The Telegraph
Thursday , November 29 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
CIMA Gallary

Tee-off for champs & cheers
- A quirky look at the golf grand slam at Royal

The McLeod Russel Tour Championship (Nov 28-Dec 1) is the biggest golf show to come to town in years, with 63 pros vying for Rs 1.25 crore prize money at RCGC. Brandon tees off, only for Metro...

Fair weather

Like I always say, god is a golfer! Day One saw near-perfect weather and adding to the whole feel was the look of the club. “Where the heck are we?” one golfer was overheard telling his partner. The premises were unrecognisable with a huge marquee dressed up in the McLeod Russel colours, green-and-white, on the RCGC lawns. A special 40-seater Royal Box has been set up. For bites, a lavish spread was laid out for breakfast and lunch. And they also have high tea covered. The menu on Day One? Bengali!

All in good time

If there’s one thing the organisers don’t have to worry about when dealing with pros, it’s tee-off time. All of them were spot on time after a good warm-up and the first tee-off was at 7.30am sharp. What a relief not to be in panic mode and having to juggle schedules!

The cheerleaders

Forget the babes in mini-skirts, we were just happy to see club members landing up to watch the pros! No comparison to the Pro-Am on Tuesday, which was simply amazing with hundreds cheering on their families and friends, or to catch the five big boys in action — Jyoti Randhawa, Anirban Lahiri, S.S.P. Chowrasia, Rahil Gangjee and Digvijay Singh. But kudos to those who came, even if to sip on whisky at 11am in the pre-winter sun! With around 4,000 club members, we expect around 800 on Saturday, the final day.

The two most concerned spectators were the father of Divyanshu Bajaj, who walked every hole, and former model and designer Lata Singh, mother to pro Ranjit Singh, who also walked the 18 holes “hoping to bring more luck!”. Asked about her son’s strengths, she said, “Physical fitness, resilience and optimism” but like a true mother, picked only one weakness, “he gets too intense”.

Life is a gamble

Should there be a book on golf gambling? “Of course!” chorused a group at one of the tables in the Shamiana. “Golf gambling should be legalised. If horse-racing can be legal gambling, why can’t golf,” they grinned. Pssst: We aren’t telling you who was backed the most!

A field day

It was a good day in office… on the greens! “A pro tour like this one with India’s top players is something you’d like to miss office for!” said RCGC member Ajoy Rathod, who walked the course to watch the big boys before returning to the Shamiana to cool off.

“It’s not the 18 holes that the wives worry about but the tales over tipple that are spilt at the 19th hole, also known as the Shamiana!” added amateur Devanand Kurup, down from Dubai.

Everyone’s a pro

There are two things about golfers that you should know. One, how as soon as you feel you’re a better golfer than the other guy, you become a qualified instructor. Second, as soon as you go out to watch someone play, you have an opinion on how he could have played it better!

Case in point? “Rashid Khan was playing on the third hole and he hit a difficult shot. There were at least 60 people watching him play and each had an opinion on how he could have hit it for better or worse! It’s like you would hear fans at Eden Gardens: ‘Jodi Sachin erom na kore, orom korto!” laughed Kaushik Chatterjee, an RCGC member for around 20 years.

Shot of the day

Off-course, the shot of the day was PGTI’s president Gautam Thapar and his board with the title sponsor Aditya Khaitan of McLeod Russel, in the Royal Box. Also in the spotlight was the grand old man, B.M. Khaitan. “I’d love to see an international event at the RCGC. We’re not allowed more than five-six international events a year. We’ve already got five so there’s place for one more and we’re hoping someone steps up to take that spot,” said Gautam, a Rory Mcllroy fan.

The leaders

Mukesh Kumar, who seems to never tire of winning, finished as overnight leader at 4-under, followed at 3-under Zamal Hossain Mollah from Bangladesh, Manav Jaini and Rashid Khan.