Indian golf history was rewritten last week with Indians earning a total of over US$ 300,000 or Rs 2.4 crores in winnings around the world. Anirban Lahiri and Aditi Ashok both finished 3rd on the PGA & LPGA Tours respectively – a first ever ! In Europe, we had two girls in the top 5 for the first time ever – Tvesa Malik and Diksha Dagar finishing 2nd and 4th respectively. Overall perhaps one of the most successful weeks in Indian golf history !
However, the reality we face with the game in India hit me hard when Aditi’s team mate, Pajaree from Thailand, ranked 115 in the world sat with Aditi, ranked 186 in a press conference. Aditi had no sponsor logos on her clothing whatsoever while Pajaree was plastered with logos all over her shirt and cap even though among the Thai girls she isn’t ranked among the top 5 or maybe even the top 10 players. It shows that Indian golfers don’t enjoy high enough popularity as sports heroes in India despite their doing their country so proud. Golf is still understood and followed by too few people in India and brands don’t see enough value in being associated with our world class golfers. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in the coming decade. The lack of sponsorship income puts our players under a lot of pressure as playing the tours around the world is an expensive proposition – at least US$2000 – 3000 per week. A strategy needs to be built to change the perception and profile of golf and our champion golfers in the Indian market.