The Telegraph
Saturday , August 13 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Golfers & greens feel the blues

The greens are flooded and the golfers are feeling the blues.

It has been three days since the last tee off at The Royal because of the incessant rain. “Every day, starting 4.40am, I have been receiving calls and with a heavy heart I tell the golfers that the course is closed,” says M.M. Singh, the CEO of Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC).

At Tollygunge Club, the greens are open but few are braving the wet week. “Only the ‘hard golfers’ are showing up,” says Gaurav Pundir, the golf superintendent.

Golfers — veteran to newbie — are now clueless what to do with their mornings. “We get up at 4.30am and the first thing we do is glance out of the window. With the sky refusing to clear this week, we go back to bed but don’t get sleep,” says Pratick Sen, 70, a Royal addict.

Dipak Banerjee, 73, made the most of a frustrating Friday. “I wore my walking shoes, brandished an umbrella and took a walk around the greens till the 3rd Shamiana.... We’re all just itching to go out,” says the RCGC member since 1978.

Even a novice like Sachin Varma, who started putting and chipping three months ago, is missing his morning date with the fairway. “The feeling is similar to when you start falling in love and then are denied a date for a week!” says the dermatologist, who tees off thrice a week and has even made golf a “family affair” by enrolling his wife and son in coaching classes.

Golf widows, though, are struggling to deal with grumpy husbands at home. “He’s miserable,” says Meena Banerjee, 71, Dipak’s wife. “He’s up by 4.30am and doesn’t know what to do.”

Divorced from golf, Pratick Sen has learnt to make himself some morning tee, er, tea. “My wife isn’t up before 9am so I have to make my own tea. I miss the greens, the smell of the soil, chirping of the birds — and a cup of tea at the Shamiana!”

Rohan Shroff, 18, has an eye on the sky for a very different reason. “I usually play between 2.30pm and 6.30pm but now that the course is closed, my mom wants me to stay home and study! I can’t wait for the course to open,” says the BCom student of St. Xavier’s College, who made do with putting practise instead of a game on the greens on Friday.

If the golfers are feeling blue, spare a thought for the greens. “The soil has three things — the soil particles, air and water. A mis-balance of air and water causes roots and, ultimately, leaves to die,” says Jason Chennault, the course superintendent at Royal.

Then there are the fungus-causing diseases the monsoon months bring. “The leaves can’t breathe because the algae closes the pores. A fungus attacks either the roots or the leaf shoots, so we have to watch both. We have had root-attacking pathogen in the past few years,” adds Chennault.

Which is also why the course has been kept shut. “As it is the grass is under stress, and then people walk over it. On an average, 100 to 120 golfers play every weekday morning, plus the caddies,” points out M.M. Singh.

At Tolly, the drainage system makes things a bit better but golfers are still staying away. “Your club keeps slipping, your feet skid and you’re out of balance. And walking in the slush and mud is really tiring,” says Rupinder Singh, a regular on the club greens.

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