Day two of the junior achievers’ camp, held throughout the Hero Women’s Indian Open, saw Champika Sayal, Secretary-General of the Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI) take centre stage.
The camp, an initiative of the WGAI in partnership with the Ladies European Tour (LET) and the Indian Golf Union (IGU), is also supported by The R&A.
Sayal, whose experience with the sport goes back 45 years, spoke to the juniors at the DLF Golf and Country Club about how they could go ahead with careers in the game. “I want every junior who takes up golf to believe that the game is their ‘BFF’, or best friend forever.”
“You must watch these golfers play your national open and observe what they do. The LET players are friendly and motivational.” She also said that it is important to know Indian icons in the game, as they will be able to inspire the next wave of golfers. In her words, the process must continue from one generation to another: “the wheel must keep turning.”
“Showcasing to these kids India’s marquee golf tournament will make them think when they go back home to their cities. They would perhaps want to play this very tournament one day.”
She also spoke about the imperative things that junior golfers should keep in mind while playing the game including career counselling, preparation for a tournament, and volunteering at various steps of the game apart from other characteristics she has harboured over years of experience.
At the halfway mark of the day, Anjali Yadav who works at the DLF Academy as a full-time in-house fitness professional put the juniors through with a golf specific fitness clinic that included burpees, squats and other team building exercises, much to their delight.
They were also ushered to two clinics held by India’s Neha Tripathi and Scotland’s Carly Booth. Tripathi who is one of the leading players on the WGAI spoke about the essentials attached to the full swing including judging distances, the importance of a pre-shot routine and the pressure attached to playing the game professionally.
“When I was growing up playing golf, there were not even these many kids as there are in this camp today. Goes to show the gradual growth of the game,” she said, soon after her clinic came to a close.
Booth has two wins on the LET apart from clocking a stellar junior and amateur career during which she broke numerous records. On the DLF driving range, she hit a few shots for the juniors explaining her reasons to turn professional early and balancing all aspects of life as an athlete. When asked by a junior what her most pressure-packed moment as a professional was, she spoke about her win at the Swiss Open back in 2012.
“We were in a three-way playoff (including Germans Anja Monke and Caroline Masson) during which we birdied the par five 18th hole three times each. It took an eagle during the fourth extra hole to finally shut the door and take the trophy home. When we go out and play every day, it’s this feeling that we try and replicate.”
At the end of the day the LET caught up with some juniors to ask them about their experiences. Aditi Singh from Delhi who is a nine-handicap said this opportunity was amazing. “I have watched the Women’s British Open on television and to see some of these players in person is just unreal.”
Aashera Sethi from Kolkata is a ten handicap and spoke about the perspective she has gained over the last two days. “Showing us briefly what life on tour is life makes me want to go back and work on my game because I have realised that while spectating is wonderful, I’d like to be on the other side competing soon.”
Aditi and Aashera are both aspiring professional golfers and echo Sayal’s thoughts. Perhaps one of the juniors attending this camp one day would come back to play their national open, only time will tell. Until then, they look forward to the final round, soaking up the experience at this year’s Women’s Indian Open.
By Aman Misra in Gurgaon