His love for golf is well known as is his prowess on the golfing greens. Quite fittingly, legendary cricketer Kapil Dev was, on Monday, inducted as one of the board members of the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), the sports body said.
"Kapil has been a keen golfer. I have known him for many years now. He will help the game grow in the country," said another legend Jeev Milkha Singh while welcoming the former Indian captain to the PGTI, of which Singh is a founding member. "For me, his passion for the game, the experience he can share, will guide us and open doors for us."
Describing the cricket legend as a "person with a vision", Uttam Singh Mundy, CEO of the PGTI, said, "We are looking forward to the insights that we will get from him."
Kapil reiterated that at the moment he is not looking for any position in PGTI but would rather focus on behind-the-scenes work like garnering more attention from sponsors and investors and making golf more popular in the country. His formal inclusion into the board was made while announcing a new tournament—Prometheus School Delhi-NCR Open Golf Championship 2021, to be held from March 16-19 at the Golden Greens Golf Club in Gurgaon.
The 1983 World Cup-winning captain said he would look to convince corporates to associate and invest in Indian golf. "I want to convince corporates that golf is a beautiful life. Come to golf. In India, at present, there are more than 500 corporate golf events taking place. Why can't they (corporates) then look after golf?"
Talking about the talent and interest among youngsters for golf now, Dev said he wants to ensure that golf is a paying sport for those who take it up professionally. "There are presently more than 200 scratch golfers in our country below the age of 22. I want kids to talk about golf."
A scratch golfer is "a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses".
Kapil said there is a need to focus on all sports. “I have played cricket but I must say that we should look after all sports and not just cricket. People say today 'look what IPL is doing for cricket'. Same should one day be said about PGTI too."
There is a sense that the PGTI needs a shot of energy and effort in terms of sponsorship and expansion of events. No doubt 2020 has been a tough year due to COVID-19, with no competitive golf happening for over a year. Jeev, however, praised its efforts to resume competitive golf post lockdown. "There are only two places where golf is happening at present—the PGA Tour and the European tour. Since PGA is in one country, it has been manageable. European Tour has had some events in trouble. In Asia, there has been no tournaments. PGTI has done an excellent job to start tournaments. Players have had the opportunity to play, compete and earn money."
Mundy, meanwhile, admitted that there was a need to keep adding certain number of events to the PGTI calendar. He attributed it to "corporate slowdown, with companies having a tough time, and pulling out of sponsorships. The numbers [of events] has remained the same. We have added two new events and are looking to add a few more this year."