Recently, The New York Times carried an article on ‘The heartache of being sidelined from your favourite sport’, a topic that is bound to strike a chord with sportspersons and sports minded people alike, everywhere in the world. Rafael Nadal pops to one’s mind readily, but there are so many lesser-known sportspersons we have empathised with.
Once you play a sport at a competitive level – not just at the national level, but even representing your district, league or university – it is very hard to be benched; it is very hard to play the sport that you once excelled in at a poorer level and the only option is to move to another sport to satisfy that adrenaline rush in you for competition.
All’s eclectic: Golf is one sport that welcomes all with open arms, which is why you will find a number of hockey, cricket, badminton, tennis and table tennis players taking on the course, no matter what stage in life. “Golf was my saviour,” says realtor Rampramukh Reddy, who was part of the Bangalore University cricket team, playing alongside Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and others. “After cricket, I thought there was nothing more to do, and I used to feel low. However, an old caddy cornered me at the Travancore Pavilion and coaxed me to try golf, saying I had the shoulders for it. I was sceptical, but once I put my head down, everything felt better. Now, I cannot stay away from the golf course,” he says with a chuckle.
His passion for the game is demonstrated by him recording 100 rounds in 60 days – in peak Chennai summer – including two rounds in a day. He is on a winning streak currently, following his victory at the recently held Allsec eclectic tournament with a second-spot finish at the Monthly Medal round hosted at the Cosmo TNGF. “I have also made many friends here,” Rampramukh adds.
Friends Tournament: Finally, it is the camaraderie on the course that brings in people from all walks to the game. World over, golfers have stories to tell, on such bonding. Like the eternal classic sitcom Friends, golfers stick with each other for decades, regardless of time and distance.
In Chennai, this was exemplified by the inaugural edition of the Friends Tournament at the Cosmo TNGF, sponsored by a group of golfers known to all in the South golfing circles as the Friends Group. Making an appearance in true spirit of friendship was Janani, an ex-cricketer living in Kodaikanal. Janani, a true multi-dimensional person (she runs rescue shelters for animals, and birds), was greeted by every other golfer during the tourney, pressing her to extend her stay for a game of friendlies. She smiled, swung easy and long, but stray dogs wanted a rub from her; all of us spotted a baby wren. Only she noticed that it had a broken leg, crouched down, ‘spoke’ to it and made friends with it.
Wise owls: The TNGF course is home to a variety of birds. The golfing season has changed for the better. Tournament or not, birdies and eagles are becoming commonplace, noticeably. Interestingly, another matter of interest for all golfers is the family of owls nesting in the bole of a huge tree spreading its branches over the 8th tee. Probably the most photographed owl family, they have presided over many stirring performances.
Friendships do not interfere with fierce competition among the players, who aim to tame the course. Passions run high, discussions spill over into the refreshment hut after nine holes, and strokes played are revisited and counted again, to make a point, but when everyone gathers to settle, all is forgotten.