26 September 2019: A lawyer by profession, Amit Khansaheb makes his peace from all the harried negotiation, with a good round of golf. Amit is over the moon at qualifying to play in the World Amateur Golfers Championship in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo in October. Golfing Indian caught up with Amit for an email interview and we had a discussion about his experience as an amateur golfer and what it has meant to him to be associated with the game.
- Tell us about the round of golf that helped you seal a spot at the WAGC.
It was an absolutely dream round. I was playing along with Rishi Narain, who is one of the best players and I guess that motivated me to play the way I did. A gross score of 3 (with a bogey-bogey finish) is an aberrational round to say the least and it is the best round that I have ever played. It started on the 6th hole where I hit a draw on the driver which went through a tree on the right and landed up in the rough about 205 yards to the pin. The thought then was I will probably start the round with a bogey or double bogey but by some miracle, I hit my five iron within 8 feet and got a par. That set the tone for being in the zone throughout the 18 holes and I ended up with 1 double bogey, 5 bogeys, 8 pars and 4 birdies. Completely crazy!!!! All this was preceded by a 75 hour work week with a number of transactions at final stages, and very little sleep. I guess my adrenalin levels were high and kept me going!!
- At what point did you realise that your ticket to Malaysia was in the bag and what it meant to you?
I did not actually know till the very end until the announcement was made. I was cursing myself for having had a bogey on the last two holes and felt “if I lose by one or two strokes, I will shoot myself”. Thankfully, 40 points was the winning score and I’ve forgotten those last two holes since. In terms of what it meant to me, honestly, I knew that that the winner would go to Malaysia but had no idea that it was the World Amateur Golfers Championships. I thought it was another corporate golf event which enables you to travel overseas and play another round or two in an event which would be exciting in itself but probably less relevant than the one in Malaysia. Now that it is what it is, it’s obviously very exciting and quite surreal given that I never thought I’d represent India in another sport. (I had previously represented India in a couple of junior world snooker championships and participated as part of the Indian cue-sports team at the Busan Asian Games in 2002 for 9 ball pool).
- When did you start taking an active interest in golf and what role has the game played in your life?
I moved to Delhi from Mumbai in 2003 and was always intrigued by golf. Started at Ladosarai (Qutab Golf Course) in 2004 and then played for a few years before I developed a pain in my hand which kept me away from golf for about 7 years or so. The pain miraculously vanished somewhere along the way and I restarted golf in 2015 and then took membership at the DLF Golf & Country Club. This was the turning point and I started playing a lot more (primarily on weekends). I was working with BMR Legal at the time and subsequently moved to the Gurgaon office of Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. (SAM & Co.), in June 2017, which coincidentally happens to be right across the road from the entrance to the golf club. Work has been very fulfilling every week with many transactions. What keeps me going is also the exciting possibility of looking forward to playing golf over the weekends. The fulfillment of doing both things well is a different sense of achievement I guess. My life at SAM and the freedom offered to me to operate in the way that we do, has been outstanding and it has given me the opportunity to balance my passion for golf with my professional commitments..
- Do you see a relationship between your professional life and your experiences as a golfer?
I think any sport helps immensely in shaping your approach to life and work. Sport (especially Golf) teaches you etiquette, discipline, respect for opponents, positivity, living up to ethical standards of the game you are playing and generally the ability to test yourself. All of these I think people will agree are incredibly critical even at work and in professional services.
- What are your best golfing memories?
I enjoy golf, period!! And so all experiences associated with golf are happy memories. A few that stand out are trips to Thailand, Dubai and more recently, Latvia where playing on different courses was incredible.
- How are you preparing for the World Amateur Golf Championship in Malaysia?
Nothing very different except to continue playing on the weekends, maybe with a little more focus and purpose. I have a scheduled lesson from Rishi Narain to improve on my chipping which I think is the weakest part of my game. I think that session with Rishi would help a lot in preparing for Malaysia.
- How do you rate your chances in Malaysia? What are your goals for the week?
I can’t predict what my chances are but I know if I play anywhere close to the round last Sunday at the KGA, there is a good chance. The championship is spread over four days and so consistency is going to be the key. Playing within my strengths and ensuring that one is not over-adventurous on new courses will be as critical as having local knowledge and following the caddy’s advice. My goal is to win but let’s see what happens. The intent is to stay focussed, keep the head down and play, while leaving the rest to destiny.