Local tours are a must to boost players

Updated: Jan 21 2007, 06:52am hrs
The holidays are over and its back on the road for all the professionals. The European Tour starts the year in sunny Abu Dhabi, followed by tournaments in Qatar and Dubai, while the Asian Tour makes its debut in Pakistan. Back home the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) starts the New Year with a tournament in Digboi and as per sources already has over three crore rupees on offer this season.

Started by a body of professional golfers, it has been a tough six months for the PGTI. Following various allegations, the PGTI has finally proved that the real reason for breaking away was to provide a better tour and take the game to the next level. And the next level Well, keeping in mind the large sums of money spent on corporate golf in the past few years, it was sad to see that prize money on the domestic tour had barely risen in the last six or seven years. Tournaments with total prize money of between Rs 10-20 lakhs meant that only the top few earners made a decent living. The PGTI set about trying to change that they are working hard to ensure that their members have big money tournaments to play, like the Rs 70 Lakh 2006 BILT Open and are ensuring that no tournament is less than Rs 20 Lakh even if this means putting in the difference till existing sponsors can come up with the complete sum.

Another interesting fact is that while the Order of Merit winner in the previous years accumulated around seven to eight lakhs at the end of the season, the current Order of Merit leader on the PGTI, Harmeet Kahlon has already earned Rs 11,67000 after just three tournaments so far this season. Today it is heartening to speak to players who feel rewarded for their hard work as a good finish means a decent cheque, which goes a long way.