BENGALURU: There was a time when premier golf events in India were dominated by foreign players. But the game in India has evolved so much in the last two decades that defeating Indians at home is a rare case now.
To an extent, players owe this to the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI). Since formation in 2006, it has grown steadily and offers in excess of `10 crore in total prize money over 20-plus events. With the number of events, level of competition and standard rising every year, Indians are getting quality exposure at home before playing overseas.
But despite PGTI becoming a member of the Association of Professional Tours, its events don’t carry ranking points — closing the door to top overseas players. Next year, that is likely to change. “PGTI events are likely to carry world ranking points from 2018. That will bring more competition and hopefully more sponsorship from the government and corporates. It will help Indian players grow,” said PGTI CEO Uttam Singh Mundy on Tuesday.
Golfer Rahil Gangjee feels the move will help Indian players compete at a higher level.
“With PGTI events becoming open next year, it’s a boon for Indian lads. Thus far, the competition has been closed and improvement has been slow. But with this move, Indians will be up for tough competition, which will help us get ready for a higher level.”
Over the last few years, Indian golf has seen a steady increase in prize money. On Wednesday, one of the top events in terms of prize money, Bengaluru Open will tee off at the Karnataka Golf Association course. It carries a purse of `1 crore.
With this kind of amount, seasoned pro Jyoti Randhawa feels players will be help to fund themselves. “When I started, prize money wasn’t this big and there were not many tournaments. But now, with the increasing money and more PGTI events, players are able to fund their travel, which is a costly affair.”
While the economic aspect of the game is no doubt helping golfers like S Chikkarangappa, who didn’t come from a very affluent background, local players are also getting exposure through PGTI events to compete with top golfers. Players such as Khalin Joshi have made significant strides in the last few years. “Competition on PGTI tour is very good. It’s a great platform for young players like me to move up the ladder. With PGTI becoming open next year, it will help the local lads compete with the world’s best,” he said.
As for the Bengaluru Open, with sponsorship from the Karnataka Tourism Department, it hopes to become a permanent fixture on the PGTI calendar.