Around the third week of October, Srikumar Menon, Managing Director, BOC India, announced a higher year-on-year third quarter turnover for his company; a creditable performance that was, however, tinged by lower net profits. A fortnight later, though, as he contentedly tucked into his breakfast at a pavilion off the fairways at Kolkata's Tollygunge Club, tricky financials seemed farthest from his mind. "I am here to play golf. It is a great platform to meet friends," he said.
Menon - Shri to his friends - was referring to the 2012 Business Today-Honda Pro-Am tournament, held at the club's idyllic 18-hole golf course. About 80 golf enthusiasts from the city's corporate set descended on the lush greens of the 115-year-old club on Saturday, November 5 - marking the Kolkata chapter of the tournament's 17th edition - and having fun was the credo.
BT-Honda Pro-Am of Champions in its 17th year
Harminder Bindra, CEO, Dip Software Solutions, winner in the 11-18 individual handicap & team category
Vivek Jaireth, who owns a leather chemicals business, and also runs a chain of golf equipment stores in eastern India and Bhutan, maintained he seldom plays golf on Saturdays. "But I am here today because of the tournament," he said. Jaireth, a member of the neighbouring Royal Calcutta Golf Club, India's oldest and a rival to the Tolly Club, added: "I look forward to this event every year." This is his fifth year at the meet. "It is a great tournament, superbly organised, great food, the level of competition, the way they look after people. Everything is superb."
Deep Banerjee, Regional Head, East, UTI Asset Management, member of the runners-up team
Both Menon and Jaireth fared rather badly in the tournament. But Menon was unabashed. "I am enjoying myself, and people who have fun don't win," he said. "I don't think I am anywhere in contention." Jaireth took it less lightly: "It is one of my bad days," he said. Having arrived for the rather early tee-off, at 7.30 a.m., the duo was happy just putting away. As was Harminder Bindra, the lanky CEO of Dip Software Solutions. "I came here and enjoyed my round… it was challenging," said Bindra, who was declared winner in the 11-18 handicap category with 39 points. He walked away with the winner's trophy, plus a travel bag from co-title sponsor Honda Siel Cars, and a bottle of Scotch from Ballantine's.
The Honda CRV for a hole-in-one that nobody won
Bindra also won a trip to the national final to be held in Delhi in the first week of March next year. Other individual winners were Sanjay Ajemra with 40 points (in the 19-24 handicap category) and Jayanta Gohain with a very creditable 39 points (in the 0-10 handicap group). Like Bindra, they too will now swing it out at the national final in their respective categories against winners from Chandigarh, Bangalore and Mumbai.
Deep Banerjee (R) receiving the runners-up award from Gaurab Parija, National Sales Director, Franklin Templeton India
It was a double bonanza for Bindra, who along with Vikram Singh, Vinod Kumar Chamria and Sanjay Chowdhury, won the team event with 105 points as well. The quartet beat the team of Tejen Banerjee, Indranil Chakravarty, Deep Banerjee and Vivek Diwan. The team winners won a trip to Dubai where they will stay at the hotel, 'The Address', and play golf at the Montgomerie Golf Resort.
Vivek Diwan (R), part of the runners-up team, with Gaurab Parija
Despite being part of the runners-up team, Chakravarty, who works with Cognizant, seemed content. "This was my first year at the event, and it was simply awesome," he said, sipping his beverage.
Jnaneswar Sen (L), Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Honda Siel Cars India, giving the prize to Jayanta Gohain, winner in the 0–10 individual handicap category
Vipul Hoon, General Manager, Marketing, Business Today, announced the results over lunch. Jnaneswar Sen, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Honda Siel Cars, gave away the prizes to the winners while Gaurab Parija, National Sales Director, Franklin Templeton India, awarded the runners-up. Sadly, there was no one eligible for one of the most sought-after prizes: a Honda CRV that was to have been awarded to anyone who shot a hole-in-one.
Jnaneswar Sen (L) with Vikram Singh, Deputy Managing Director, Naresh Kumar & Co., member of the winning team
While Honda Siel was the co-title sponsor along with Business Today, Franklin Templeton and ITC Hotels were the associate partners, with Dubai-based 'The Address' being the destination partner, PING the official equipment partner, Neo Sports the television partner, Ballantine's the beverage partner, and Golf Digest the official magazine partner.