Saturday, March 01, 2008

Namaste’ and Nine-Irons

It’s not like golf was non-existent in India.

Under British rule, there were 100 golf courses, usually under the operation of the Royal British Forces. After India gained its independence in 1947, about another 100 courses were built. That makes 200 courses for roughly 1 billion people, which, one would surmise, make tee times rare and at a premium.

Or, take into account that India’s middle class has yet to really blossom. Almost 28% of India’s population still lives below the poverty line, with just over 80% of the population living on less than $2 (USD)/per day.

Or, take into account that Cricket has always been the most popular sport in India.

However, with their recent loss in the Cricket World Cup, golf has gained popular ground in India through some of its own countrymen.

SSP Chowrasia, recently won the Indian Masters, the European PGA Tour’s first-ever event in India. Arjun Atwal has been a touring professional since 1995, and is now back on the Nationwide Tour after a 4-year stint on the PGA circuit.

But nobody has assisted the ascension of golf’s popularity better than Sir Jeev Milkha Singh. Singh, who was given the esteemed “Padma Shri” by the President of India (kind of like being knighted), recently accepted an invitation to the 2008 Masters at Augusta National.

Also on his list of Indian firsts:

First to play PGA European Tour, first to play in US PGA Tour qualifying, and was the first Indian golfer to play in a US Open (1997-Bethpage).

This week, the city of New Delhi hosts the Johnnie Walker Classic. This is the 2nd of three golf tournaments the country will host this year.

With its burgeoning economy and relative position in the ‘global’ economy, it’s easy to see why the game of Golf has taken a firm hold in India.

1 Comentário:

Anonymous said...

Golf in India is like ice skating in the Sahara Desert...

I hear Southwest flies to India through Midland, TX....its only 30 hours of travel weekend?


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