Teeing ground: Koreans day out at MGC Golf Annexe reinvents funday

Hundreds of Koreans gathered around, bumping fists with one another, before queuing up at the registration counter for the one-day Chennai Korean Golf Tournament that was organised by the Korean Association in Chennai.
Korean lady golfers who participated in the tournament
Korean lady golfers who participated in the tournament

CHENNAI: On Saturday last, the players deck at the Madras Gymkhana Club sported both a carnival and competition look.

Hundreds of Koreans gathered around, bumping fists with one another, before queuing up at the registration counter for the one-day Chennai Korean Golf Tournament that was organised by the Korean Association in Chennai.

Chennai Korean Golf Tournament
Chennai Korean Golf Tournament

Korean lady golfers, as always, made a statement with their golf attire and accessories. Greetings of “annyeonghaseyo” and polite bows apart, quite a few of them smiled at me, and said, “Eppadi irukeenga? Konjam Tamil theriyum (How are you doing? I know a little bit of Tamil).”

Daily golfers

The presence of Koreans in Chennai does not come as a surprise anymore, not least because of their cars; or their restaurants which are popular joints among the gourmands. Their passion for golf in Chennai, however, is not as widely known.

Typically, their love for golf is attributed to the commanding presence of the Asian Korean golfers, both men and women, in top professional golf circuits.

Their success has had a cascading effect and of the 4,500 Koreans in Chennai, at least a thousand play golf, says Jo Sang Hyun, President, Korean Association in Chennai.

“I have been playing golf for 27 years, and 24 of them have been in Chennai,” he notes. “As COVID-19 loomed large, we could not play the sport for two years, so we decided to hire the MGC Golf Annexe for a round of fun golf,” he adds.

Having played with a few Koreans, I can vouch for two types of golfers: one is the very serious, focused golfer who putts out even if it is a given; the other is the social golfer, who loves the sport, the fresh air, the camaraderie.

This tournament was primarily to socialise and have a good time. “Golf is a great outdoor event for us. The Chennai Korean Golf Tournament is to boost our morale and also to raise funds for our social projects in the city,” says Hyun chattily, standing at the Club gate, waiting to personally greet each golfer.

A total of 107 players, including 24 women, took part in the heavily sponsored tournament held in the Stableford format. Apart from an attractive range of giveaways and prizes, there was a wooden spoon, for the last placed.

The festive mood was augmented by plenty of food – both Korean and everyone’s favourite, dosas and other local delicacies. Korean Consul General Kyon Youngseup was among those who teed off with plenty of enthusiasm.

Korean Consul addressing the gathering post tournament
Korean Consul addressing the gathering post tournament

“The weather is really nice and it is great to be able to meet everyone together and have a fun tournament like this. Next year is the 50th year of the Korea-India partnership and I know that many programmes are being planned in Chennai,” he says.

Hyundai’s tryst with Chennai

Interestingly, when Korea decided to set shop in India, a half-dozen Korean delegates were made to live four months in various cities, such as Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Pune, and Chennai before the business deal was inked.

The delegates had to absorb what each city offered and how best it would sync with other Koreans who would be living there as expatriates. In Chennai, what clinched the deal was their time at the golf course.

Many MGC golfers embraced the Koreans, invited them to play as their guests and showed them around, invited them for their festivities, etc.

They spent every weekend on the golf course in Chennai and were blown away by the warmth of the players, decided to set up Hyundai here. The rest, as they say, is history.

(The writer is the Lady Captain at Cosmo TNGF)

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