Dec 31, 2006

Golf In India - Elitist Still

Today was my first golfing day in Hyderabad and I guess have seen enough to post a small one on this. The only other course in India where I have played a few times is the East Point Golf Club in Visakhapatnam.

The feeling one gets is that in India, golf is undoubtedly an elitist sport. In general golfers are people who are very well off in society coming from at least in the top 1% percentile. Contrast this with the US where the average course is frequented by the average Joe who carries his own kit and who could be anywhere above say, the bottom 25% percentile. Most golfers in India tend to be older people and have caddie boys running at their beck and call - it is almost a must to hire a caddie in India at a golf course unlike the US. This caddie thing almost seems to have a feudal/colonial hangover to it too, the way the poor boys are treated at times.

Things seem to be changing for the good with the likes of Jeev Milkha Singh (Awarded Top #1 Sportsman of India by ToI) and Jyoti Randhawa bringing in more young blood into the sport. But the Secunderabad golf course I visited today doesn't give that sense with several 40+ folks and the distinct old-buddy-network feel. Being run by the armed forces adds to this dimension too, but then this 125 year old place wouldn't have either existed or been what it is today without the Indian Army.

One hopes the sport picks up more in India so that we can compete with the Koreans, Japanese and Chinese in Asia first before stepping into the wider world. I am sure this has greater potential to bring more fame and global business to India than cricket, played by a mere handful of countries.

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