Last year, Shubham Jaglan had to make peace with a runner-up medal at the World Stars of Junior Golf championship in Las Vegas, California. There was no questioning his skill — because that’s what got him to the second position in the first case — not to mention he had already won the event in 2013. What he lacked in the higher age-group event, though, was power in his shots.
This year, with the advantage of experience and greater degree of strength in his arms, the 10-year-old captured his second and third world titles within a space of two weeks. He won the Junior World Golf Championship in San Diego last Sunday, before winning the IJGA World Stars of Junior Golf this week. They serve as marquee events for junior level participants of the sport.
His first elite international triumph came at the World Masters of Junior Golf event two years ago, where he competed in the 7-8 year category. Since then, veteran golfer Amit Luthra has been wary of a possible disadvantage the prodigy may face in terms of power.
“It’s straightforward. The more strength you have, the greater the chance of hitting the ball longer. When he lost last year, there were players who weren’t better than him, but since they were older and had more strength, their shots went longer,” says the 1982 Asian Games gold medallist.
Another concern Luthra holds is the height Shubham will eventually gain. At his age, fitness training is minimal as he has not yet reached puberty.
“When he does in the next few years, he’ll get taller and naturally stronger. But how tall is the question,” says Luthra, who further adds that Shubham’s parents are both short in stature. The leverage presented by an athlete’s height gives the individual greater distance when striking the ball. “That gives the shot extra power. So it’s a big advantage,” he adds.
Not anticipating Shubham to shoot up significantly, Luthra’s Golf Foundation — which looks after the youngster’s training at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) and his foreign trips — has chalked out a strict fitness regime for the athlete once he touches puberty.
In the mean time, Shubham’s father Jagpal has been providing his son assistance in physical training.
Hailing from Israna village near Panipat, Shubham belongs to a family of wrestlers. Jagpal, who used to be a milkman, too was a kushti participant, and has been helping his son develop strength in his lower back, abdomen, thighs and arms through specific exercises.
Shubham’s diet too is looked after by Jagpal. Since moving to the Capital, where Jagpal serves as his son’s caddy, the senior has made it a point to travel to local cowsheds to purchase fresh milk for his son.
Jagpal’s commitment to his son’s endeavours in golf date back to when the then five-year-old was introduced to the sport. A non-resident Indian, Kapoor Singh had set up an academy at the village.
Shubham was among the few who actively participated, and lack of interest from others forced Kapoor to disband the academy two months later. But as a parting gift, Kapoor presented Shubham a set of golf clubs and passed on an encouraging word to Jagpal to ensure the youngster continued in the sport.
Initial training sessions would be in the backyard, 10 yards in length. “We made three holes in the garden. But since it was small, I used to practice only chips and putts there,” Shubham recalls.
Later he moved to NC College’s recreational ground. “That place was 130 yards long so I set myself a target of trying to hit the opposite wall. I kept getting closer, but never managed it and then I moved to Delhi,” he adds.
Getting the right amount of strength to match his peers is something that may affect him till the time he turns 18. “By that age he would be on a par with people who are 21, at least in terms of power and strength. What makes a difference then is his technique and composure,” mentions Luthra.
In Shubham’s case, match sharpness is not something the veteran is worried about. “Indians crack under pressure. They can ace shots during practice, but not when it matters. Shubham winning three world titles already means he has the mentality to stay focused. He’s not a choker,” asserts Luthra.
Shubham’s achievements on the course matches what he manages in the classroom, that too despite missing out eight months worth of education because of financial constraints. The Laxman Public School’s seventh grader maintains an impressive marksheet. Yet, what he does on the golf course is what defines him.