It has been a smooth transition from hockey to golf for Ajay Bharathi. The 39-year-old, who had began his career as centre-half for South Central Railway played from 1993 to 2006 before switching over to golf at the insistence of the then SCR general manager NC Sinha. “I never dreamt of playing golf as it was always regarded as a rich man’s game. But our GM always encouraged us to take up golf. It took me six months to understand and perfect the nuances of the game,’’ recalls Bharathi.
Nine years later, Bharathi has got the biggest opportunity of his career – he will represent Indian Railways in the 3rd World Railway Golf championship to be held at Vichy in France from September 21 to 25. This world Railway meet is conducted every four years and Bharathi is a member of six-member team. “It is a big opportunity where I will get to play against some top golfers of the world,” he says
Bharathi was a canny mid-fielder hockey player. Hockey needs a lot of energy and intensity. I had to be the key player distributing the ball to my forward line. We have to make a lot of strong runs,’’ he recalls.
While hockey had its challenges and pressure, it was a different ball game once he took up golf. “It was a big challenge for me. These are totally different games. I needed a different attitude to make a mark in golf,” the sportsman says.
Talking about his initial days in golf, Bharathi says he had to challenge himself at every step. But soon he found common link – the swing of hockey stick and golf club. “While in hockey I had some restrictions while swinging the stick as it is short, golf is all about perfection in swinging the club,” he explains.
Soon the sport became a passion for Bharathi. “The first few holes are very important. It requires a lot of concentration. And soon enough I started enjoying the quiet atmosphere of the golf course. Within six months, I mastered the game,” he says confidently.
Bharathi, however, admitted he was nervous in the first few tournaments. The nervousness weared off once he started representing SCR and wining in the inter-railway champions and in city tournaments.
Within a year, in 2007, he was adjudged the best golfer in inter-railway championship and he repeated the show in 2008. Last year he won the championship at Kapurthula and got selected to the Indian Railways team.
Bharathi is married to Olympian Shobha, who became famous in the 2004 Athens Olympics when she completed the seven-discipline heptathlon event despite being injured in the penultimate event of Javelin throw. “We do talk a lot on sports. She gives useful tips,’’ he says.