On the right course

Updated: Nov 13 2005, 05:30am hrs
The Delhi Golf Club (DGC), where Thailands Thaworn Wiratchant was crowned the 2005 Hero Honda Indian Open champion, proved once again to be the best venue in the country to hold the national open. Massive galleries cheered local favourite Gaurav Ghei as he came agonizingly close to giving Thaworn a run for the title - repeating his famous shot on the 18th that saw him win the Western Gadgil in 1995.

However, this time he chipped in for a birdie and fell short by a stroke, eventually finishing second to a winner who later professed to having few positive feelings for the course.

The DGC has an old-world charm that cannot be easily reproduced. The Indian Open, which moved to the Classic Golf Resort from the Royal Calcutta Golf Course due to sponsorship problems, which eventually forced the existing sponsor to pull out, later moved to the capital and seems to have found a home at the DGC. Though most courses would take pride in hosting a tournament of this magnitude, few members would restrain from complaining if the course were shut a week prior to the event to provide the best playing facilities to professionals. However, the DGC opened only for the 144 players of the championship three days before the tournament, with perfectly manicured fairways, smooth greens, a thick rough guarding the fairways and dense well-preserved bushes beyond.

The lawns played host to the hundreds of spectators and members. DGC always has some of the biggest galleries for events as most of the members are great supporters of the game. As a result, they also make up the galleries at events held elsewhere, like the recently concluded Hero Honda Ladies Skins which was played at the DLF Golf and Country Club where only few of the local members turned up to watch.

DGC is centrally located and it is not unusual for members to drop in for lunch or after work.

The Indian Open has one of the countrys leading brands backing it. Also, it is managed by the World Sport Group, which amazed all with the smooth running of the tournament. I remember being involved with the National Open when I was just out of university. After covering the Open Championship and the Womens British Open, I had great ideas and remember suggesting that a media tent should be put up just off the 18th green. The idea was met by shock, the fear of implementation and costs involved.

Therefore, last week heralded the beginning of a new era - an air-conditioned hospitality tent on the right of the 18th green occupied a place of pride - and the way event was organised, it could be any major on the Asian or European Tour. I was told by one of the players who met a representative of the company that put the tent together that the budget was such that they could have put up a multi-storeyed unit if desired!

Logically speaking, if the sponsor wanted to save money he would call upon his various accountants - not an event management company! Secondly, this was the first edition of the Indian Open watched live and this will hopefully attract more sponsors to the game. For local golfers it is an incentive to allow new players into the management arena and a taste of what the future holds if they are open to change. WSG proved that everything is possible, even in India.