A special table was reserved for Shubham Jaglan just before his return to the pavilion for lunch at the Willingdon Sports Club golf course. And when the 10-year-old finally turned up after playing a few rounds, taller and more experienced figures rose to welcome the prodigy. Standing beside the diminutive Shubham was his father, Jagpal, who simply smiled and shook hands with other golf-enthusiasts gathered there.
A language barrier prohibited him from participating in long conversations his son was often invited to. Yet, mindful of his father’s presence and limitation, Shubham politely switched to Hindi whenever possible, to allow the former milkman to join in.
Jagpal now serves as his son’s caddie. It’s a job that he claims has been very satisfying given his son’s dominance – over 100 titles in his three-year career so far. The pinnacle came in Las Vegas last year, when Shubham won the World Masters of Junior Golf. He finished runner-up in this year’s event, competing in a higher age group.
Trips abroad have been sponsored by veteran golfer Amit Luthra’s Golf Foundation, which also looks after his training at the Delhi Golf Club. And according to the 1982 Asian Games gold medallist, the foreign trips are the reasons for the youngster’s unprecedented maturity. “His father accompanies him on the trips. But Jagpal can’t read or write. So Shubham had to fill in all the immigration forms and even communicate with officials there. That experience put him way ahead of his age. That, of course, helps his golf,” says Luthra.
The first sign of the youngster’s unusual calmness came when Shubham first entered the sport. An NRI, Kapoor Singh set up an academy in the then five-year-old’s village, Israna, near Panipat.
“The academy lasted only two months because there weren’t many people interested. But before he left, he gave me a set of clubs and met my father and told him to make sure I continue. I guess he saw something in me,” says Shubham. Taking forward the idea, the senior Jaglan took his son to compete in events at the Madhuban Golf Course in Karnal. Later, the pair travelled to New Delhi, where rejection in participating at an event — owing to his tender age — brought them in contact with Luthra.
Subsequently, Shubham had his own coach, Nonita Lall Qureshi, and in time, with the support of the Delhi Golf Club and Luthra’s organisation, Shubham’s family moved with him to the capital. His academics have also been taken care off by the Laxman Public School. “I was out of school for eight months because we couldn’t afford it. Then the principal got to know about it and she offered me a spot in the school,” says the sixth grader.