We are a sport loving nation no doubt. But this love is rather subjective. When it comes to sporting events in our country, it is all about accessibility and popularity. Needless to say, only a handful of sports enjoy such a privilege. The rest are left to their own devices. Therefore, many a great sportsmen and sports have been ignored; yet they have thrived and flourished, under the shadows.
The game of golf is one such underdog. Owing to its exclusivity, the game has not been able to win the affection of the masses. A victim of misconceptions and underestimations, the game does not get its due credit in India. Hence, most of us are ignorant of the great achievements of Indian Golfers who have single-handedly brought India onto the highly competitive and arduous international platforms like the US PGA tour, The European tour and the Asian tour.
You might be surprised at what you read and we hope that their achievements are just the eye-opener that we need; not only to grab your interest but also to give the game of golf the recognition it warrants. So, here’s a list of ladies and gentlemen golfers who have made the country proud, and we happily start our list with the ladies no doubt!
SMRITI “SIMI” MEHRA, Kolkata.
She is the one to revolutionize women’s golf in India; the torch bearer who showed the path of professional golf to Indian women. She is the first Indian woman to become a member of the world’s top most women’s tour – the US, LPGA! Simi has represented India in the World Cup in 2008. Simi was instrumental in founding the WGAI (Women’s Golfing Association of India) and it was her efforts that led to the development of women’s professional golf in India.
Her International achievements include:
- Winner at Hunters Oak Futures Golf Classic, 1996.
- Finished fourth at Australian Ladies Masters, 1998.
- Eleventh at Weetabix Women’s British Open, 1999.
- Winner at Fyres Classic, 2004.
JEEV MILKHA SINGH
Yes, as the name suggests, he is the son of the legendary Milkha Singh. However, the man himself is a legend when it comes to Indian Golf. He joined the European Tour in the year 1998 and happens to be the first Indian golfer to do so. He is also the first Indian golfer to come in the range of top 100 in the official world Golf Ranking in 2006. He is also the only Indian to have been ranked as high as 29th in the official world golf ranking in 2009. For his outstanding achievements and worldwide recognition in the field of golf, the Government of India granted him the Arjuna Award in the year 1999 and Padma Shri in 2007. He has won 4 events in the European tour, 4 in the Japan Golf tour and 6 in the Asian Tour apart from many other victories.
Currently playing; Asian tour.
ARJUN ATWAL, Kolkata.
He is the pace setter for every golfing aspirant in the country. The respect he commands and his popularity are second to none. He is the first Indian golfer to not only become the member of the US PGA Tour, but also to win a PGA tournament in 2010 Wyndham Championship. He is the second Indian after Jeev Milkha Singh, to secure an invitation to the prestigious Masters tournament in 2011. He has won 8 Asian Tour events, 3 European Tour events and 1 PGA tour event apart from many other events. Not to mention that he is the first Indian to win an Asian tour, the first Indian to win a European tour and the first Indian to win a PGA tour,
Currently Playing; Asian tour and PGA tour.
JYOTI RANDHAWA, New Delhi.
The first ever Indian to become Asia number one in the year 2002, Jyoti is one of the most prevailing names in Indian golf. He has been ranked in the top 100 in the official world golf ranking several times between 2004-2009. He has represented India in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 world cup. He represented Asia in the Royal trophy in 2006 and India in the Alfred Dunhill cup, 1999. He has won 8 Asian tour tournaments and 1 Japan Golf tour event. He received the Arjuna award in the year 2004.
Currently playing; Asian tour.
GAURAV GHEI, New Delhi
Going back the time when golf was inconsequential as a professional sport in India, this man became the first Indian to qualify for the British Open in 1997. He has won three Asian tours; the Gadgil Western Masters in 1995, the Taiwan Masters in 2006 and the 2007 Beijing open. His other victories include the Desaru Classic (Malaysia) in 1994 and the Asian Nations Cup (Malaysia) in 1999.
Currently playing; Professional Golf Tour of India.
SHIV SHANKAR PRASAD “SSP” CHAWRESIA, Kolkata.
The epitome of hard work and sheer natural talent, he is also fondly called ‘chip putt chawrasia’ for his distinctive short game. He is one of the two male Indian golfers to represent India in the Rio Olympics, 2016. The humble, self-coached golfer has won 4 European tour events, 6 Asian Tour events apart from 10 other local events. He was conferred the Arjuna Award for his contribution towards Indian golf in August 2017.
Currently playing; European tour, Asian tour.
SHIV KAPUR, New Delhi.
He made a prodigious debut with an individual gold medal in the Asian Games as an amateur in 2002, Shiv is one of the most sought after Indian golfers. After turning professional in 2004 he went on to win 2 Asian Tour events and 2 European Challenge Tour events. He received the Arjuna Award in 2002.
Currently playing; Asian tour.
RAHIL GANGJEE, Kolkata.
Rahil is the first Indian to win in his debut season both in Indian and Asian tour. He has won 1 Asian tour event, the Volkswagen Masters, China in 2004 and the PGTI Players Championship in 2008 and is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to Indian golf.
MUKESH KUMAR, Mhow.
The only golfer ever to have an unprecedented 100 plus wins in the Indian circuit, Mukesh has the highest winning percentage in golf. He achieved his 100th victory in 2008 Tata Open and he looks forward to many more. He is a much-venerated figure amongst his fellow players and golf enthusiasts alike. Mukesh won his first Asian tour event in December 2016 at the Panasonic Open, India.
Currently Playing; Professional Golf Tour Of India.
We are not saying that they are the only golfers in the country; but they are definitely the ones who put Indian golf on the world map singlehandedly, without any organizational or governmental aid. The list of talented Indian golfers can go on, but the people mentioned above are the trailblazers; who have reached such heights with their determination and credibility. We are just bringing them out in the front for people to know them up close, in all their entirety.