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Spare a thought for golf widows

Brandon de Souza of Tiger Sports Marketing pens a diary for Metro on the McLeod Russel Tour Championship at Royal Calcutta Golf Club

Golf has been considered a ‘mistress’ by many wives who suffer the loneliness of being away from a golfing husband, especially if he is a professional golfer who travels for about 30-35 weeks across the world.

While she is dating or engaged, she is seen bringing out her sun chair with an umbrella attached with her favourite magazine and some sunscreen to watch her beloved ironing out his mistakes at the driving range or walk with him through his round and then console him after he missed out on three birdies from two feet or complimenting his brilliant iron-play over a round of coffee at the club house.

The marriage and the arrival of kids (non-golfing season) cuts down her visits to the golf club and it is then that the wife feels really let down. Such wives nicknamed as ‘golf widows’ are finding a way out to strike a balance between personal and professional lives and are spending time with their spouses.

It is no different on any tour and one constantly hears how well-known pros are rushing back to be at their wives’ side as they are about to give birth to their first/second/third born. What is not reported is how many birthdays and anniversaries or family get-togethers are missed. From the media perspective when a star like Phil Mickelson took a sabbatical when his wife was ill, it rightfully made news or when the Tiger Woods story broke we were all fed with the gory details, but we do need to spare a thought for the huge sacrifices made by our top sportsmen of different fields while they entertain us with their on-field heroics.

Going with my own experience and having been on tour for 14 years, after having Nandita come into my life, one can speak with authority, it all started like an extended honeymoon. We thought we had cracked the way to ensure that we were together by having her caddie for me but after she was almost blown off by gusty winds at the golf course in Melbourne and almost got sunstroke in Malaysia, we found it was getting hard to even stay cordial when the round wasn’t going well. Her main grouse was that why couldn’t I just choose the right club instead of having her lug the whole golf bag when I missed the fairway.

She made a better supporter and spectator as using her good looks and PR, she ensured I got prime space in the papers and clearly, our most memorable year would be 1988 when I won six times on the tour. The low was when one had a few bad weeks on the trot and remember in a golfer’s life the most important day is Friday when the cut takes place, which is called “Thank God it’s Friday” and there is nothing like Saturday Night Fever in our lives since sleep takes top priority to be set for the final day, Sunday, which is also pay day.

Good thing she stopped caddying when the kids came along and she went back to her first love being a travel professional. We have stayed together and proudly celebrated our silver anniversary this year!!!!!

The McLeod Russel Tour Championship which is currently on at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club has seen only a few wives accompanying their husbands who are either playing or are a part of the management think-tank. “I really miss him when he is out. However, there are other things and friends to catch up on while he is away. And whenever there is an opportunity, I tag along for the event so that we can spend some time together. And while he is at work, I go around the city and do some shopping,” said Mona, wife of Uttam Singh Mundy, the director at PGTI who is away from home for most part of the year.

“With my kid around, I really can’t take the time out to travel with him. However, when I was seeing him, I would travel with him most of the time. I did try to caddy for him but found it too cumbersome,” says Priyanka Daftary Dawar, wife of Naman, who has given Calcutta a skip this time around.

There are others like Simantini, wife of former Indian Masters winner Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia who was found walking the course. “With Shiv playing most of the events abroad, it is not possible for me to travel with him. So I make the most of it when he is playing in Calcutta. While he is away, I spend my time with my folks and keep track of his performance on the Net,” says Simantini.“I feel guilty for not giving much time to the family. However, with the domestic issues in place, we can concentrate on our game. My wife is an angel and understands me completely,” said Chiragh Kumar, one of the leading players. Namrata Kumar is busy with her own bag label, which supplies to all of India and is quite happy joining him for six to eight weeks a year. These golfers travel for 20-25 weeks!

Rahil Gangjee who has not started a family has the luxury of having Maithreyi by his side for almost all the weeks he is on tour. Having been into visual retail merchandising, she chose marriage over career and quit her job six months into the marriage. The best time, she says is dinnertime on tour, where she clearly is the boss and makes all the calls including hunting down eateries to dine out, as she is a self-confessed foodie!

The field is usually 126 players and if you allow for more than 50 per cent being married and only a handful being able to take their wives with them, then it puts the whole sacrifice angle into true perspective. Cheers!!!! to the bachelors who I am sure are single and happy to mingle in the different cities they play in each year but a word of caution, stay in touch with the girls you meet, else expect a very cold reception regardless of the timing when you go back to that city….