Fighting adversities, Vani Kapoor biding for her time in the spotlight

The only Indian to hold a full card on the Ladies European Tour this season, golfer Vani Kapoor tells Sportstar the difficulties in being a golf pro in India.

Vani Kapoor will take part in the Ladies European Tour for the second consecutive year   -  Facebook @VaniKapoor


She turned professional in 2012 but Vani Kapoor had been making waves on the Indian women's golf circuit even before that. But, despite being one of the senior pros on the tour, the Gurugram girl has often slipped under the radar. Her topping the Order of Merit on the Indian tour for three consecutive years – 2014 to 2016 – notwithstanding, Vani's consistency has often been overshadowed. To her credit, the 23-year old has not let it affect her game.

Sportstar caught up with the only Indian to hold a full card on the Ladies European Tour this season – Sharmila Nicolett is the other Indian on a sponsor's card while Aditi Ashok is playing on the LPGA – ahead of the Jabra Ladies Open in France to find out her plans going ahead from here, the difficulties in being a golf pro in India and what needs to be done.

Q. This is your second consecutive year on the LET. How prepared are you compared to last year?

A. Last year gave me a lot of experience. I made quite a few cuts and I am going with the attitude of having learnt a lot, knowing that I can maybe even get a few high finishes, a few top-20 results and looking forward to it going with a positive attitude.

How different has been the experience of being on the European Tour vis-a-vis the Indian tour, where you have consistently been among the top pros all these years?

The India tour is my comfort zone. I always have my confidence high. The European Tour, on the other hand, is very new to me. I am still settling into it and the conditions there are so different. It's much cooler -- I can take the heat on but am not so used to playing in colder countries -- plus it's super windy, again not conditions we get here and I am preparing myself for that. That’s something only experience teaches you, I struggled a lot last year with the ball movement etc. But, I went to Australia (training with Ian Triggs) earlier this year and was happy with the way I played.

How do Indian courses differ from the ones on the LET?

The plus point I would say about playing here is that most Indian courses are quite narrow. There, the fairways are so wide and I am an accurate hitter so I know I am going to get it. Maybe 2-3 courses throughout the season could be comparable but not much. You will find your way to the greens even if you are not a great hitter. Here, holding the angles is very important. There are tree-lines and bushes everywhere so you need to be accurate. There, it is more about your scoring ability and shooting low numbers.

What is your training schedule like, both in off season and ahead of tournaments?

I believe there are no shortcuts to success and the more I work hard, the more confident I get. I need to be out for those many hours and hit those many balls; I am a machine throughout the day. Before tournaments, I play a lot more on the course to see what my scores are likely to be and what are the areas to work on. Right now, I am not too confident of my chipping so I am working a lot on that before leaving.

Vani Kapoor during the Hero Women's Pro Golf Tour at Clover Greens near Bengaluru last year   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

How do you react to the fact that you have never really been considered a big golfing hope in India despite your successes even as others seem to enjoy the spotlight?

I believe Vani Kapoor is meant to be there and her time will come. Everyone has their time and I am sure mine will come. I think I am that good substance which is gong to be around for a long time, I have some qualities including a strong character and I know I will not fade away so soon. Time is important, may be I am taking a bit longer according to others but I am making my basics so strong, it will be pretty hard to wipe me off.

What is your strongest quality?

My mind. Golf has taught me a lot and I have learnt more from my experiences than anything else. Plus, my coach Anitya Chand has played a very vital role in what I am today, because my parents are very soft. If I was like them, people would have crushed me and gone away. They don’t really know how to handle difficult situations. But, when you are in a professional sport, specially a sport with so much politics and bullying and all the stuff – you cannot be a punching bag. I know where to draw a line, how to handle myself.

Can you list a few of those experiences?

Not anything particular. But, when I started, the Delhi Golf Club and Bangalore were the hub. Most of the kids were from there and I was the first to come out from DLF as a threat to players from DGC. They had a very strong group so there was a lot of bullying and politics; everything that could happen has happened and I have been through it and cried over it. But, I have learnt to stand on my feet, not depend on anyone else around. I have always been isolated, I have a wall around me that no one can enter and that’s made me very strong, made me realise I don’t need people around me. That said, when I go outside I am a very happy-go-lucky person, we all have fun on tours.

The government doesn't really consider golfers for financial support except in exceptional cases like the Rio Olympics. Your take on it.

I guess golfers need support the most and I hope that thought of being an elite sport changes soon. Everyone's been trying and the more people go out and achieve things -- like SSP Chawrasia or Anirban Lahiri or Aditi Ashok – maybe we can get government attention that it's not easy. It is quite expensive still for a normal person to start despite the fact that there are a few public courses now. I was lucky I had DLF and Callaway from the start; I don’t think I would have played golf if I didn't have them. Because, after a point, you need to push yourself and then the funds crunch starts.


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