Saturday, 25 May 2024

A RESOUNDING THUMBS UP | India’s golf potential encourages R&A to lend full support to IGU for development

IANS | Updated on Friday, March 29, 2024 11:03 AM IST
India’s golf potential encourages R&A to lend full support to IGU for development

GURUGRAM: Indian golf’s growing status and the potential it holds got a resounding thumbs up from the golf’s governing body, the R&A, who are here in India this week. As the Indian Golf Union plays host to the 57th edition of the Indian Open, Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrew (R&A) officials Neal Graham, the Development Manager, Middle East and India, as also Jerome Ng, Regional Director (Asia-Pacific) Development, are here in India for a seminar and discuss various future projects in India.

Graham said, “Well first and foremost the role of the R&A from the development side is to support our affiliates across the 145 countries. And obviously, I’m very fortunate to look after the Middle East and India. India, given the size of the country, has a lot of opportunities. We believe it’s very important that we support the Indian Golf Union in its initiatives and programmes to develop golf. And that’s not just about high performance, that’s looking from grassroots and upwards to that.”

Echoing the sentiments of Graham, Ng said, “India is definitely one of our key focus markets for innovation, especially in the future. And hence, that's the reason why we actually hosted the strategy workshop with the IGU this week. I think we had a full day where we actually hosted the council members, coming in together to brainstorm the pathways for Indian golf in the near and far future.

"I think the future is bright for Indian golf because there are a lot of passionate individuals within the council. Of course, there are always more problems to be solved, but I think that's why people are there. I think having a strategic plan paves the way forward for any successful organisation, I think that's what we'll see,” he said.

Brijinder Singh, President of the IGU, is very satisfied with the support and interest that R&A is showing in India.

“In any new marriage, both sides need to understand each other. So we've been very happy with the relationship we share with the R&A. Neal (Graham) has been very supportive and has been guiding us with the best practices that have been practiced around the world. They took up this opportunity to come to India, they hosted our entire council, and we had a full-day brainstorming session.

"They invested their time and organised this conference. We understood a lot of things we did not think about, and after this brainstorming session, a lot of notebooks have been filled. We will use all the good information that we have received. We look forward to R&A’s continued support,” he said.

“These gentlemen bring a world of experience, and the very fact that they are concerned, they come to us, they share with us, they share our concerns about growing golf in India. I think that the biggest learning for us has been from their presence more than anything else,” he added.

Graham further felt there was a need to make golf more appealing and added, “First of all, we have to understand what people are saying, whether it’s within the golf circles or the stakeholders. We have to understand what their needs are. It's important that we look at improving the perception of the game of golf. We understand that here in India, cricket is the No. 1 sport, it takes up a lot of time and it takes up a lot of potential opportunities.

"But we work very closely with the international federations to change the perception of the game, to make it more attractive. We are aware that golf takes a long time to play – 4 to 5 hours. We do quite a bit of short course formats of the game to make it more appealing, more accessible as well,” he added.

“The R&A is supporting what the IGU needs. We’re very keen to help and assist them in building that pathway from grassroots all the way through to high performance. That is our No. 1 objective to help and support.”

“As I said earlier, there is a great opportunity. There is a huge population. I think there is, what has been pleasing to see, there is a great willingness to promote the game across the country, whether it’s through the IGU, the state golf associations, and other state clubs. So that’s a real positive, that there is a willingness,” he said.

The R&A plans to make regular visits to India and not just monitor the progress but also help in setting up future projects, especially at the junior level.