Padamjit Sandhu, the Director of the Professional Golf Tour of India, has praised the Gujarat Kensville Challenge and its role in the recent success of golf in India, saying he hopes to bring more Challenge Tour events to the shores of the world’s fastest-growing golfing nation.
The sport is currently booming in Sandhu’s home country, fuelled by the recent emergence of players such as SSP Chowrasia, Shiv Kapur and Jyoti Randhawa.
India also produced its first Challenge Tour winner at last year’s inaugural Gujarat Kensville Challenge in Gaganjeet Bhullar.
Despite watching Rahil Gangjee miss out on making it back-to-back Indian winners at Kensville Golf and Country Club in January, as he narrowly lost out in a play-off to Germany’s Max Kieffer, Sandhu was still delighted at the success of the tournament.
“I think the Gujarat Kensville Challenge is a really good event, played over a great course and we only ever get a good response from players about it,” said Sandhu. “It’s been a really positive tournament for us and something we are looking forward to continuing.
“I think the course, and how it’s set up, shows you that there are really serious golf people behind the tournament. It’s a tough course but a real challenge.
“The people at Kensville are also very serious people in the field of resorts and businesses of that sort and they know the importance of having a big tournament like a Challenge Tour event to hold up a resort like Kensville.
“Of course, it would have been nice for Rahil to win; I would say that because I’m Indian. But at the end of the day I think we had a really good winner. For us it’s always a case of ‘may the best man win’ and you cannot argue that Max Kieffer was the best player that week.”
Nonetheless, Gangjee gave the home crowds something to cheer about as he led the field for the first three days, while Shiv Kapur joined him as overnight leader on the second day.
Success on the international stage has made Indian golf’s rapid rise to prominence all the more apparent and such success will only make the appeal of the game in India grow further, believes Sandhu.
“There are some really good young guys coming through and it’s important that we have these international tournaments to give them a chance to make that breakthrough,” he continued.
“When Indian players start winning or putting themselves in winning positions it starts a trend where the young guys have somebody to look up to and they can say, ‘hey, if these guys can do it why can’t I?’
“Of the five international tournaments in India last year, there were three Indian winners, with SSP Chowrasia winning The European Tour event, so they have shown they can compete.”
It is that kind of momentum which has seen India develop into such a strong golfing nation and Sandhu hopes to expand the number of international tournaments held in the country to eight in the next four years.
“There has already been some interest from sponsors with a view to having another Challenge Tour event in India and I think it would be great for us to have another tournament,” he said.“We think we have all the components so it’s just a case of getting the right dates, which is always difficult as our summers are too hot to host golf tournaments, but we will keep working on it to help the development of our game.”