March 3: Anirban Lahiri’s success in recent weeks is an indication that the Indian Golf Union’s initiatives over the past decade is starting to bear fruit.
The 27-year-old Lahiri said at a press conference at the Hero Indian Open: “The Indian Golf Union’s competitive Amateur golf Tour and Junior Golf program has given Indian golf its competitive edge. I was a participant in the IGU’s junior programs in the South Zone and it was in that program that I met up with Vijay Divecha who continues to be my coach till this day.
“The mental and physical preparation a golfer gets playing four rounds at each of the 15 tournaments annually on the IGU Amateur Tour is a strong reason for the success of Indian professionals on the international circuits. When we were juniors and amateurs, the IGU ensured we played frequently in international events with the best golfers of our age in the world which gave me confidence to pursue a professional career.”
Gaganjeet Bhullar, a five-time Asian Tour champion, added: “I wouldn’t have become what I am today without playing on the IGU’s junior & amateur circuit.”
In the last five years the IGU conducted about 15 four-day amateur events annually for men around the country on a variety of courses and sent amateur teams to international events such as the Asian Games, Eisenhower Trophy (World Amateur Team Championship), Nomura Cup (Asia Pacific Amateur Team Golf Championship), Faldo Series, Asian Junior Championships and annual individual international events such as the new Asia Pacific Amateur Championship where the winner wins a spot at The Masters as well as the Malaysian and Singapore Amateur championships besides Sri Lanka Amateur.
In 2014, the IGU incorporated the National Handicap Service (NHS) which is based on the USGA handicapping system and the GHIN (Golf Handicap and Information Network). The NHS will not only help golf clubs maintain handicapping records but will also allow them track course usage, pace of play and tee time schedule all based on RFID technology and other software. NHS also gives golfers without club memberships an opportunity to get an IGU and USGA recognized handicap to enable them to access golf courses. This is a remarkable opportunity for new entrants to the game and will help open up the game to non-members of clubs in a big way.
The IGU promotes junior golf programs across the country as well as introduces children to the sport through its National Initiative for Golf in Schools (NIGS) program. Through its robust selection and funding process, the IGU carefully selects India’s team participation in the Asia Pacific Amateur Team Championship, World Amateur Team Championship, Asian Games, Asian Senior Amateur, Asian Junior Amateur and Faldo Junior Series.