Royal Calcutta Golf Club

Royal Calcutta Golf Club – October 2016 – This post is my 200th post on my website and it seems only fitting that it is writing about the 90th golf course I have played since I started golfing back in July 2014.

I cannot believe where golf has taken me in such a short time  – besides being in India -who would have thought I would be CEO of a not for profit I founded, Fairways, sponsoring junior golfers all over the world.

Today I got to play with some wonderful junior golfers in West Bengal, India.

I met up with my caddy, Goga on the street outside my house and we walked to the course which was only a few blocks away.

Director of Golf at both RCGC and The Tolly Club, Indrajit Bhalotia had placed a wager on our round this morning – he had seen me play quite poorly yesterday and had given me two shots a hole which I decided to accept. He has won lots of tournaments so I felt it only fair.

I had gambled my favourite ball marker I had picked up in Scotland. I wasn’t sure what he was offering but I figured I would be giving my marker away – how wrong was I????

My clubs were in the back of Indrajit’s car along with my golf shoes so his turning up 5 minutes before we teed off I decided was part of his strategy to put me off. Didn’t work.

Nothing puts me off golf – oh I have terrible shots but it is never because I am distracted.

I did have a couple of practice putts but it was with someone else’s putter so it just wasn’t the same, also golfing in a pair of canvas shoes felt strange.

Besides Indrajit, my partners for the front nine were 13yr old Souvik Nayak (who had won Category B in the Tally Juniors Open yesterday) and Sunit Chowrasia.

The boys can certainly play and I didn’t go too badly myself. I think one of the tricks to playing in India is play early (or invest in a glove).

I was playing quite well and the fact I had two shots a hole gave me quite the advantage. By the 7th I was up two and won it on the 8th quite easily – I shouldn’t have had two shots a hole but Indrajit may have felt I needed it watching the rubbish that had come off my club yesterday.

RCGC is one of the oldest golf clubs outside of Britain and the course is absolutely beautiful. There are numerous water hazards (to which I donated three balls) and undulating fairways with some tricky greens. The green side bunkers protect the greens well and I had a few shots from there that were pretty good (if I do say so myself).

My front nine was so much better than my back nine (perhaps Indrajit should have stayed for 18) as I found as the day got muggier and my hands slipperier, I mishit more shots.

I was hitting my 3w quite poorly on the back nine just continually drop kicking it and Goga told me to adjust my ball position which improved it somewhat but it still wasn’t quite there. I think the slippery grip had me holding it a lot tighter to ensure I wouldn’t actually throw it when I connected.

While the course was moved to it’s current position in 1910, the trees are well established and provide shade and obstacles and are just downright beautiful.

Indrajit pointed out one of the oldest trees and my response was “I’d love to climb that”. He was a little shocked and his response was “you climb trees?”. I may be turning 40 next year but you are never too old to climb a tree. That said I didn’t have time to climb trees – I was golfing.

There was some wonderful golf on display in my group and I even hit some fantastic golf shots myself. I dropped a few nice putts and my chipping was markedly improved from yesterday. In fact I had some great chips that settled not too far from the pin and others were right touch, wrong line but for me that is very good too. Dave (my golf guru in Canada) would be very happy with me.

After nine holes, Indrajit had to leave – not because I beat him – so we grabbed a bite to eat (he bought me some eggs which we have decided is his wager paid) and I headed back out with the boys.

We were joined by another junior, Manish Rajak and I was very impressed with the quality of golf from the boys.

After playing with a caddy yesterday I was used to being told what to do (somewhat) although every time Goga said “don’t go left” I did exactly that. I managed to find my ball as the edge of the water a few times and was pleased as I may have run out of balls if I continually donated them to the course.

The course has two par threes, two par fives and 14 par fours. In the humidity it can make the par fours long for me but the boys didn’t seem to have many issues.

I was playing with a Snell ball that I had in my bag and Sunit had inadvertently hit my ball instead and asked me what I was playing with as they hadn’t seen Snell balls before so I tossed him one and told him to give it a go. He was pretty happy with getting the ball and told me he was trying it on the 18th which was where we were heading.

I had limped around the back nine with one or two poor shots each hole and one hole was drop kick after drop kick before sinking a nice long putt so I was pleased to have a great drive on the 18th to finish off. My second shot wiht my 3w was wayward but well struck and my chip on was with perfect touch just directionally challenged.

I had a great time playing with the boys (even if they kept calling me Maam). We applauded each others great shots (and yes I had a few)  and I do believe I actually clapped a couple of darts thrown by Manish and Sunit. Souvik hit an exceptional bunker shot on the 14th to within inches from the pin and I can see how he won his division yesterday.

He now has a benefactor to help him play junior tournaments all over India which he is delighted about and I look forward to watching his progress.

They all play 3-4 times a week and practice 2-3 times a week having one day off as they hone their skills. There is not much time for anything besides golf so I hope the golf gods shine on them.

My 90th round was great – not only did I win the match and watch jackals laze in the shade, I got some good touches on my chipping (which is what I have been working on) and here I am golfing in India.

Who would have thought?

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