The story of India’s tryst with golf started way back in 1829. India was the first country outside of Great Britain to take up the game of golf. The Royal Calcutta Golf Club, established in 1829, is the oldest golf club in India, and the first outside Great Britain. With the growing influence of the British in the Indian empire, the eighteenth century saw a mushrooming of new golf clubs in India. Wherever land was available and grass grew, golf found a new HOME.
After the first Club, there were a series of golf clubs that were established all across India. With the oldest club being established in Calcutta, clubs in Bombay and Bangalore soon followed. The Royal Bombay Club was established next in 1842 followed by the Royal Bangalore Club and The Shillong Club in 1876 and 1886 respectively.
Over the last decade golf has immensely grown as a sport. Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, Ali Sher have been legendary names to reckon with and now the young Anirban Lahiri and Rashid Khan are bringing golf to the youth. And yes! How can we not mention, our female teen golfer Aditi Ashok who was among the early leaders in the women’s tournament at the 2016 Rio Olympics and parlayed that experience into two victories in the fall on the Ladies European Tour, where she earned top rookie honors for 2016 and finished second in earnings with seven top-10 finishes. Other female golfers like Sharmila Nicollet and Vani Kapoor have also been performing commendably.
Anirban Lahiri is the only native of India with full status on the PGA Tour. Arjun Atwal, currently ranked 969th, remains the only Indian winner on the PGA Tour, with his victory at the 2010 Wyndham Championship. Daniel Chopra, winner of two PGA Tour titles, grew up in India but is a Swedish citizen.
Till date, no Indian woman has ever won an L.P.G.A. Tour event. Ashok, at No. 100, is the highest-ranked Indian woman since Simi Mehra, who played on the tour for several years beginning in 1997 and attained a career-high ranking of No. 17 in 1998. Only six Indian women are currently world ranked, compared with 148 Indian men.
With significantly fewer women playing the game in India, this is great to see these talented sportswomen qualifying for such world fame tours. Also, the class barriers have been broken along with the stereotype of associating this sport with an elitist crowd of players. It is indeed interesting to see this game being finally getting the popularity that it has been deprived of in a nation that has been primarily obsessed with cricket.