Talented teen looks to putt her way to the top

Talented teen looks to putt her way to the top

Gurbani Singh

Talented teen looks to putt her way to the top

Promising teenager Gurbani Singh’s tryst with golf started like any affluent Delhi kid’s baptism to the game, the only difference between her and others being her genuine natural talent and matching hard work.

All of six and accompanying her parents to the prestigious Delhi Golf Club where her real-estate businessman father was a member, she just picked up a club for fun not without realising it could play a major role in shaping up her life.

“I couldn’t even swing the club as it was too big for me,” said the now 17-year-old, the reigning All India Amateur Champion and last season’s Order of Merit winner.

“It was just one of those visits along with my dad who wanted to play a round of golf. I too wanted to hit a few balls and tried putting with the other kids around in the range.

“Soon, my parents enrolled me into the coaching programmes at DGC and I just started falling in love with the game. Living just next door to the famous club kind of helped me as I didn’t have to travel too much and I could play almost everyday after school.”

Initially, Gurbani chose to play tournaments only in and around Delhi. Realising that only regular competitive golf will help her improve her game, she decided to start playing in most of the events on the calendar from 2008.

Possessing a very compact game, the shy Gurbani announced her arrival when she scored a stunning victory in the All India Amateur Championship (Matchplay) -- the biggest event in the IGU calendar for amateurs and juniors -- at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club in 2009.

“That win was very special for me,” said the soft-spoken teenager. “It gave me the belief and confidence. I never expected to win it, considering I was just 13 and there was stiff competition from some seasoned girls. I just took off from there, although I’ve never set any major goals. My only goal was to try and win every event that I took part in.”

A regular on the circuit since that brilliant victory, Gurbani’s career has been blossoming quite well. Although she was overshadowed by her fellow DGC lass Gauri Monga in 2010 and an equally-talented Aditi Ashok of Bangalore in 2011, the tenacious girl enjoyed a brilliant 2012, proving that she definitely is one of the potential stars to watch out for.

After finishing runner-up to Aditi in the season-opening Delhi Ladies Championship, the youngster turned up the heat in style, annexing three more titles before capping a wonderful year by successfully regaining the All India Amateur Championship at the Tollygunge Golf Club.

Gurbani has started the current year with a bang, triumphing in the opening two events and ending runner-up in the third event this week at the Karnataka Golf Association.

 When asked if the exploits of Aditi – three years her junior – in 2011 stoked the fire inside her, Gurbani felt rivalries are what makes one better. “To win you have to be better than your opponent. And to defeat your opponent, you have to work hard and keep improving. That’s what I did.

“I’m feeling a lot more confident about my game now. It’s just getting your basics right and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’ve started well this year and the goal is to maintain my form and my rankings. The competition is good and I’m relishing it,” added Gurbani.

Despite the current success and she reaching the eligible age to compete in the more competitive professional tour in October this year, Gurbani plans to migrate to the United States for higher studies and try her hand at college golf there.

“I have no plans of turning pro now. I’ll be finishing my 12th this year and I intend to study and play in the United States. That will happen only in mid-2014 however and until then I’ll play on the amateur circuit. I’ll see how the US sojourn takes shape and then take my call,” said a confident Gurbani.

While the US may be the favoured destination for most aspiring golfers, one just hopes Gurbani is able to blend education and golf perfectly there like she has done it locally so far.