Friday, November 21, 2008

Beat these nerve-wracking times - Pick up Golf - My Experiences

This downturn though very scary in terms of job security is resulting into some unexpected benefits. We have more time than usual in our hands. I have decided to stay positive by making most of this time to visit the gym in the morning and hone my golfing skills.

That said; let me talk on my current passion. I got inspired to pick up this game by couple of events. First and foremost reason happens to be my pal Rajiv Kapadia, who took me to the range and subsequently to the course, during one of my visits to his place in Detroit. Somehow I had this perception that it’s not affordable and very elitist. As I grew this notion weakened but finally gave it away when I played with Rajiv. Two days to the driving range and then to the course - this act was enough to bury my apprehensions of what people would think if I am unable to hit the ball, what happens if I take more shots than usual, what about etiquette, rules etc. He said, “just enjoy the game and that’s all that matters”. That was a short trip and back to India and nothing much progressed for almost a year. Here, unlike US, you have very few courses, and most of them very expensive and exclusive and rest of them far off. So that inhibition remained to some extent. Coming to my second and third reason that were almost simultaneous – I am regular reader of Rishi Narain’s weekly column in The Economic Times and one of the articles, a year back, was around whats the best time to start Golf, some starting tips, couple of weekends with discipline, why its not very expensive proposition and so on. Motivated with that I decided to pursue what I had left back in US. At around the same time, I used to talk about golf with Mano Chhabra, a colleague of mine at GE. One day we decided to visit the range of TERI Golf Course, where he was the member. And with that the final barrier was demolished. I followed it up by visits over couple of weekends and then on there was no looking back. I also want to thank Mano for his grace in picking up the first invoice at the range. Around the same time another close friend of mine, Rajneesh Verma, was picking up and honing his skills, who now is a low handicapper.

Though I am a great fan of Jyoti Randhawa, I was little surprised by his comments in his column in The Times of India where again he tries to reinforce and build the ‘very elitist’ image. I believe most of successful golfers should try to break this image and make it comfortable for people to get initiated. This may do more harm than good to the game.

Anyway, here am I using the ‘abundance’ of time to practice. Trying to bring my handicap from infinity to a writable number. Golfing like any other game needs lot of practice and coaching. Here I share some experiences.

The more one hits the range and the course the more one gets better at connecting the ball, realizes the errors, builds strategies to correct it, improves the short game, realizes the difference between hitting on astroturf and hitting on the grass (that too of different types, heights, blade angle, density), gets a feel of yardages, use of assemble of clubs, learns the rules etc. To top it, no two courses are same. Full of leadership lessons to be learnt – Different courses are like business situations. These are like start-ups, turnarounds, ramp ups (sustaining success) or closure/divestiture. And every situation needs different combination of strokes to come out successful. This one feature of different courses is very enjoyable and has given us some of very astonishing courses in the world (where we may never be able to play !).

It’s such a humbling game and keeps your spiritual quotient intact and if you are not you will definitely become one. Hitting a stationary ball never proved to be so tough.You’re your ego will go for a toss. You are good one day and other day turns out to be nasty and forces you to improve. I was reading todays paper which talks about the Hong Kong Open. Jeev, who won Singapore’s flagship tournament humbling Ernie El and Padraig Harrington, was struggling at Hong Kong Open ranking 73 on the opening day. Hence it’s very important to keep the motivation going irrespective of how you fare one particular day. It’s an endeavor to continuously excel and better the game.

Playing full 18 holes is not easy, especially if you are walking the whole course. I have developed enormous respect for Pro’s who play 18 holes every day in a 3-4 day tournament, week after week. Its quite tiring - but isn’t it healthy as one ends up burning hundreds of calories.

However the best of all benefits, it’s a great stress buster. That’s true with any sport, but definitely so with golf. You get so immersed into it and come out thoroughly refreshed. A super tonic in such nerve-racking stressful times.

The only caveat, all the above holds true only if your wife buys into all the arguments put forth. So time it well. The initial capital expenses could be high – the set, the shoes, balls and coaching – so time it with buying something for her and it should be a little more expensive than your set. By the time she comes out of the good feeling, you would have picked up the game!

Hail Golf.

1 comment:

Rishi said...

If you like golf check out the movie and the book-"The greatest game ever played....