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Golf: Give milk man's son Shubham time and space to shine

Some young promising golfers disappeared, some still linger and then some still have a chance

Sitting at the media centre at the Open Championships of golf in St Andrews, where Anirban Lahiri is the topic of discussion for those unfamiliar with Indian golf, it was hard to miss out on young Shubham Jaglan's win at the World Junior Golf Championships in the San Diego in age category 9-10 years. Shubham, 10, emerged winner with a score seven-under 179 on a par-62 on Fountains Course in Welks Resort, San Diego. He shot 60-59-60.

Shubham Jaglan's win at the World Junior Golf Championships in the San Diego is being spoken about at the British Open at St Andrews. Pic/Courtesy: Shubham Jaglan's Facebook page
Shubham Jaglan's win at the World Junior Golf Championships in the San Diego is being spoken about at the British Open at St Andrews. Pic/Courtesy: Shubham Jaglan's Facebook page 

Down the same leaderboard one also spotted – Sihan Sandhu from Ashburn, Virginia in 21st; Kush Arora from Pleasanton, California in 35th and Pranay Singh in 64th from Eden Priarie, Minnesota. Sandhu is two years younger than Jaglan and the other two are one year younger and all seem to be kids of Indian-origin parents. The Indians are coming, alright.

Shubham is not exactly an unfamiliar name in Indian golfing circles – he has already been talked about for the last three to four years, from the time he was six and less. Part of it is because he is the son of a little-educated humble milkman from Israna, Haryana and part because of a lovely swing he possesses. It's a swing he learnt watching tutorials on YouTube and one that is being fine-tuned by Arjuna Awardee coach Nonita Lall Quresh in Delhi.

Shubham who grows a few inches with each passing birthday has won innumerable trophies and his father, Jagpal, who shifted from Haryana to Delhi, confessed they had to buy a new shelf to put that silverware!

Not new to publicity
He has been written about in papers, photographed with film stars Jackie Shroff and Anil Kapoor; been on TV shows including one with Aamir Khan and hugged by Major champions like Gary Player. Shubham has become a poster boy for the Golf Foundation run by former Asian Games gold medallist, Amit Luthra and he sits on stages alongside celebrities. But for his age and size, you may not even realise he is still kid – the age at which we mollycoddle them at home.

Shubham Jaglan, Jackie Shroff and Anil Kapoor
Shubham Jaglan, Jackie Shroff and Anil Kapoor 

There lies the danger. Too much competition, too much attention and too many expectations have a way of snatching away from young kids, a childhood that will never return. The body structure, the swing and much else changes with age and 10 years is just the beginning of growth for a sapling that hopes to become an Oak in the future.

Remember Shivin?
Golf itself has a few examples. Some disappeared, some still linger and then some still have a chance. Some 15 years ago, there used to be a prodigious Shivin Kwatra, a contemporary of Shiv Kapur — he went on to play in US College, but never quite featured on pro tours; then there was Viraat Bahdwar, a young lad from South Delhi's tony colony East of Kailash, who won numerous trophies before reaching double figures in age – he also won a few trophies at World Junior events. His family migrated to Australia and now he plays on the Stanford University team – where Tiger Woods, too, played.

At home...
Still at home are Raghav Wahi, once a prodigy around the age of 10-12 and became a pro way ahead of time and now at 25 it almost 10 years since he first play pro golf – he turned amateur in between before returning to pro ranks, but by no means is a front runner. Shubhankar Sharma, now 18, has featured in headlines since the age of 13-14, but only now is he making some headway – he turned pro at 15 and made a Top-5 in Asian Tour event last year.

Each case is different. A bit of an 'extra' push by parents; the love for media attention and the lure of dreams of being the next Tiger Woods took away bits of their childhood. These young talents never really became what everyone else expected to be. Some don't even play golf any more than on weekends. Please, let them be children first, golfers next.

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