Budding golfers teeing off to greener pastures

It was a typical January morning, cold and draped in fog, but the little golfers’ enthusiasm warmed the hearts of those gathered to watch them in action. The contours of Unitech Golf and country Club, Noida were traversed by their confident strides and talent during the Kapil Dev under-14 invitational tournament.

In the past, many cricketers have exchanged the willow with a golf club once the curtains fell over their illustrious careers. Be it former cricketer-turned-television commentator Dean Jones or the greats like Gary Sobers, Allan Border, Richie Benaud, golf has held an unmistakable allure for them.

Kapil probably is the most famous Indian cricketer to have succumbed to the charm of golf. His love for the sport speaks through his efforts to help the budding golfers.
On Saturday , he watched over the young participants with the indulgence and compassion of a parent. “It is so cold and the young ones are here to play golf so early in the morning. I can’t help but feel for them. But all of them are so talented. They play as good as seniors sometimes,” he gushed.

The tinkle on his cell abruptly halted the conversation. One of the participants had shot “a hole in one” and Kapil, 55, nearly jumped in excitement. In golf, ‘hole in one’ is when a player hits from the tee to the cup in one shot. “We never considered this possibility! We have to reward this boy, I will gift him a trophy later,” said Kapil, who led India to its maiden World Cup victory in 1983.

The young golfer was a diminutive and bespectacled nine-year-old Akshat Sharma who studies in Billabong High International School in Noida. His composure belied his achievement. His face, though, broke into a wide grin when Kapil shook hands with him to congratulate.

The event witnessed participation of 25 boys and girls, picked from nearby schools on the basis of their performance. “This was just a small level tournament to get an idea about what goes into organising a golf tournament. I have plans to launch an all India-level event for the children,” Kapil said.

The event threw no prizes for the winners. But there were goody bags for all the golfers, who merrily discussed their performance with eager parents and coaches over refreshments. Their excursion over the nine-hole course was a morning well-spent and perhaps the first step towards an eventful journey.

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