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Tee-off toppers come to town
- Royal gears up to host biggest golf tourney in over a decade

The big boys are coming to the Calcutta greens this winter — and for once we don’t mean the cricketers.

A three-week-long golfing gala rounds off with the McLeod Russel Tour Championship from November 28 at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC), with 60 pros vying for a total prize money of Rs 1.25 crore.

“All the big Indian golfers will be here. That includes S.S.P. Chowrasia, Rahil Gangjee, Jyoti Randhawa and Digvijay Singh. Trying to make it will be Arjun Atwal, who is ‘very keen to come’ but may have to attend qualifying school in the US to get his PGA card. We hope Shiv Kapur will also be able make it,” said Gaurav Ghosh, convener for junior/professional golf, RCGC.

What does it mean for Calcutta to host the the Professional Golf Tour of India’s 2012 season finale? “This marks the return of big-time golf to the city. The last big-ticket event that came here was the Indian Open in 1999. It’s a great thing for RCGC and for golf in this part of the world,” said Sanjay Agarwal, golf convener, RCGC.

The precursor to the big-ticket championship is Barclays presents the Royal Cup, in association with RCGC, on November 17-18. The two-day grind will choose 60 amateurs — 20 each from three handicap categories — for the Pro-Am on November 27.

“In a Pro-Am, amateurs get a chance to rub shoulders with professionals. Each team will have one pro and three amateurs,” said veteran golfer Lakshman ‘Bunny’ Singh, who will be participating in the Pro-Am.

The Royal Cup will wrap up with a prize presentation dinner at The Tea Lawn in RCGC with stand-up comedian Rohan Joshi tickling the funnybone on November 18.

“The whole idea is to bring the party back to Calcutta and all that Calcutta stood for,” said Brandon de Souza, MD & CEO of Tiger Sports Marketing Pvt. Ltd, who is managing the line-up of high-profile golfing events.

And dressing up for the party is the 1829-born club. “The Royal is going to be unrecognisable. It’s like a mini US Open, with reclining chairs, foot massages and a 40-seater Royal Box overlooking the 18th green so you can see the players approaching. There will even be a Player’s Lounge outside the bar area — where players can check mail, play foosball, darts, relax and unwind,” added Brandon.

Adding a dash of fun will be trick-shot king Jeremy Dale, who will show off his magic golf skills on November 27, 29 and 30.

Sandwiched between the two events is the ITC Cup from November 17-24, the largest corporate championship in Asia, which will host more than 800 golfers and over 200 teams in a span of eight days at the Tollygunge Club.

With Calcutta on the green map again, isn’t it time to try and bring the Indian Open back to the city?

“After 1999, the Indian Open was confined to Delhi. This year onwards, it is being played in rotation. Bangalore was the host venue this time. Since the idea is that all major golf tournaments must uplift the sport throughout the country, the IGU (Indian Golf Union) is working on bringing the Indian Open to Calcutta in 2014,” said Satbinder Singh, Indian Open council member.

Now that’s what we would call a hole-in-one.