When Nissan and R Ashwin catalysed Chennai golfers

“How was your game today? Do you think you could have done things differently?” he asked with a cheeky grin, adding, “This is what we are asked as soon as we finish a match.”
(from left) Captain Keerthi Prakash, Renault Nissan Automobile India Pvt Ltd, Rakesh Srivastava, MD, Nissan Motor India Pvt Ltd, MGC Golf Captain PS Jagdish, cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin and Rajesh Srivastava, Head of marketing communications, Nissan Motor India Pvt Ltd
(from left) Captain Keerthi Prakash, Renault Nissan Automobile India Pvt Ltd, Rakesh Srivastava, MD, Nissan Motor India Pvt Ltd, MGC Golf Captain PS Jagdish, cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin and Rajesh Srivastava, Head of marketing communications, Nissan Motor India Pvt Ltd

CHENNAI: How many knew cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin had a good sense of humour? On the last Sunday afternoon, when over a hundred golfers trooped into the refreshment area at the Madras Gymkhana Club Golf Annexe (MGC) after having been out on the golf course for over four hours, he had a question for the best player. “How was your game today? Do you think you could have done things differently?” he asked with a cheeky grin, adding, “This is what we are asked as soon as we finish a match.”

Everyone burst out laughing, tiredness forgotten.

Prizes aplenty

The players had contested in the Chennai leg of the ‘Nissan Move Beyond’ golf tournament. Every golfer walked up to the centre of attraction for a brag selfie – oh no, not Ashwin, that happened much later. It was the Nissan Range of yet to be launched premium SUVs that was the draw for all. Also up for grabs was a Magnite for any golfer who had a hole in one. Quite a number of golfers landed on the green with their first shot on the designated hole No.6, but sadly, none aced it.

However, there were prizes in each of the three handicap categories, not to mention the longest drive, closest to the pin and the Nissan Powerful and Accurate Drive award. The last one called for precise, powerful drive between two parallel lines.

The longest drive saw the tee shot of quite a few men – and a lady golfer’s as well – being measured and recorded, which in itself is something to be proud of. But, since the tournament was being hosted in the Stableford format (three quarters for scoring purposes), the serious contenders focused on the larger picture.

Chennai, so cool!

Golfers do not need an incentive to hit the MGC course on a Sunday in January. The weather is just perfect. However, it was a particularly balmy day and the players did not mind being out in their plus fours from morning till afternoon. The course, which had become a tad unkempt, had been worked on and tamed. With the morning sun being kinder, everyone got down to the serious business of competing against the course. The wind picked up during the game, adding an element of intrigue.

Grass is greener

It always comes down to putting. As someone who is excellent at judging another person’s putt – the minute a player completes a putt, I can say with accuracy if it will hole out or not – but a clumsy three-putter when it comes down to my own game, it was easy for me to blame the greens as not being consistently true, a hallowed MGC tradition. Not that it got in the way of winners posting good scores.

Ashwin’s kutti story

Post the prize distribution, Ashwin headed to the practice range, catching many by surprise, although that is what good golfers do – after a round, many of them head to the range to putt or chip a few balls. I asked him if he plans to do a Kapil Dev and pick up golf later on, post cricket. He laughed and said as a youngster, he started off on tennis, before straying into cricket and loving it.

He does have golf stories in his kitty though. “I know a number of cricketers play golf. In fact, Glenn Maxwell took me to a golf club in Abu Dhabi and we went to the range. Believe me, I could not connect a single ball. I must have hit a dozen balls and missed every single one of them,” he said. The MGC Golf Captain PS Jagdish chuckled about hitting a stationary ball being tougher than hitting a moving one. Ashwin was already wondering aloud how to get permission from ‘home’ for a round of golf (four hours minimum).

It is easy, mate. Get the lady to play golf.

(The writer is the Lady Captain at Cosmo TNGF)

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