Keep walking with brief stops

Somebody asked me the other day why this highprofile tournament had decided to make a stopover in India. Golf is picking up, but I feel it has something more to do with our drinking habits. We are the champion whisky drinkers of the world. Why not make it a Johnnie Walker?

Print Edition: March 23, 2008

Prabhdev Singh
Prabhdev Singh
Drinks on the house. The man in the tail coat and top hat is visiting the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon and dishing out gifts. The first one to ace the 16th, the signature hole there, during the third and the fourth rounds of the Johnnie Walker Classic 2008, will get a bottle of King George V Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky. What’s more, the bottle is specially blended for the occasion. That’s not all. Rolex will throw in a chronometer. You can stopwatch yourself as the smooth blend slips down your throat.

As we all know, hole-in-ones are not a common occurrence but they are still very much within the realms of possibility. Ajai Gupta, who is now the Tour Commissioner of the Professional Golf Tour of India, was playing at a Johnnie Walker tournament once where the deal was that anybody who shot an ace would be rewarded with his weight in the Scotch whisky. Now Gupta is not exactly lightweight and the company was lighter by 100-odd bottles by the time it lived up to its promise. Coincidence or otherwise, the incentive was withdrawn very quickly thereafter.

Coming back to the latest tournament, there’s some more Blue Label to be had during the last two rounds, this time on the 14th, according to the company website. There’s a small catch here: The distance to hole is 565 yards. Therefore, I’m willing to bet my designer socks that this bottle of whisky is safe. This “stunning large bottle” is going straight back to the company vault even if Tiger Woods decides to show up. I don’t care if long driving champion Jason Zuback, who has arms the size of tree trunks, is a last-minute entry. This bottle of Blue is for show.

Star power: (L-R) Jeev Milkha Singh, Ian Poulter and Vijay Singh
(left to right) Jeev Milkha Singh, Ian Poulter and Vijay Singh

They may have pulled a fast one on the 14th, but Johnnie Walker is ensuring that it stays the #1 Scotch whisky brand in the world by giving out a bottle to each one of the professionals who will play the tournament. No better way to build brands than letting potential customers sample your wares.

Talking about brand promotion, somebody asked me the other day why this very high-profile tournament, which travels to exotic destinations around Asia and also goes to Australia, had decided to make a stopover in India. I think the answer is pretty simple. Golf is picking up in India and the world outside is getting to know that there actually are some golf courses in this country and a few people do play the game, some very well. But more than that I feel it has something to do with our drinking habits. We are the champion whisky drinkers of the world. Why not make it a Johnnie Walker?

Tip I tried: Mixing and matching clubs, especially among club golfers, is a fairly new development. About a generation ago, you just bought a full set of 14 clubs that came bubble-wrapped in a golf bag of the same brand. You peek into most bags now and you’ll find a lot of variety. For example, a TaylorMade driver could be sitting next to a set of Callaway irons. The wedges and putter could be Titleist. Which is not a bad thing. More than just going with a brand, you need to see what works for you.

— Prabhdev Singh is Editor, Golf Digest India

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