Striking it sweet at 16

Striking it sweet at 16


From winning her maiden pro title as a 14-year-old in 2018 to doubling that tally this month, Mysuru’s Pranavi Urs has been making heads turn on the women’s circuit. DH PHOTO/ SAVITHA BR

The Hero Women’s Pro League Season 2020 has just started and a precocious Pranavi Urs is already making heads turn. After courting a final-hole disaster in the opening leg at Pune in early January that saw the title slip out of her hands, the gifted 16-year-old showed her mettle by annexing the second leg in Mumbai last week. There were no signs of the triple-bogey meltdown she suffered at Poona Golf Course as the Mysuru girl dished out two tenacious rounds of golf to pocket her second professional title as an amateur.

While a few members of the Bombay Presidency Golf Club were stunned by young Pranavi’s heroics, many in the circuit who have been witnessing the teen from close quarters are not surprised by her fast rise. Just 14 and granted an amateur slot, Pranavi took everyone by storm when she recorded her maiden pro win at the Eagleton Golf Resort in July 2018. More than the win, it was the manner in which she achieved it that had everyone amazed.

Walking into the final hole tied for the lead with Tvesa Malik and Gaurika Bishnoi, Pranavi sealed victory with a jaw-dropping 35-foot birdie. The other two pros, totally in shock at what Pranavi did, could just manage a par and promptly went on to hug the teenager who didn’t know whether to smile or cry after holing a career-changing putt.

“To be honest I had zero expectations going into the tournament but that win changed my perspective,” Pranavi tells DH. “(I was) just 14 and I just wanted to gain some experience by playing in a quality field. But the win changed it all for me. It gave me the confidence that I belong at the pro level. It made me believe that I can compete at a higher level. To hole such an important long putt under pressure just elevates your confidence and self-belief. I didn’t experience success at the pro level last year but I’ve started off on a superb note this season. I’m just looking to carry forward that form,” added Pranavi, who has chosen to turn pro right after her Mumbai win.

Unlike many of her peers, Pranavi, whose parents run an automobile dealership, is an autodidact. She first played the sport during a summer camp at Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Golf Club when she was around six years old. She liked the sport and started to take an active interest in it. With Mysuru not a golf hub like Bengaluru, she learnt the finer nuances of the sport by just watching videos and then replicating them in practice sessions. She did receive some coaching lessons but nothing on a daily basis. It was more on a consultant basis. In fact, that trend continues to this day. She’s signed with the famous Steven Giuliano in Kuala Lumpur, taking virtual lessons largely and then practising it by herself. The only time she interacts with Giuliano in person is during her trips to Kuala Lumpur or when the Australian bumps into her at tournaments.

When asked if she would like to switch to Bengaluru, one of the golfing hotspots in the country with excellent facilities and coaches, the answer is a firm ‘no’ from Pranavi. “Yes, I’m aware if I move to Bengaluru it would be a great career move. I would have access to better coaches, better courses and better practice facilities. But I’m at peace with Mysuru and can train at my own pace. Bengaluru is too crowded and I feel I may get lost in there. In Mysuru, most of the times the course is all mine which is not the case in Bengaluru. Anyways, I interact with Steven on a daily basis and I do what he asks me to. The Mysuru set-up has been working for me and I don’t what to change it.”

Paramjit Singh, a fellow Mysurean and a much respected freelance rules official, had plenty of praise for Pranavi. “Whatever she has achieved is all because of her hard work. I first saw her as a six-year old kid at the coaching camp and looking at the way she would strike the ball, many of us knew she was something special. Like cricket, in golf, too, there is something called sweet spot. The ball flies when you make contact with the sweet spot. She does that with stunning accuracy. She’s climbed up the ladder without much formal coaching. Unlike many kids of her age she’s extremely focussed.”

When asked if she could be next Aditi Ashok, easily India’s brightest golf talent, Paramjit said Pranavi has miles to clock to reach that level. “Aditi is a phenomenal talent. She was a very special kid with an insatiable hunger. Pranavi is still not there. Pranavi in fact has kept Aditi as a benchmark. If Pranavi can maintain her hunger and passion and continues to work hard, she can become another Aditi.”

Pranavi, a 10th grade student of National Institute of Open Schooling, though is relaxed and says she wants to chart her own path. “I know comparisons are inevitable. What she has done is great for women’s golf in the country and I’m inspired by her. But I have my own goals and ambitions. This is my first proper year as a pro and I want to finish the season in the top three. I want to take it step by step. The main goal is to compete at the 2024 Olympics and I have four years to accomplish it.”

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