Get set to tee off at the Tolly Airtel Golf Centre, from dawn to dark
A two-level 16 + 16 driving range that opens on to a 190-yard range built within a 97ft-high netted enclosure near The Tollygunge Club parking zone. “Effectively, someone who can hit up to 280 yards can practise here,” says Indrajit. Open from 5.45am to 9.30pm, it’s the first floodlit golf facility in Calcutta (RCGC will be introducing floodlit golf soon.)
“A world-class golfing academy was something I always wanted to do. When Tolly decided to come up with this, they had an open bid in October. I’m not a businessman but I put everything I had on the table. The club wanted the project ready by January 31. Putting up a structure of this standard in three months is unheard of in Calcutta. So I stood here from 6am to midnight making sure that deadlines were met. It’s very tough for you to visualise something and have the entire committee of the club share your vision. There has to be a lot of belief in each other. Tolly is my home — I’ve probably spent more time in Tolly than at home!
“We already have kids coming in from Bombay and even Southeast Asia. There are kids from Jamshedpur who come here every Friday and go back Sunday night. Golf has always been a game for the caddies or the upper class. The rest had no access to the game, until now. A beginner here pays Rs 900 a month.”
TEAM OF TEACHERS
The 16 teachers include five-time winner on the Indian PGA Tour Indrajit Bhalotia, TPI-certified Level 1 trainer Rukmini Mehta, B-category coach Siddharth Nag and veteran golfer Basad Ali. Plus, there’s yoga teacher Benoy Bera from the Bihar School of Yoga who trained S.S.P. Chowrasia before he won his first European tour event in 2008, fitness consultant Anwar Wahhab, bio-mechanic trainer Supriya Sana, and visiting sports psychologist Irina Brar, ex-national champ from Chandigarh.
REPAIR & FITTINGS: Tailor-make your equipment or repair any of the 14 clubs in your golf set. The iron bending machine, shaft extractor, gripping station and putter-fitting and bending machines from Mitchell (USA) makes this facility top-class.
Pocket pinch: A lesson costs between Rs 300 (entry-level coach) and Rs 1,200 (senior coach) for half an hour. Monthly packages range between Rs 900 and Rs 3,500 for eight classes, depending on the time and level of coach (11am to 2pm slots cost less). A bucket of balls for a member costs Rs 40, the “cheapest in the country”, says Indrajit.
Junior national golf champ Viraj Madappa swings it at the four-camera studio adjacent to the bays. The cameras break up each shot into 60 frames per second. There are special lights fitted in this zone.
SPORTS SCIENCE FACILITY
Instructor Rukmini Mehta shows young golfers up to eight kinds of readings on putting. “What makes the Sports Science Facility unique from other facilities in the country is that there’s everything under one roof — a sports psychologist, sports nutritionist, bio-mechanic trainer, yoga for golf, a mini theatre for theory classrooms and a library of golf books,” says Indrajit.
For a refuel, stop by Salsa Grill, Nikhil Chawla’s second venture after Mocha, next door.
The K-vest has four sensors on the hand, waist, chest and back. “The 3D software allows users to compare swing patterns with the world’s top PGA and LPGA players,” says Indrajit. All the sensors create a network that can be mapped on the computer.
Text: Karo Christine Kumar
Pictures: Pabitra Das