From hockey turf to golf greens, Dilip Tirkey gets swinging

For someone who was ‘The Wall of Indian hockey’ for long, Dilip Tirkey is now exploring the greens on a golf course with the same passion he had displayed playing hockey.

Something new: Dilip Tirkey, who has switched over to golf, says he is now hooked on to it.   -  V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

For someone who was ‘The Wall of Indian hockey’ for long, 42-year-old Dilip Tirkey is now exploring the greens on a golf course with the same passion he had displayed with a hockey stick with such distinction.

“Yes, a couple of years ago my friends told me to try my hand in golf in Bhubaneswar on a nine-hole course. The first experience got me hooked to the sport. I am really enjoying this,” the former India captain told Sportstar in an exclusive chat at the Hyderabad Golf Club course where he is playing his first major in the PGTI circuit - Golconda Masters championship.

“Here also you have to target the ball and I feel it is all about swinging (the club) to perfection which I used to do with a hockey stick as a penalty-corner specialist,” he said.

How is the course here? “The greens look fabulous, the course has everything a golfer looks for including the ‘hill’. It is an amazing course,” said Tirkey.

“Definitely, I am planning to take specialised coaching and try my hand for the next one year in golf. Then, I will decide on my future in this sport. Right now, I feel I can make it big here,” he said.

Strong contenders

Reflecting on Indian hockey, Tirkey feels that Indian men and women’s teams are strong medal contenders in the coming Olympics for the simple reason they now have the confidence of beating anyone in the world.

“This can be the key and they have been really doing well in the recent past and that long medal drought should end in Olympics this year,” said an optimistic triple Olympian.

“I am glad that Odisha has transformed into a major sporting State thanks to the initiative of our Chief Minister Naveen Patnaikji,” says the veteran with 412 international appearances.

“It is not just hockey in which Odisha which is looking up. Bhubaneshwar itself is now the major sports hub which I didn’t honestly expect it would be. We have high performance centres of Tata, Navy. Gagan (shooting), Gopi (badminton) have set up their centres of excellence. Things are looking up for sports now,” he concluded.

  Dugout videos