The beginning of a new era for Nepal golf

Kathmandu, June 1:

I have not missed a single edition of the Surya Nepal Masters since 2002. Apart from the love of the game, it is the hospitality of Nepal that brings me here and I have grabbed any opportunities that came my way to visit Nepal. I would secretly yearn for the day when a player from Nepal would hold aloft the trophy and I would have a nice story to write about. And last year Deepak Thapa Magar not only realised every Nepali’s dream but paved the way for a new beginning for golf.

The win inspired 10 more players to turn pros and there must be many on the way. The win in a way acted as a catalyst to form a regular Golf Tour, thanks to corporate support from Surya Nepal who have adopted the Nepal Professional Golfers Association’s Surya Nepal Golf Tour.

Having read and seen about the formation India’s successful PGAI Tour from 1995 to 2006, Nepal is at the same stage of history as its neighbour and has turned a complete circle. The Surya Nepal Masters used to be a regular event on the Indian circuit. Today the event is under the aegis of the NPGA and the majority of the field is from India. A good professional circuit supported by Surya Nepal for the first time in the history of Nepal has helped in the systematic conduct of the tournaments while also helping in honing enough talent that can be sustained. The clear signs could be seen in just the three tournaments held during the current season of the Surya Nepal Golf Tour and this only the shape of things to come in the future.

On the corporate sponsorship front, the list is being updated by the day as more and more of them are realising the value of golf sponsorship and I presume that Nepal golf will be benefited hugely from their contribution as it is the corporate support that will take the game to greater heights.

Today the US PGA Tour is worth over $260m and has a waiting period of at least two years to sponsor an event. The other lucrative Tours include the European Tour, the Japanese Tour and the Asian Tour. No doubt that golf today has changed its image from being a recreational sport to a serious career option. Although the upcoming Surya Nepal Masters will give the local players a chance to rub shoulders with the some of the best players from the SAARC region, now is the time for the Nepali pros to venture out and taste the experience of competition on foreign shores. I am sure this will be possible soon going by the increase in the number of tournaments and the prize .

With the performances of Nepalis at both the domestic and international level coupled with corporate sponsorship being encouraging to say the least, the game is skyrocketing and this is just the beginning!

Sayeed is Director, Tiger Sports and is writing exclusively for The Himalayan Times