DGC Open dropped, club management blamed - Hindustan Times

DGC Open dropped, club management blamed

Feb 24, 2024 11:05 PM IST

Launched with fanfare in 2022, the Asian Tour co-sanctioned golf event will not take place this year amid internal wrangling

The DGC Open, India's only Asian Tour co-sanctioned golf event, will not return for its third edition this year. This means for the first time in over four decades, India will not host an Asian Tour event this season, leaving a sparse international footprint in the country further scarce.

The decision was taken at a General Council (GC) meeting of the Delhi Golf Club recently "without seeking any consensus".
The decision was taken at a General Council (GC) meeting of the Delhi Golf Club recently "without seeking any consensus".

The decision was taken at a General Council (GC) meeting of the Delhi Golf Club recently "without seeking any consensus".

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A senior club official said: “It is the decision of the new management. The topic was never debated or placed on agenda. We can say that it was a unilateral decision from the club president.”

The inaugural DGC Open (2022) had a prize money of $500,000 which was increased by 50% the following season.

"Money was never an issue. We had Mastercard as our sponsors for the first two editions. In fact, we made about 50 lakh each year. Even if there was a problem with the sponsors, the new management never went about looking for options. It's a result of some members not being happy with the previous GC getting the limelight," the official, who did not wish to be identified, said.

Certain members of the GC also didn't appreciate the course being out of bounds for members for about a month. “It takes about two weeks to prepare the course for the competition and the event itself runs for a week. So, for at least 3-4 weeks, the course is not available to members. Quite a few of them didn't like that.”

Club president Kishan Bajoria pinned the blame on the sponsors and the Asian Tour. "Unfortunately, Mastercard pulled out. Also, the Asian Tour didn't show much inclination in continuing with the tournament," Bajoria said.

Mastercard declined to comment while Asian Tour and multiple club officials refuted Bajoria's version.

"India has always been an integral part of the Asian Tour. A large part of our membership is made up of Indian players and India has featured on the Asian Tour schedule regularly throughout our existence. We remain committed to doing tournaments in India and at the Delhi Golf Club which has been one of our traditional venues through the years. Delhi Golf Club has produced a number of champions and has been witness to many iconic moments in Asian golf folklore. Regarding the DGC Open, a tournament promoted and owned by Delhi Golf Club, the opportunity to return in 2024 has not been presented by the club, which has expressed inability to continue with the tournament. However, we hope to return in future seasons,” Cho Minn Thant, Commissioner and CEO of Asian Tour, said.

"DGC has lost out on a tournament simply because of internal politics. It has got nothing to do with sponsors," another senior DGC member, who didn't want to be identified, claimed.

The absence of the lone Asian Tour event in India means many domestic golfers will miss the opportunity to gain crucial ranking points and play alongside international players.

"It is a big loss, especially for young golfers. Not every golfer has the means to travel overseas and play on the Asian Tour. We have to shell out $3000 as entry fee just to participate in the qualifying stage. In that context, a lot of Indians will miss out on an opportunity," Shamim Khan, who was tied 10th in the 2022 DGC Open, said.

Launched with fanfare in the presence of South African golf great Gary Player in 2022, DGC Open witnessed encouraging participation from Indian golfers with Veer Ahlawat, Yuvraj Sandhu, SSP Chawrasia and Gaganjeet Bhullar among those who turned up.

"It is a blow, especially for the youngsters. Luckily, with PGTI opening its coffers, all is not lost for us," said Rashid Khan, the 2023 DGC Open runner-up.

That said, the legacy and pride associated with the historic club has taken a hit with the tournament off the calendar. "We used to host the Indian Open for a number of years and to have an international tournament named after the club was a matter of honour. Sadly, not everyone sees it that way," an official said.

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    Shantanu Srivastava is an experienced sports journalist who has worked across print and digital media. He covers cricket and Olympic sports.

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