When her Jesus and Mary College classmates are heading to college for an early morning class on Tuesday,18-year-old Vani Kapoor will be traveling to the far end of Gurgaon to tee off amid other professionals at the Golden Greens Golf Club in an attempt to bring another big pay cheque home. Few newbies can hope for such a great start as a professional golfer as Vani has had in playing just three tournaments on the Women’s Pro Golf Tour.
In her first tournament,she challenged two time defending order of merit winner Sharmila Nicollet in a playoff and in the second,she went a step ahead to finish as winner. Though she didn’t enjoy a great outing last week on her home course at DLF Golf & Country Club,she believes her short game is going to flourish again during the sixth leg of the Tour starting Tuesday.
So how is being a professional different for the teenager who had as recently as the 2010 Asian Games represented India? Earning your own money is special. Until I find a sponsor I don’t want to put pressure on my parents so I am saving this money to help my golf career later. Other differences are that earlier Indian Golf Union used to send us for tournaments abroad etc,now I have to fund my own travel and figure out scheduling. Competition is also tougher. In professional sport,every shot can cost you thousands, Vani,who has earned approximately Rs 50,000,says.
The transition from an amateur to a professional can be a tricky one,in which many lose their balance. However,Vani says she was mentally prepared. I had it at the back of my mind for sometime. I had been the No. 1 amateur twice in the last three years,I had represented India at the Queen Sirikit Cup,which is one of the most prestigious in women’s golf. So I wanted to challenge myself more and since playing golf in Asia and Europe was my aim,I thought this will give me a head start.
But things are bound to get tough at times,specially with the balancing act. For example,Vani will be forced to give two semesters of Delhi University examinations together as her December schedule is clashing with the Indian Open. My coach wants me to spend two hours in the gym,my parents want me to attend 9am to 4pm college,and I need time for my studies and make sure I hit 100 golf balls everyday. There are these phases when I wonder if everything will fall in place.
But the sight of winning trophies and leaderboards keeps her spirits up. It was my dream to stand with one of those oversized winners’ cheque and pose for a pic. I am glad I could realise it so early, she adds.
Now Vani has revised her targets upwards. I give myself two years to be the No. 1 on the Indian tour. I am hoping I can break it by end of this season itself. She is looking beyond India as well,as she tees off in the Indonesian Open in October and will be trying to qualify to the European Tour next year.