|GOLFERS GALORE: Team BT-AmEx ProAm gets together
at the 19th hole before teeing off for the day
and underground humourist P.J.O'Rourke found out that all the important
lessons in life are contained in three rules for achieving the perfect
golf swing: keep your head down; follow through; and, be born with
But you don't have to necessarily be born with
money to blow it on the course. You've got to earn it.
|"Both golf and the scotch we make come
Director, Highland Distillers
|"Tyres and golf keep you going"
Director, Goodyear India
|"Both golf and Coke are very, very competitive"
, CEO, Coca-Cola
|"Pharma cures all physical ailments
and golf is a great revitaliser for the body, spirit and mind"
Just like the corporate honchos and professionals
at the Business Today-American Express Pro-Am Champions 2002. They
fought hard, real hard, to earn every point on the undulating 18-hole
green. Venue: the rolling greens of the Jack Nicklaus-designed Classic
Golf Resort in Gurgaon. Days: March 2 and 3, 2002.
In its seventh consecutive year, the two-day,
Rs 1.5-crore rendezvous packed in 102 amateurs, 17 professionals,
34 caddies-delivered from hole to hole on 34 battery-operated carts.
Both days as a gongoozler, I lazed around hole
# 10. Right next to the food stall, and each time the ball hit the
pole jutting out of the hole, I just couldn't resist a couple of
chicken sandwiches. Y.C. Deveshwar (itc Ltd), Bharat Patel (Procter
& Gamble), Sanjay Rishi (American Express), Gopal Ansal (Ansal
Buildwell), Alex Von Behr (Coca-Cola India), Rana Kapoor (Rabo Bank)-they
all teed off from where I would love to crash out.
|HERO NO. 1: Pankaj Munjal of Hero Group
in the swing of things
|GOLFAHOLIC, Despite a handicap of 18,
Prannoy Roy--the NDTV chief--waxes humility claiming to be a
third-rater in golf
|BUNKER: Ruchir Sharma of Morgan Stanley
drives on a course pock-marked by bunkers
Despite a-more-than-normal chill in the morning,
rolling on the grassy carpet on the first day was perhaps more interesting
than the roll of the ball for most players. 'Blame it on the weather'
was the common refrain as the sun refused to shine the first half
of the day.
But who cares as long as there is hobnobbing
and camaraderie. Over lunch, it was clear our amateur players had
a ball even if they couldn't swing it to the right hole. For Y.C.
Deveshwar, 54, Chairman, ITC Ltd, golf is quality time. A time to
relax and sharpen his skills in managing. And when he plays on his
own company promoted course in the Classic Golf Resort, it is ultra
special. One of the first to tee off in the championship, he was
thoroughly at home notching up 34 points in the stableford format.
''The game was okay and it is a pleasure to play with your peers.
The banter, the competitiveness all makes it very interesting,''
Deveshwar's team-mate, Procter & Gamble
Chairman, Bharat Patel plays a number of PRO-AMs. ''This is special.
The whole ambience and the prize-like playing at St. Andrews-all
make it so exciting.'' Of course, Patel was referring to an all-expenses-paid
trip to the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland, the Mecca of
Golf. The tournament every year flies out two winning amateurs to
St. Andrews to play competitive golf and get a better grip on the
sport. The two who made it this year are Anup Singh of ITC (any
familiarity with the course is purely coincidental!) and the Singapore-based
Seagate General Manager Robert Yang. This is what Yang sang after
the event on the first day: ''I've come from Singapore to attend
this (event) and although the greens were tricky, I scored 87 points.''
When asked how Classic compared with other courses, the widely travelled
Oriental quipped that the course in Bangkok was his favourite since
it had lady caddies to assist you from hole to hole.
It may take a while for Classic to undergo
such sex-change, but the 34 caddies slotted for the job proved more
than a handful-slinging the golf kits, collecting balls, and keeping
scores as the four players per team (technically called four-ball)
moved all along the course.
|PUTT SERIOUSLY: ITC honcho Anup Singh
putts as Kapil Dev Puckers
|THREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Bharat Patel
of P&G (L), Y.C. Deveshwar of ITC & GE's Pramod Bhasin
(R) say cheese over tea
|GO-KARTING: Mehroo Irani of Associate
Breweries with a fellow golfer being carted for tee-off
Ranbaxy Chairman Tejendra Khanna ''got along
very well (with his team members) in terms of mutual chemistry.''
Sporting a black baseball cap, he claimed his long game was good
and blamed the multiple and undulating slopes for difficulty in
putting. But when it came to choosing his favourite course, Classic
was indisputably on top.
There was Vikram Mehta, chairman of Shell India,
nursing his drink not very far from Khanna. The Mumbai-based oil
honcho was visibly jet-lagged as he had flown in from London, but
being bleary-eyed did not stop his enthusiasm. He was perhaps the
only candidate who desisted from taking the cart. Instead Mehta,
who ''just enjoys hitting the ball'', did hard work physically covering
the course on foot.
For Delhi Police super-cop Ajai Raj Sharma,
although ''the environment at Classic is refreshing'', the Nainital
golf course was much prettier and challenging topographically. Nearby
somewhere, super-Coke CEO Alex Von Behr was seen lurking with ''a
light whisky'' held close to his chest. ''In golf you're always
trying to push yourself further'', the 15-handicap Anglo-Dutch said
with a wink in his eye.
The Famous Grouse Scotch Whisky was one of
the sponsors of the event and its Regional Director Anacreon Barnard
drew a classic association between the sport and scotch-presto,
both come from Scotland. Prannoy Roy, the face of Star News, was
there too and despite a handicap of 18, was waxing humility: ''In
golf, I'm a third-rater'', is what the bearded anchor-head of New
Delhi Television (NDTV) had to say.
Understandably then, the show was a big draw
with both the artists and tyros of the turf. They came, they stooped
(for the shot, of course) and they conferred. It was an opportunity
to get the heads in and set the ball rolling and the tournament
did that to the tee.
TEE IN THE DARK
|Movie star Suresh Oberoi trying his hand
at night golf
teed off at night? The experience as I have just experienced,
is far from the ordinary. The ball sits there on the tee about
an inch or so above the ground. It has a special green incandescent
strip running around it imparting a fluorescent glow. You
can't see the ball. Just a green neon ring above the ground.
All you need to do now is putt it into the hole that glows
at a distance. As extras, there are candles to light up the
fairway. But there is darkness at the edge of everything else.
And mind you, no floodlights.
That's uphill for any pro, but amateurs
can really lap it up. Says Procter & Gamble Chairman Bharat
Patel: ''This night golf business is absolutely fabulous.
Also it is a great opportunity of getting together with friends
who do not often meet because of very pressing schedules.''
Aptly called 'Tee in the dark', Business
Today and Malaysia Airlines conjured up this event for the
first time in India. About 100 glow balls were imported from
Taiwan at an average $7 (Rs 336) a piece. And now for the
concept man-'Tee in the Dark' was Classic Golf Resort's Head
(Golf Operations) John Volz's baby, through and through. Volz
is from Florida, with a hint of pride in his high-octave pitch:
''Friends back home say I'm a creative person.'' You betcha!