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Golf is one sport where you need to be well dressed - Uttam Singh Mundy

One of the top amateurs in India early in his career, Uttam Singh Mundy turned professional in 1992. Mundy, whose home course is the Delhi Golf Club, was a regular on the Asian Tour. His domestic titles include two wins each at the Honda Siel PGA and the Surya Nepal Masters, as well as wins at the BPGC Open, Meerut Open and The Hindu Open, among others. He is currently the Director of the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).

For how many years have you played on the PGTI and what were your most memorable achievements?

I have been playing on tour since “92 as a pro and played till 2008. Of course the most memorable part of your golfing career always is your first win which for me was the PGI Championship of India which is the Honda Series where I won a car as well so you know that always is very firmly itched in my memory.

Which current Indian player do you find the most promising among the men and the women in India?

It’s very difficult to pin point one particular player but there are a number of youngsters now who are trying to make a mark on international soil. A number of them are playing on the Asian Tour, so we have a number of players who I think in the next couple of years should be a prominent faces for golf on the world map. Every year we have a batch of youngsters who are turning pro who are joining the pro ranks and you know that’s good for the sport because that’s what we need, we need a wider base and we need a lot more pros trying to make a mark on the Asian Tour, European Tour, etc. so yes I think it’s coming of age.

Where do you see the PGTI in five years down the line?

I think in the next five years there should be a big transformation as far as Indian golf is concerned as professional golf is a bigger sport now. Earlier the Asian Games and other events were always for amateurs so it’s a good change that the best golfers in the world get to compete at the Olympics. We had 2 of our top ranked players which were of course selected on their world ranking, they played and represented India in the Olympics. 

Seeing that, we definitely see a change coming about in the next couple of years. There will be a lot of encouragement even from the government which is very much required considering the fact that it’s an Olympic sport. I guess the government would want the infrastructure to improve and of course a lot more programs to be running. In the next five years once that happens, the momentum will be building up. We are looking at getting more sponsorship for players which means a lot more tournaments, more playing opportunities for players, a better platform for them to perform on, all of that will somehow lead to a better destination for all players.

Has the government begun implementing some of the changes?

Yes, there are subtle changes probably being put into place, it’s always a little slow, I’m sure that they have been making changes with the Indian Golf Union which is of course the Amateur Federation and we are also in turn waiting for some moves to happen as far professional is concerned.

How difficult is it to get sponsors for the tours?

Well, it’s not that easy at the moment and especially with the economic scenario, the way it has been the last few years, it is a little tough and it’s not gotten any better this year. However, we are looking at a better year next year and I hope things do change for the better which would only enable us to get more sponsors on board.

Does the PGTI have any plans to promote golf at the grass root level?

We do have plans but they are not yet implemented. We are just trying to have a robust tour of our own. Once we have enough events in place, we have to give more opportunities to our players, which is our main concern at the moment. Ultimately we would like to have a course which is dedicated for the PGTI, where we have all our players playing on the course, practicing on the course. So, of course one looks at that but yes I’m sure in due course of time things would change.

Does the PGTI have any plans to have a player welfare fund?

Yes, we have spoken about it and we may look into that, yes.

You were believed to be the best dressed golfer in the news. Tell us something about fashion in golf.

Well it’s nice to hear that! But now of course I’m not playing golf. Golf is one sport where you need to be well dressed, of course it cannot be a total contrast and the clothes have to be well matched. Most of the golfers, whether the European or the US Tour, you see the colors that come out on the golf course, that’s the kind of colors that we talk about coming especially for this sport. I see that happening even on our tour as well, a lot of golfers in fact most of them do come out in bright colors. Things are changing as far as any sense of dressing and fashion on our tour is concerned. Gone are the drab days of greys, blacks and whites, now a lot more colors are being sported with matching belts, shoes and caps along with reflectors. 

How would you handle your fan following? Given that you were really popular on the pro and amateur tours?

Well I never had an issue with fan following, I love my fans. I loved playing in front of people, I enjoyed playing in front of people, I played probably my best when I had a crowd watching. And I think a lot of people like it, they enjoy that they get to showcase their skills, so yes I think it’s not that tough to handle.

How is being in contention in a tournament different from the pressures of managing the PGTI?

I think they are both different. When I was in contention it was solely for myself. It is in individual sport so I would play for myself. And sometimes things do not materialize for some reason or the other and there are times that the pressure gets the better of you then you have no one to blame but yourself. 

The other side of the job is not just for myself, it is for the entire golfing fraternity and all the professionals that are playing, so I can’t let pressure get the better of me, it has to be the other way round.

Why do you think that golf was included in the Olympics now and what do you think led to that decision?

I think this was brought up by the US Tour and was initiated by the Head of R&A as well who at the time was Mr. Peter Dawson and they had put up the letter and a lot of professionals had voted for it and that is how the whole thing started and fortunately yes, I’m happy and glad that it has become an Olympic sport after what I think is 112 years or something.

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