Golfing addicts

The Captain’s ritual… Saam Chinoy drives the ball across the Adyar River after taking charge of the Addicts Golfing Society of Southern India.-

The Addicts Golfing Society of Southern India, established in 1949, is the oldest active society of its kind in the world.

During prohibition in the then Presidency of Madras in 1948, a liquor permit could be obtained by producing a certificate from a doctor declaring addiction to alcohol. R. C. Paterson, ‘Fat Pat’ to friends, addicted to golf as much to liquor, found the thought of the 19th hole restricted to lemonade unbearable. Therefore Paterson, along with L. D. Miller, W. P. Blakeslay, A. B. Spence, T. B. Lawrence and J. Jackson, formed the Addicts Golfing Society of Southern India on June 1, 1949. The society’s crest is modelled on an actual palm tree leaning somewhat drunkenly by the fairway of the third hole at Guindy in Chennai. And the underlying motto is: ‘Easy does it.’

Featured on BBC’s Channel Four as the oldest active society of its kind in the world, it is led by a Captain, the Scribe and Council. The sit-down dinner for 200 guests at its annual general meeting (AGM), adhering strictly to a dress code of dinner jackets or lounge suits, begins with toasts to the President of India, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews and lastly to the society’s well-being.

Till 1965, official ties and scarves were imported from Austin Reed of the United Kingdom. Among trophies it owns are the Johnnie Walker Challenge Cup, donated by John Walker and Sons and the Players Bowl, gifted by John Player & Sons.

Saam Chinoy, the current Captain, says the society has spread to nine cities, 11 courses (without one of its own) and competed in Thailand and Dubai. To mark 60 years of its existence, members will tee off at St. Andrews, Scotland, the Mecca of golf, in July.

* * * Ric's suggestion

V. SUDERSHAN

There isn’t a better man than Ric Charlesworth to resurrect Indian hockey. An astute observer of the game, eloquent communicator and master strategist, the 55-year-old Australian has worn many hats with ease.

Only a few months into his role as the Technical Advisor for the Indian Hockey Federation, Charlesworth has started to observe and understand the way the sport is run in the country. With a diary and a pen in his hand, he gets ready to jot down notes from the press box much before the start of the second hockey Test between India and Belgium.

Always willing to share his ideas, Charlesworth was quick to hint at the need for a specialised coach for goalkeepers. “It is an important position,” he says. “You should cover every base and in international sport, there is no room for complacency.”

Recalling the stellar role played by the former Dutch custodian, Ronald Jansen, in the Netherlands’ triumph at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 1998 Utrecht World Cup, Charlesworth points out that both the time it was Spain versus the Netherlands in the final.

While Charlesworth says he is not sure whether the Dutch teams mentioned above had a goalkeeper trainer, he maintains that it will definitely help the talented, up and coming custodians who have the drive to perform well.

* * * Giving back to the game

M. A. SRIRAM

Tennis is alive and kicking in Mysore. The city of palaces had long been considered a nursery of young talent in Karnataka and the tradition lives on as former players strive to give back what they got from the game. Centres such as the Mysore Tennis Club and Nagaraj Tennis Centre have long been in the forefront of producing young champions, and joining the list is Raghuveerm (in pic), the former state champion who has a spanking new tennis facility spre ad over two acres at the foothills of the picturesque Chamundi Hills.

Raghuveer Tennis Centre hosted the AITA Championship Series recently. A state champion in 1986, Raghuveer spent close to two decades in the US and worked with the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy and the Ivan Lendl Academy. He later became a pro trainer with Jefferson Valley Racquet Club in New York and then was part owner of Hardscrabble Club. He was instrumental in producing quite a few Ivy League and NCAAA champions.

Raghuveer returned home in 2004 and after a brief stint with MTC began building his own facility for coaching. His tennis centre has eight well laid out clay courts with a solid and even bounce which makes playing a pleasure.

Raghuveer has invested close to Rs. 85 lakhs in the project and the result is well worth the effort. A few more additions to the infrastructure like a gallery, changing rooms and a lounge should make RTC a big draw. “I know all that would make this a dream centre, but it also needs a lot of sponsorship and what we have done so far is through my own funds,” said Raghuveer. He is hoping for generous funding from the corporates to complete his dream project.

* * * A lesson well learnt

R. RAGU

Akash Wagh has been struggling to come to grips with playing in both the junior and the men’s competitions at the same time. A bright youngster training at the Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Centre in Bangalore, Akash did have good matches against Dmitry Tursunov of Russia and Davide Sanguinetti of Italy in the last two editions of the Kingfisher Open ATP Tour event in Mumbai. However, the talented left-hander had precious little to show otherwise, perhaps because he was struggling to cope with the injuries he had suffered.

After a string of good matches, Akash was unable to goad himself on against fellow-trainee Sudanwa Sitaram in the ITF Grade II junior tournament in Gurgaon recently. He merely went through the motions, failing to win a game after being 4-4 in the first set.

“What is the consequence?” Doug MacCurdy, the man who has taken up the task of fine-tuning Indian tennis, asked coach M. Balachandran.

Balu tried to explain Akash’s mood swings to the chief guest of the morning in a polite conversation, but made sure that his ward did not miss the lesson.

To the coach’s credit, and the ability of the youngster to grasp the point, Akash went on to beat Sudanwa in the repeat final in Kolkata the following week.

While Yuki Bhambri, aged 15, has been able to work hard and make the semifinals of the Australian Open junior event despite limited support, it is a pity that talented youngsters with all the resources at their disposal are struggling to make an impact on the world stage.