Sharif Khan in Jamshedpur on Tuesday. (Bhola Prasad)
Fifteen-year-old Sharif Khan is living every caddie’s dream.
The teenage golfer from Jamshedpur is leading the list of qualifiers from east zone for the national finals of the Tata Steel Sub-Junior Tour to be held in three cities across India later this year.
But it wasn’t always like this.
The son of flower decorator Shafique Khan, Sharif started out as a caddie in 2009 on the golf course of Beldih Club.
Tips from golfers would make the boy’s day.
As a caddie, Sharif would, in his free time, swing imaginary putts in the air. As fate would have it, while doing so one day in 2011, he caught the eye of Md Kalam, one of the coaches of Tata Steel Golf Training Centre. The centre operates out of an enclosure at the Beldih golf course.
Coach Kalam, who felt that the boy had natural talent, asked him to learn golfing.
Disbelieving at first, the boy joined the centre. Soon, he was learning all about about putts, tees, strokes, pars and holes.
Two years later, Sharif, who studies in Class IX in Loyola Project School and stays with his family in an outhouse near the military camp at Circuit House, will pit his putt against some of the most gifted young golfers in India.
The finals will be held across three editions — Calcutta (October 21-25), Mumbai (November 18-22) and Coimbatore (December 2-6). The top two players emerging out of the national finals will directly enter the next season of IGU National Junior Tour.
In golf, the goal is to play as few strokes per round as possible. A golfer’s score is usually expressed as the difference between the player’s number of strokes and the par score.
Though Sharif knows he’s playing what is commonly known as a rich man’s game, he is already a professional without hang-ups.
“I’m playing well for some six months now. I hope to continue with my form. The rest is in the hands of the almighty,” Sharif said.
Sharif added that his stint as a caddie “helped me learn a few tricks by simply watching players”.
He also watches golf on TV whenever he can. Tiger Woods, now on a comeback streak, is the teen’s idol. “Tiger is my hero,” Sharif grinned.
He’s also realistic. “Golf is a costly game and I cannot afford to buy a set of clubs. I was gifted a driver by a Beldih Club member. That’s helped me a lot.”
His attention riveted on the national finals, he said he practised for three hours a day.
“I’m slogging it out under my coach Md Kalam. I am confident about myself. And hard work helps,” Sharif added.
The boy who dreams of making it big as a pro also has a favourite course.
“It’s the one in Golmuri. The grass and the fairways are too good. I love sweating it out there,” he said.
Are sportspersons from poor homes more driven to succeed?