7 Dec 2021:The year 2021 will be a historic memory of what India’s Y and Z generations of female golfers achieved.
2021 witnessed a new wave of Gen Y and Z golfers don the mantle of India’s golfing scene.
The story of the rise of female golfersin India began in the summer of 2007, when an offer to stage a Ladies European Tour event in India was made to the Secretary General of the Women’s Golf Association; Golf at the Olympics was still a distant dream then.
Sometime in the middle of June 2007, standing on Delhi Golf Club’s famous pub terrace in blazing heat, I wondered if it could be an idea which could be taken forward. Just a handful of professional women golfers, a few exemptions and a little sanction fee, would this be enough to support the Association’s administration for a few months ? Accepting the offer was indeed a courageous decision.
By November of 2007, the Women’s Golf Association of India was well on its way to partnering the first ever Ladies European Tour event on Indian soil, at the Eagleton Golf Resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru city in South India. The dates fixed were in the first week of December. The WGAI administration strength during that time waslimited to three persons.
Mumbai basedArjuna awardeeAnjani Desai, who attended this historic event, was overjoyed as she posed with great pride nextto the trophy, a replica of the iconic Bahai Temple. An important phase of women’s golf in Indiahad just begun !
At that time, although professional golf for females was in its nascent stages, WGAI was able to negotiate with the Ladies European Tour for 12 exemptions, and one exemption spot for the Dubai Ladies Masters as well.A handsome sum of Rupees Eight lakhs was paid by the LET as WGAI’s share of the sanction fee.
Since then, there has been no looking back ! Seventeen years on, women’s golf hasindeed come a long way, our players taking small strides every year. 2021, however, has been an exemplary year for Indian women golfers. Two Indian players, Aditi Ashok and Diksha Dagar, both of whom represent Gen Y, made it to the Olympics top 60 rankings.
The performance by Aditi Ashokin the Tokyo Olympics highlighted what no Indian golfer has achieved in the past century of the game’s presence in the country. The two timeOlympian had India awake during the early hours of August 7th,2021 to watch and understand what it takes to represent the country at the Olympics. Striking form at the right time and with a world ranking of 200, Aditi outshoneother famous names who dominate professional golf. Her impressive performance was a red-letter day for Indian women’s golf. Diksha Dagar, who managed to qualify at the 60th spot, did well to finish at the 50thposition.
Playing her second LET season,India’s Tvesa Malik, who was a reserve on the Olympic list, had a very commendable seasonin 2021 on the LET. Tvesa, another gutsy Gen Y player, finished 27th on the LET Order of Merit, earning close to eighty thousand Euros. She has developed a superior temperament playing alongside leading players from both the LETand LPGA, and has secured her LET Tour Card for 2022. In yet another all-time high, a total of twelve Indian players are currently at LET’s Q-School in Spain, vying for the 2022 Tour card.
Back home, on the domestic Hero Women’s Professional Golf Tour, Hitaashee Bakshi established a course record of 65 at Hyderabad’s Boulder Hills Golf & Country Club.
Amateur Avani Prashanth, thepromising 15 year old Gen Z Bengalurean,emerged winner in a couple of professional events in 2021,and also bagged the prestigious Billoo Sethi Trophy, a 36 holes stroke play tournament as well as the All India Ladies matchplay title in late November. Avani’s ball striking ability underscores her potential to be the premier player in Indian women’s golf GenZ.
During the last week of November, there were multiple ladies golf tournaments being played in India simultaneously. 88 ladies participated in the 27th Punjab Ladies Amateur Open Golf Championship in Chandigarh, 50 at the Ladies All India at Noida Golf Club, 24 professionals at Hyderabad and more players who are based overseas. Several Gen Y and Z girls including AnikaVarmamade their mark at the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific event at Abu Dhabi in early November 2021.
There is a great future for our Indian women golfers with the ever-increasing pool of players. The surge of Gen Y and Z golfers are being well groomed to keep the Indian tri- colour flying high.
Champika N Sayal
7th December 2021
Ridhima Dilawari receiving winner's award from Mr. Sanjeev Mehra, Sr. Member-KGA