events in the circuit. In order to produce more players who participate in the tournament from the city, the need for an academy is justified.
Sameer Shaikh, a professional golfer from the city who is taking part in the PGTI tournament, and also a coach, says, “A public academy would help promote this sport among the public, who usually are isolated from it because of the cost of the game. Currently, we have only one academy- Leadbetter Academy- in the city which can provide professional coaching to players, a public academy would draw in more players from all layers of the society.”
“The plan for the academy is to charge establishment cost which is for the equipment, coaches, balls and employees. It will be affordable and accessible for the public to come and learn. This will be a totally no-profit organisation, but for the plan to work out the corporation has to realise that building an amenity space for a specialised sport is as important as a playground in a community,” Majumdar adds.
Local area corporator Dilip Vede Patil, too, didn’t seem interested in the idea of building the golf academy. “We didn’t allot any budgetary provision to it this year. So, now, if something can be done, it will be only in the next financial year,” Patil said. When asked if he would push for the academy seeing the popularity of the game and his position as a member of the standing committee, he said, “Yes, I will see what can be done with the case next year and will push forward the need for a budgetary provision for it.”
Majumdar, who having waited for four years now, has lost all hope. “I volunteered to start this public academy for the people because I believe that in order to produce winners, not just players, we need to train them since the start. An affordable golf academy within the city limits would have helped kids come and train. All golf courses right now are either very expensive or not easily accessible. Students, who should be tapped for the game, do not have the time to travel to far-off golf courses and train and hence, this academy would have helped unearth the talent pool which the city has. I have met every official in the corporation, but the file is just moving from one desk to another and nothing is happening on ground.”
Cost of golf training in Pune
Coaches - An hour’s fee can range from ₹500 to ₹5,000
Golf course - Fees can range from ₹1,000 to ₹6,000 for access
Equipment - The cost of a basic equipment set for beginners can start from ₹1,500 (limited number of clubs)