When Jason Chennault joined the team at The Royal in June, it was just a few months into his marriage with Russian golfer Svetlana Gounkina. He thought hed be honeymooning in Calcutta looking out for elephants and tigers but as golf course superintendent, Jason had the task of ensuring that the fairways were in good shape for the tournament. When I first saw the course at RCGC I was like Wow! because I had heard about its tradition and history, being the oldest course outside the British Isles and I was really excited, says Jason. In two months, the expert increased the speed of the greens from 6.5 to 8-plus, even 9.5 on some holes. My biggest objective in 12 months is to get the greens to roll through consistently and narrow the gap between the different speeds, adds the American who was last assigned at Russias Pestovo Golf and Yacht Club, which hosted the 2008 European Tour Russian Senior Open.
Ask him his favourite hole on the course and the man who has tended courses in Philippines, Costa Rica and The Bahamas picks the third hole.
Psssst: Hes also looking at a major redesigning of the course with a noted golf course architect.
His wife is no less a khiladi. In 1998, Svetlana became the first Russian golfer to receive full scholarship (both athletic and academic) to a private American University. She allegedly remains the first and only Russian with a degree in Golf Management.
But she could be a model, too!
THE OUTSTATION GOLFER
Ranvijai Singh has been participating in the Cup from 1981. In his early days, he was a freelance model and a passionate polo player in Calcutta. At 21, he joined the tea business and his first garden was Hanwel in Jorhat. When Singh was transferred to the Dooars, life was glorious as the manager of a tea plantation. Dark days may have followed, with labour unrest and a shootout leading to his bungalow being burnt down. But even then, Singh never missed a single year of the tournament. After we got married (with Geeteshwari in picture) we kept up the annual tradition. In fact, we would come a day earlier to get used to the greens because in Assam we didnt have courses of this standard, he says. Today, Singh is here with 50 others representing McLeod Russel India Ltd.
SHE WHO BEARS THE CUP OF JOY
Kajal Haldar is most in demand on the golf course. As the lady in brown drives her mobile cart of refreshments through the greens, golfers wave out to her in anticipation. A cold towel or a cool drink later, they are refuelled sufficiently to complete their game. People say I make the best fresh lime in the club, says the shy mother of two, who has been taking her place behind the wheel at 6am every morning for the last 15 years. Be it Pulpy Orange, Appy Fizz, Cola or Red Bull, Kajal stocks it all.
Brandon de Souza wraps up Day Three (July 28) of the golf tournament.
Golfers are a funny breed. The strangest thing happened yesterday — a guy came up to me and said, “I’d like to change my timing. I want to go later at 9.40am.” So I asked him, “What’s your usual time?” and he said 9.30am. Is Vastu taking over golf?
Young guns of the day
A special mention goes to Nathan Remedios, 18. He tells me he’s going to get into graphic designing, then starts training as a deejay under DJ Akash. Now
he’s mad about golf. Another strapping young lad man is Raghuvir Choudhary, 16. Ask the Class X student his favourite class and with due respect to his
teachers, golf is his reply. The third young man is Vedant Jaitha, 19, from America’s Purdue University, in town for the tournament with a commendable score of 36.
The hole story
If Day Two saw a bleeding lip, Day Three saw one of the golfers live up to what we were always worried about — a hole-in-one…. in his shorts! Lucky he had an extra pair.
Regardless of the proceedings on Day Four, Williamson Magor (A) will successfully defend its title in this year’s tourney.
Women finally made their presence felt on the course. There were a few who lightened up the course like Sucharita Moitra and Harjyoti Bindra. Here’s looking forward to more of the fairer sex who seem to have boycotted the game.
After the power-packed game on Day Four, the action will shift to the Oberoi Grand for the Final Night of The Telegraph Cup Golf 2011. Overheard: Men discussing their dress code for the big night. And you thought only women were vain!
Karo Christine Kumar