European Tour

Singh: India can learn from SA

Jeev Milkha Singh (AFP)
Jeev Milkha Singh (AFP)
Pretoria - Indian professional Jeev Milkha Singh has pointed to South Africa as the perfect example of one of the world’s most successful junior golf programmes, and one he hopes his own country will follow.

Speaking on the eve of the first round of the Tshwane Open at The Els Club, Copperleaf, on Wednesday, Singh, 41, said he hoped golf’s inclusion in the 2016 Olympics would spur Indian authorities to embark on a similar golf programme as the one that has been so successful in South Africa.

“The South African junior golf programme is one of the best in the world,” said Singh, a winner of 20 tournaments worldwide and who has witnessed the South African players moving through the ranks from the first time he played in this country in 1998.

“I’ll give you the reasons for that. First, South Africa has excellent golf courses. Second, the game is easily accessible in schools here. And third, this is a sporting nation.

“South Africa also has many public courses. In India, we have one public golf course and one public driving range in New Delhi. I’m hoping this changes with golf being included in the Olympics for 2016, because our government will hopefully make more of an effort to build more public driving ranges and more public golf courses, so anybody who wants to play is given an opportunity.

“When I was growing up you had no chance unless your father was a member at a private golf course. We still have a lot of work left in this area.”

The scarcity of available land in India is a major stumbling block to the growth of golf there, but Singh believes there is an alternative.

“I’m always saying that if we can’t have public golf courses in India, then at least let’s have public driving ranges. I feel there is a lot of talent in our country and we have some great youngsters that can play anywhere in the world if they are given the chance.”
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