From Meerut to America - Amardip Singh's journey by virtue of ECU-IAPGA
The ECU-IAPGA is a unique concept that hones Indian golfers to play and qualify for the US PGA.
"I think there is a lot of talent and I feel we will see many more Indians in the golf event in the years to come.”
These words from one of the finest Indian golfers, Amardip Singh, exuded hints of confidence and belief in the ECU - Indo-American Professional Golf Association.
The ECU-IAPGA is a one-of-its-kind concept that has been rolled out in the country to nurture golfing talent in order to help them play and qualify for the biggest event of the sport, the US PGA.
How does the program work?
Well, ten of the best Indian golfers are shortlisted and taken for a 20 day, eight-city tour to the United States for a hands-on international experience. Post which, two of the best performing players are selected and given the rare chance of making the cut in the qualifying school of web.com.
In 2016, Amardip was one of the players alongside Deepak Kullar who was given the unique opportunity. His thoughts on how the concept benefits young golfers, “I think the concept is quite interesting and we think that having the likes of Rishi Narain on board helps a lot. Development of infrastructure is really important and equally essential is the need to give youngsters opportunities, which has been the prime target of this program.”
India has been in the history books of golf always owing to lesser representation on the international circuit. Previously only three golfers in the likes of Rahil Gangjee, Arjun Atwal and Daniel Chopra have made it to the US PGA, through web.com.
What are the issues plaguing Indian golf and how can they be resolved?
Amardip is of the opinion that, “Although the comparison is not fair, if you look at the US, you will find that the infrastructure there is just incredible and exposure to these from an early age is something we should look towards matching. We need to develop a strong base for the sport and the government needs to support young golfers.”
Other than this, a major concern recognised by the ECU program is the fact that there is a lack of technical knowledge amongst the Indian golfers about American golf. The courses are often tricky, challenging and span across a long playing season. The annual tour of ECU-IAPGA tackles this issue and additionally provides financial aid to compete effectively, which raises the performance standards of the Indian youngsters.
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The lad from Meerut put forth an inspiring performance in the US, to progress across two stages of the three-stage qualifying school and will take a lot of heart from his stint, and come back stronger next year. Going back in time, he told us how he made inroads into the sport at an early age, “I was lucky to be born in an Army family and had an access to golf courses. This helped me develop a love for golf and I just picked on, starting at the age of 14-15. I turned pro at the age of 20 and have not looked back since then.”
That was way back in 2004. More than a decade post that, the talented golfer has tread a long way to earn several accolades, the most prized one being the PGTI Noida Masters in 2014. Apart from that, he has numerous top 10 finishes to his credit, including; a third place in the Hemisphere PGTI Masters in 2015, fifth in the Golconda Masters 2015, second in Tata Open 2015, fourth in Kolkata Classic 2016 and second in Take Solutions Classic 2016.
Who is the fillip to his cause, the role models which motivate him?
“The usual suspects come to my mind when I think of idols. I am a die-hard golf fan and have grown up watching Tiger Woods. He is an absolute legend. Another name that has inspired me a lot is Anirban Lahiri. What he has done for Indian golf is incredible and stunning."
To be on the same level as these athletes, three ingredients would guarantee professional success on the golf circuit according to Amardip. "Coaching, attitude and opportunity are important aspects that create a top class golf player and we have many doing great at the Junior level. The transition is tough but not far away," he stated.
The ECU-IAPGA has played an instrumental role in Amardip’s career, and he is sure that the future beholds greater success for the sport with such programs, "Given the amount of young talent we have, all potential stars in the offing courtesy of such heartening initiatives, the sport of golf will embark on newer heights in the coming time."