Golf: Suraj Tamang looks jittery. He is worried about his next shot. If he putts the ball in, he makes a par. He breathes a sigh of relief. He successfully completes his fifth par in the opening game of the India House golf tournament yesterday.
The 21-year-old who started as a caddy in 2006 is today an amateur golfer at the India House Golf Course. This is his second time taking part in the tournament.
Suraj’s group has other potential players with more experience in the game than him. However, he managed to take the second position at the end of the first day. “Today was not the best game I played. But the other players were also struggling to putt,” he said. “I am not satisfied with my performance today but hopefully I can make it into the finals.”
Ziwang Gurung who topped the group said that the tournament this year is comparatively tougher then the previous ones. He said that the greens (the area where the pin [hole] lies) are very fast meaning the balls roll faster than normal.
“The pin-positioning is illegal. Internationally, pins are usually placed on a flat surface but here it is placed on slopes,” said Ziwang. “Everyone is struggling. The competition is more challenging and frustrating at times when you miss simple putts.”
The councillor of the Embassy of India, Raghav Prasad Bhatnager said that every course has its own challenges but it is important to set a level playing field for all the players. “This is a challenging course because it requires relatively higher degree of precision and is slightly less-forgiving as compared to the other courses.”
The India House Golf Tournament is today considered one of the most challenging tournaments in Bhutan. Yet, given the ambiance at the course, the councillor added that the competition is more relaxing then any other courses in the country.
Started in the early 1990’s, the tournament over the years has grown in popularity and scale and has become one of the most awaited sporting events for all golf enthusiasts in the country.
“This is not just a golf tournament but it is a weeklong festival to commemorate two special occasions: The Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo and the coronation celebration of His Majesty The King,” said the councillor adding that the event also epitomised the friendship between the two countries.
Compared to the past competitions, the tournament this year saw the most number of participations both in the senior and junior categories, which was held on October 22. About 180 golfers are taking part in the five-day competition.
“We are delighted to see such unprecedented response from the players,” said the councillor. “The game is already popular among the Bhutanese. We want to encourage more young players to take up golf.”
The first three days of the competition will be preliminary rounds from where top golfers will be selected to play the finals on November 4 and 5.