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Beeline for golf course

Cricket crazy Patnaites have developed a taste for golf.

The rush at Golf Academy to learn the nuances of teeing off in style from experts is an eye-opener for those who thought the city ate, slept and lived cricket. Bunker shots and putts are in vogue. (See graphics)

More than 80 people have taken admission to a three-month course at Golf Academy run by Patna Golf Club. For students, the course fee is Rs 10,000. Others have to pay Rs 20,000.

The admission for the first batch started on August 25. Before a fortnight, the batch was full.

The first batch of Golf Academy comprises people from different walks of life — students, lawyers, doctors and businessmen. And they are just loving “cuts” and “hooks”.

Manik Vedsen, the secretary of Patna Golf Club, said the academy was started to promote golf in the city.

“Those who want to play golf in the state capital do not have many options. They can learn it in Patna Golf Club only. But getting membership of the club is an uphill task. Also, Patna Golf Club cannot accommodate each and every go- lfer of the city. With a view to fulfil the aspirations of people, especially the young ones, eager to the game, the Golf Academy has been set up,” he said.

After the academy’s inception, Patna Golf Club membership is no more mandatory to learn the game.

Vedsen said: “At present, we have a permanent coach, Shashi Raj, in the academy. Shashi’s son, Aman, ranked fourth in the recently held World Junior Championship. Shashi trained him. We will also invite national-level golfers and coaches to train the students.”

He said: “National-level golfer-cum-coach S.K. Patil is training the first batch of the Golf Academy at present. Associated with Royal Calcutta Golf Club, he will train the first batch of students till September 16. We are planning to invite more national-level coaches to the academy after that. The experience of the national-level coaches will definitely help the budding golfers improve their game.”

After the three-month course, the budding golfers can expect to get their basics right.

He said: “The trainees will learn how to drive, chip and putt. They would be taught bunker shots (hitting balls lying in a sand bunker) and how to hit a ball lying on slopes or on a rough patch. During the three-month course, the trainees will get a chance to attend a number of workshops that will tell them about the rules and etiquettes of golf. Besides, golf quiz would be conducted to make students aware of the sport in a better way.”

Those unable to pick up the game within three months would be given the option of extending their training period for another three months. But that would come for a premium — Rs 10,000.

Vedsen said: “We are training some poor children in the academy free of cost. They have also been provided with golf clubs and balls like the regular trainees.”

Justice Samrendra Paratap Singh, the president of Patna Golf Club, said: “Trainees enrolled in the course will have to attend 40 classes of two hours each. Three classes will be conducted every week. It is up to the trainees to decide which days they want to attend classes.”

The learners of the game enjoy themselves to the hilt each day they hit the course.

Rahul Gupta, a businessman, said: “Playing golf was my hobby. As I wanted to master the game, I was thinking about enrolling myself into some course but the city had dearth of academies to learn golf. When I heard about the Golf Academy, I was thrilled. Without wasting time, I enrolled myself into the first batch of Golf Academy.”

J.S. Arora, another businessman who has taken admission in the first batch of the academy, is also thrilled.

“You can gauge my excitement by the change in my wake-up time. Earlier, I used to wake up around 9am. Now I wake up as early as 6am to join my golf classes. After few days of training, I am feeling more energetic. Golf is a good game. Not only it makes you mentally and physically fit but also makes you disciplined. I have become more disciplined.”

Manikant Mishra, a government pleader at the high court, said: “The Golf Academy is a good initiative of Patna Golf Club. Undergoing training under national-level golf coaches in Patna is near impossible. But we are doing that. Golf Academy has made it possible.”