The controversy involving golfer Rashid Khan took a new turn on Monday with the DGC President Major Ravinder Singh Bedi (retd) claiming that people associated with the Club have been issued “death threats” by the “gang” which was refused entry along with ‘banned’ Rashid Khan on Saturday.
Rashid has alleged that he was a victim of discrimination by the Delhi Golf Club (DGC), which did not let him and others practice on Saturday, though, they were willing to pay the required green fees (for non-members).
Bedi made it clear that Rashid was not part of the gang, which has threatened people associated with the Club but did assert that he has been banned on grounds of indiscipline.
Rashid and nine other caddie-turned-golfers were detained by the police and taken to Tughlaq Road police station for questioning on Saturday after being denied permission to enter the Club.
“There have been death threats from them. They have called some people of DGC and issued death threats. They said they have criminal minds. We have submitted the call records to the police. Can you allow such people inside the club? There is a physical threat to me as well,” Bedi told PTI, rejecting Rashid’s discrimination claims.
“Rashid went to the court against DGC, brought disrepute to the club by badmouthing at a press conference and also had a scuffle with a security guard here in January, so he was banned from the Club,” Bedi said.
The DGC President said a recent incident prompted him to call police on Saturday.
“I had lodged a written complaint with the police against this gang on May 19. Rashid was not there but the others stopped my car from going out for 3-4 hours. They sat on the gates. I am a senior citizen but they didn’t consider, so I called the police and they were taken away.
“In the light of this incident, when Rashid along with this gang came last Saturday and tried to get in saying they will pay green fees, they were refused entry. They sat with their bags at the gate. It was then I called up the police again.”
Bedi said there was no discrimination against anyone and the staff’s children are inducted in multiple junior programs to play at DGC.
“Rashid was picked up similarly as a kid and was supported. Someone perhaps misguided him to get a membership in the club but for any one to seek a membership one has to apply. Without even applying you can’t say that give me a membership because I am a top golfer.”
The DGC membership has three levels: A, B and C.
A person is inducted in the ‘C’ level only if an ‘A’ member dies but a ‘C’ member is not permitted to play in the 18-hole main course.
In fact, a ‘B’ member is also not permitted to play in main course in winters unless he is accompanied by three A members.
Rashid has said that not being able to practice at DGC will affect his Olympic dreams.
“I have a great chance to make the Indian team for Olympics. With the PGTI season starting soon and also big events coming up on the Asian Tour, I need to train and practice. But I am not allowed at DGC,” he has said.
The DGC president said Rashid has a lot of option now that he is a top golfer.
“He is now earning a seven figure income. He has many options to play. He can practice at the Noida Golf course or Qutub etc. If you want to be a top golfer, you should be ready to play in different courses and conditions.”
Rashid has claimed that DGC had stopped allowing caddie-turned-players from practising at the course since 2012, thus ruining careers of golfers coming from humble backgrounds.
Bedi said: “Some golfers were not allowed in the last few years because they didn’t feature in the yearly list which DGC comes up with depending on their performance. But they forcibly used to enter and play at the course. They had no playing rights and so I stopped them.”
Many golfers want the DGC to implement the government’s decision to have 10 percent reservations for all sports persons.
Bedi said it has been an unresolved issue with the government.
“Govt already has 20% reservation, so if they want us to introduce the 10 per cent reservation for sports persons then it has to be done from this 20 percent It is not possible to accommodate otherwise. It would be unfair to the thousands of people who have applied for membership,” he said.
“If government wants to nominate a sports person then it is different. The government also need to lay down criteria.”
Situated on a public land, the DGC runs on government lease, which was extended by 28 years in 2012.
“The land is on lease but it is not free, we are paying the government, so we have the right to control, who practices and run the club according to the rules laid down,” Bedi said.
Rashid gets support from Shamim, Mukesh; top golfers refuse to comment
Rashid Khan has been left isolated with renowned Indian golfers steering clear of the controversy, a day after the two-time Asian Tour champion was detained by police for trying to enter the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) here.
Rashid and nine other caddie-turned-golfers were detained and taken to Tuqhlaq Road police station for questioning after they tried to enter DGC to practice on Saturday.
The 28-year-old from Delhi on Sunday alleged that the DGC is discriminating against golfers from humble background. He even threatened to quit the sport and give up his Olympic dream if the club doesn’t allow him to use its facilities.
While Rashid received the support of two-time European Tour champion Shubhankar Sharma and domestic regulars Shamim Khan and Mukesh Kumar, former Asian tour winners like Jyoti Randhawa, SSP Chawrasia and Gaganjeet Bhullar decided not to comment on the issue.
“I don’t want to comment anything. I don’t have the whole picture, I dont know what is happening. I don’t know what was discussed between Rashid and DGC officials, so I would rather not comment,” Randhawa told PTI.
Chawrasia, who is playing in Denmark, said: “I don’t know exactly what happened. I am not from Delhi so I never had such issues. Some players are playing while some are having issues apparently. So it is a thing between players and DGC. There is a system in place and hope it gets sorted.”
Professional Golf Tour of India CEO Uttam Singh Mundy also said it is a one-off case and the body cannot interfere.
“I can’t comment on that because I don’t know what happened from either side, whether it is Rashid or DGC,” he said.
“It is an individual thing and association can’t get involved in it because everyone has individual rights and I have no idea about it. It is an issue between the players and club members. We don’t have all the details of all the players on an individual basis.”
However, Shubhankar said he was extremely sad and distressed after learning about the story.
“Golfers like Rashid who are champions and represented India, if they don’t have access to the club then what would happen to the other talented golfers. DGC shouldn’t come across as a club for the elite. Golfers who made India proud should be their first priority,” Sharma said.
“I don’t want DGC to change its norms, neither do I want that golfers to get away if they break rules. But there should be a proper communication and it can be sorted,” he added.
Putting his weight behind Rashid, Mukesh, a 2016 Panasonic Open India champion, claimed he too was not allowed to enter inside the DGC recently.
“I was also not allowed entry when I had gone there recently after playing in Chandigarh. I thought may be because of the fight with others, I was also not given entry,” he said.
“Whatever is happening is wrong. They have worked as caddies at DGC and then achieved glory as a player. Players need to be given the right to practice,” said Mukesh, who practices at Mhow Golf Course.
“It is a problem with only DGC, no other club in the country stops players from practising. If it continues it will affect golf.”
Shamim Khan, a two-time winner of the PGTI Order of Merit, said there is no respect for the professionals who had started their career as a caddie at the DGC.
“This issue has been going on for two years now. The caddies who became professionals don’t have any respect despite playing the sports for so long. Now they are playing politics, allowing some while discriminating against others,” he said.
“In January, we all were banned from DGC, so I have not been going to DGC for last five months. Then they came up with another list in April where they included me. They are coming with many rules every now and then.”