Avani striking it rich on the fairways and greens

Avani striking it rich on the fairways and greens

Most three-year-old girls ask their fathers for dolls or toys to keep themselves busy. Budding city golfer Avani Prashanth was different. She asked for golf clubs.

"I wanted my father to play golf but it is my daughter who ended up taking the sport!" gushed M S Prashanth, Avani's dad. "I didn't want my senior citizen dad to get bored at home. So I desperately wanted him to play golf. While driving him to Eagleton Golf Resort, Avani, who was just three years old then, said she too wanted to play golf.

"Initially I laughed it off. You know, kids want to try their hands at everything we adults do. But Avani insisted I buy her a club set so that she can play. I kept refusing but my father advised me to buy her a club set. After much reluctance I did and there has been no turning back since," added Prashanth, who works with Diageo.

Despite being just a kindergarten kid, Avani took to golf with full seriousness. Upon seeing her genuine love for the sport and the natural talent she possessed, Prashanth enrolled her at Eagleton's academy.

There, under the watchful eyes of Abdul Rahim Kareem, an IGU B certified coach, she started learning the nuances of the sport. At the age of 7 she started competing in events -- in India and abroad -- and has been making good strides since then.

Since 2014, the 12-year-old Avani has competed in six US Kids Golf World Championship and has achieved a top-5 finish in all of them. She normally plays only the South Zone legs in the IGU calendar -- because her dad believes practising at home is better than constant travelling -- and has been a consistent performer in all of them. She has now started to take part in events up north this season and has triumphed twice this season in Category C.

"Something inside me just attracted me to golf. I don't know what. Golf is my life and I really want to excel in it. My favourite player is Lexi Thompson. She has been breaking barriers in women's golf and I draw plenty of inspiration from her. I too want to keep pushing the boundaries," said Avani, who is a keen footballer and even captains the Greenwood High International School junior team.

In a bid to enhance her golfing skills, the sixth standard student has changed her coach and academy. She's now tutored by Laurence Brotheridge, a coach from the renowned David Leadbetter Academy, at Oxford Golf Course, Pune.

"Avani consults Laurence once a month and then hones her skills at Bengaluru. I travel with her and pick up all the notes. Avani is very dedicated and makes my job as a dad very easy," says Prashanth.