18-years-old and only the second Indian winner on the Ladies European Tour, Diksha Dagar ranks second on rookie of the year honours on the LET tour. She was recently in India for the Hero WPGT Leg 13 at DLF Golf and Country Club, giving us just enough time to catch up with the golf star who will be playing at the Hero Women’s Indian Open, for the first time as a professional. She discusses her professional journey in Australia and Europe, her schedule, equipment and ambitions.
“Like everyone else, I am looking forward to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”
GDI: How are you feeling about coming back to India, after having played all over Europe? Can you tell us how you have spent the last few months?
Diksha: This is my rookie year as a pro on LET, LETAS, ALPGA, and WGAI, so it’s been a handful — of tournaments in different parts of the world! Amateur and pro golf are so different in so many different ways. Though I take each tournament seriously, my main emphasis for a couple of years will be on learning and gaining experience. I plan on finding a feel for things such as different golf courses, weather conditions, and regions. Hence my aggressive approach towards participation.
It’s almost three to four times more international tournament participation. Starting July-end till the first week of October, I am playing 10 out of 12 weeks in different countries. Coming back home after longish travel is always good. I am trying different equipment and shafts to improve my consistency and distance in between tournaments, which may be a reason for not-so-good outings. I plan to take this in my stride for my rookie year.
Participation in the LPGA and Majors has given me wonderful opportunities to play with the best in the world.
GDI: Last year you played as an amateur at the Women’s Indian Open and this year you enter the field as a full cardholder on LET, can you share your feelings on this? Who have been the highly ranked players you have had a chance to play with?
Women’s Indian Open is special, being at home. It’s very popular amongst the LET players because of hospitality, food, and lively people —and the DLF Golf and Country Club hosting makes it even more interesting! I am excited about being in the field as a pro for the first time, after being here thrice as an amateur.
With each passing year, the chances of an Indian winner are increasing. I have played with some of the top players, especially in the 4 LPGA events I have participated in —Leona Maguire (World No.1 for consecutive 3 years), Bronte Law (LPGA winner), Jennifer Kupcho (2nd at Evian Championship), and many more.
GDI: Tell us about your Australian golf journey. Which has been your favourite course/tournament so far this year?
Diksha: The decision to go to Australia was a masterstroke for me as it set the ball rolling and a lot of good things happened there. I had gone there with a purpose, and at the cost of my Class 12 (board) exams. My level of mental and physical preparedness was good, and it paid off.
a) At the ALPG – Took good care to look after the players with lots of host housing opportunities
b) For me, Deaf Golf Australia came forward with all possible support in a big way
c) A few of my father’s old friends were there to support us.
d) Mo Lee Quinn, Golf Technician got in touch, and looked after the issues with my clubs.
e) I had the best hosts at Ballarat, Moss Vale, Canberra, Queensland, Queenbeyan and Greenlong, David Mag.
GDI: In all of this — your travel, your tournaments, and routine, what changes do you feel have occurred in and around you? What is the major learning for your game from this year?
Diksha: Lots of tournaments, lots of equipment changes, lots of travel. It’s been an aggressive approach to the year. It’s essential to hit long and putt well to be a top player. Physical fitness is crucial to overcome jetlag and varying weather conditions.
GDI: What goals have you set for yourself for this year and ahead? What do you need to achieve to lock in the ‘Rookie of the Year’ title on the LET? How close are your competitors?
Diksha: Like everyone else, I am looking forward to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. I am running 2nd in the Rookie of the Year on LET. Esther from Germany has had a great season and is likely to top the LET OOM. I need at least one win or more to have a chance.
GDI: Who do you like more — Diksha Dagar the amateur, or the pro that you have become? Recently you said that you want to gain distance to compete with LPGA players — how are you going about that?
Diksha: Life is more exciting as a pro for sure but one has to prepare well and have a support system. I am lucky to have a supportive family.
Coming to my distance gaining road – I believe fitness and shaft are the two keys; Lee Quinn and Sandeep Varma are helping me with both.
GDI: Have you made any equipment changes? Why? Are they helping?
Diksha: I have gone through a lot of equipment changes in recent times. I believe change is the only constant in life and golf. Most of my clubs are Callaway-made but am still experimenting with the shafts.
GDI: How do you work on your physical fitness to prevent injuries?
Diksha: I exercise regularly, and plan on taking professional help after the Women’s Indian Open.
GDI: Being an inspiration to a whole new upcoming generation of golfers, what would you like to share with young girls?
Diksha: India is a huge country where men’s golf is quite good but there are fewer girls on the course. Because of this, the chances of success for girls are actually better. A good foundation and all-round fitness are the key factors, which are often neglected by Indian girls. Indulging in outdoor sports helps a lot.