Set to become first Nepali athlete to qualify and play at one of the most pristine golf venues


Nepali golfer Jaivir Pande is all set to participate in the Drive, Chip and Putt finals at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia next week.

The 15-year-old Pande qualified for the national finals after he finished first in the regional selection tournament at the Alotian Golf Course in Arkansas in October 2019.

The finals, originally scheduled for April 2020, was postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the organisers rescheduled the event for April 4, ahead of the 85th Masters Tournament.

The 10th grader from The Kinkaid School in Texas, Pande will be the first Nepali golfer to play at the Augusta National Golf Club, the sport's one of the most pristine venues, when he takes part in the Drive, Chip and Putt Finals on April 4. He earned the berth in boys' 14-15 years division Finals as the winner of the selection tournament after winning all three competitions - driving, chipping and putting.

"Jaivir certainly believes this is a culmination of many years of hard work for him," his father, Sabra B Pande, told The Himalayan Times.

"He credits the success to his family and draws inspiration from his maternal grandfather, former Chief of the Army Staff Gaurav Shumsher Rana, who is an avid golfer." He added: "At this moment Jaivir is happy that this long anticipation to get to Augusta is almost over and that he has taken the time to practice all aspects of his game and feels ready to compete at the highest level. Moreover, he is excited to putt on the 18th Green at Augusta National and walk the golf course for the Monday practice round."

Pande started playing golf at the age of five with his maternal grandfather, Gaurav SJB Rana, during his visit to Nepal and he later took the sport seriously. He joined the sport through the US Kids Golf programme initially and went on to participate in Southern Texas Jr PGA, Texas Jr Golf and Legends' Tour among others.

"Currently, he plays at the highest level in junior golf in the US with the American Junior golf association (AJGA)," said Pande. "In 2020 he was listed in the top 10 junior golfers in the world for the 2020 season, based on the Rolex AJGA Rankings." After taking part in the event at Augusta, Pande will play in the Western and Southern Jr Amateurs, Texas Amateurs and US Jr Amateurs along with other tournaments with the AJGA.

Founded in 2013, Drive, Chip and Putt is the joint initiative of the Masters Tournament, the US Golf Association and The PGA of America to develop junior golfers. The initiative aims at growing the game by focusing on the three fundamental skills in golf: driving, chipping and putting.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 3, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.