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The phenomenal rise of Shubhankar Sharma can be duly credited to the dedication of his father Col Mohan Sharma. When 16-year-old Shubhankar Sharma, India’s current Golf sensation, thought of giving wings to his dream, father Col Mohan Sharma decided to forsake his Army job and instead help his son pursue his dream career. Parents are, irrefutably, the biggest enablers of a child's success. Just like Shubhankar’s father, for many parents, the dream of nurturing a Golfing prodigy in India is robust.
4moles.com exclusively speaks to some wonder parents of Junior Golfers in India to unravel the secret.
8-year-old Golf prodigy Kartik Singh became the youngest player to win Junior World title in golf in January. His parents, who were staying in Kochi, shifted their base in Gurgaon due to better Golf practising facilities available there. His mother took a job in Gurgaon in Indigo Airlines, and his father, a Naval Officer, joined them later from Kochi.
Being a golf parent is a unique experience - while it is tough on one hand, it is a lot of fun and satisfaction on the other, says Kartik’s father Dhananjay Singh. “ I feel proud of myself to think out of the box and expose Kartik to Golf in the first place. Deciding to buy a kid's golf set when he was just five and taking him to a golf coach for the first time was perhaps my biggest contribution in his golfing journey. From there on, he has been earning his successes through hard work and carving a golf future of his own. The more he plays, the more convinced I am that I and my wife made the right choice for our son.”
He adds with a lot of poise, “As regards to challenges, there are plenty. As there is no ready golf set up in our country that can provide world-class amenities and training to the talented junior golfers, it is more like an individual battle that parents like us have to fight. There are issues of finances, facilities and time. Getting all of them for our kids demand a lot. Both I and my wife are in a job, and most of our earning needs to be dedicated to ensuring that Kartik has proper training, exposure and equipment. As he is still not independent, we need to make time to ensure that he has a regular practice. Finding time for his golf practices and tournaments is our biggest challenge.”
10-year-old Prarthana Khanna has been serenading the world with her tremendous Golfing abilities. Her father Puneet Khanna has been playing a momentous role in making her ride the crest of success. Puneet Khanna, a lawyer by profession, has shifted his focus to Arbitration which is mainly out of court settlement due to her game. He says, “I can't be visiting the court and can't fix any schedule as it totally depends on her tournaments and training schedules.”
So what it takes to raise a junior Golfer in India? “For raising a golfer a parent needs to be ready to devote time and need to take care of the financial costs as well. The game is too demanding in terms of the time involved. Have to manage school curriculum as well. Plus the cost of travel and lodging are on the rise. The golf courses are expensive and you can't expect to pay such high green fees in order to get the junior golf to practice. I personally feel if the golf clubs of India can come out with junior Membership plans which are subsidized.”
Urvi Patel is a doctor by profession and doting mother of two shining stars of Golf- Ronav and Nishna Patel. Her kids have been doing extremely well on the Junior Golfing circuit and she has been effectively juggling between her profession and her Golfer kids. She quips, “As a golfing parent it is very challenging and fun raising a golfer kid. It needs dedication and determination from a parent to prepare a child to follow and pursue one’s dream by balancing Golf practice, Fitness, Nutrition and Academics. Then only you can get an evolving a mentally and physically fit Golfer. The right push at the right time from parents is needed as they are very young to decide.”
16-year-old Junior Golfer Pranavi Urs has been creating a lot of waves on the golfing circuit. Her father Sharath Urs has a piece of advice for every Golf parent who wants to see their child touch new heights. “To become a Golf Parent, first of all, you need lots of money, patience and should be very supportive and motivational which the kids don't like being advised most of the time. Just to keep encouraging your child day in and out. Results will follow later. Should give the child the freedom to love golf and then play the game.”
Against all odds stacked against them, Golf Parents in India are still putting up their best foot forward to help their sporting stars. Well-meaning parents can tread a fine line between supporting and pushing gifted children. Keep your prodigy loving their sport and watch them blossom!