When the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) announced the introduction of six new tournaments for the remaining 2016 season last week, Chandigarh golfer Ajeetesh Sandhu was hopeful of finding his home course’s name in the calendar. However, he was left with utter disappointment after he found that PGTI has once again left out the Chandigarh Golf Club (CGC) from its list of venues. Ironically, it has been close to three years since the golf club- established in 1962- has hosted a PGTI event.
“It’s always a sad situation for youngsters like us as we do not get a chance to play on our home turf. I remember when I was a kid, I saw golfer Amritender Singh winning three consecutive tournaments at CGC and it was a huge thing for us watching him play. Definitely, it’s an advantage playing at one’s home course and it also means that we miss out on playing at a golf hole designed by Jeev Milkha Singh,” shared the 27-year-old Sandhu who is currently lying at third spot with an earnings of Rs 11, 24,808 in the PGTI order of Merit.
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While the CGC would be a regular for hosting PGTI events in the 1990s and 2000s, the last five years has seen a steep decline. While places like Mewat in Haryana and Panchkula got a chance to host PGTI Players Championships, the CGC, which has more than 1,800 members, hosted its last PGTI event in September 2013. Notably, international golfers like Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa also played at the club that year. Professional golfer Sujjan Singh, who has also played on the Asian Tour, believes that the situation is disappointing. “I believe the condition of the course have not been great. Apart from maintenance issues there is lack of consistency of playing conditions. There are not many chipping areas for players and the fact that professional golfers are not allowed to compete for committee positions hurts the club. In 2013, even Jeev Milkha Singh played to support his home club. Also some of the clubs do not charge capitation fee from PGTI,” said Singh.
While CGC does host few tournaments like IGU ladies tour and junior tour, PGTI has no plans to introduce any tournament this year. Interestingly, three Chandigarh golfers are in top-15 in the Order of Merit list this year.”We have not got sponsors’ interest for events at Chandigarh Golf Club. Even arranging a PGTI players championship need sponsors and it’s unfortunate that there have been no sponsors, who have come forward. Our calendar consists of more than 18 tournaments and if we get a response we can organise players championship next year,” informed Uttam Singh Mundi, president of PGTI.
Earlier this month, the Punjab and Haryana High Court also directed the Chandigarh Golf Club to reply on the issue of lease rent dispute with Chandigarh administration. “PGTI has not been getting sponsors for the events. We want the golfers to come and compete here and we are ready to cancel the capitation fee for the such tournaments. At Panchkula, the Haryana government supports the club while we do not get any support from the UT administration in this regard,” said IPS Mann, president of Chandigarh Golf Club.