You have to admire those who make a living out of playing a sport, more so in our kind of an environment. It takes a bold mindset to detach from the relative comforts of a regular pay cheque, and gamble with the vagaries of form on the playing field. We generally tend to look at the bright side-the travelling around the world (which may not necessarily be a perk these days), the money and its spin offs, and the time and space in the media.
There is a corollary attached to all of this. Whatever it is that these guys play, they need to be playing it really well to pay for all the travel, the hotels, and, of course, the dreaded end-of-the-month bills. The media usually comes in when you have a proven winner on your hands.
It's a take no prisoners situation out there and stragglers are confined to the unknown. I happened to spend more than a few hours with some of our leading golf professionals a few weekends ago. The DLF Masters, part of the Professional Golf Tour of India schedule, has come up with an interesting format.
Of the four days of the tournament, once the halfway cut is applied and the field is reduced to about half, a team of two pros and an amateur play a team event that runs concurrently over the last two rounds. For no fault of theirs, Rahul Ganapathy and Sandeep Syal had me for company on a wet Saturday. So wet that play was delayed by four hours and when it finally got underway, you could pick and place your golf ball on the fairway as it tended to get embedded in the soggy turf.
In an attempt to distract the two from my golf, I chatted. The Southern Sirens-Ganapathy is from Mysore and Syal from Chennai—have defied the odds to be where they are. Golf in India is divided into pockets and the southern part of the country hasn't produced top quality players for various reasons, among them lack of infrastructure and role models.
Master’s play: Ganapathy in his stride
Ganapathy, 29, was different. Much was expected from the Mysore man when he came on tour eight years ago. All those years and 26 second place finishes later (he has been counting), Ganapathy currently tops the PGTI order of merit. He finally broke through not very far from home when he won the Global Green Bangalore Open in the third week of December last year.
He has won another couple of events since then. I was just too much into golf earlier on. I would be practising and playing and then I would go home and watch some golf or instruction video. The arrival of Veer (son) has changed all that. Now when I get home, I just switch off from golf and that seems to have helped.Understandably, he is relieved to get the pressure off.
You keep plugging on in the hope that some day something will click. After Bangalore, I am playing like a new man.Ganapathy can count himself among the lucky few. Majority of the golfers out there plod on looking for a similar break. Of course, there is no escaping the north Indian connection. Ganapathy's wife is a Sikh and his coach is Delhi Golf Club much sought after Romit Bose.