09 July 2018: Tarun Sardesai is the Director of Instruction at the Zion Hills Golf County and an active coach for several up and coming golfers. He is working to develop the next generation of Indian golfers with a balanced approach that combines the mental and physical sides of golf.
In this exclusive interaction with Golfing Indian, Tarun spoke about the game and its development in India.
GI : Golf is at an inflection point in India. What do you think is the role of coaches in keeping up this momentum?
Tarun: Firstly I think with the success of all the players in the country, all the respective coaches have been overlooked. It is the knowledge and commitment of these coaches that has led to the rise of these players. The coaches need to keep doing what they are doing and more than the coaches the National Body should look at how it can improve its systems and improve the knowledge of the existing coaches and creating new ones.
GI: There are some exciting developments in the form of recent international victories in the Asian and European Tours. Yet, there is also a sense that we lack depth as it is only a handful of players thriving in the big circuits. Your thoughts?
Tarun: This will not change until money is spent on development. For every one Shubhankar or Anirban there are 50 other players from that region who never got the opportunity to train with the best coaches and have access to good practice facilities. That is also why TSG set up India’s first residential golf academy with education in the hope that we can influence corporates to get involved in helping fund a system to consistent churn out champions.
GI: Technically, how do you rate the quality of coaching inputs in India? How far are we from matching up to international standards?
Tarun: A vast majority of the coaches in this country are unfortunately not technically sound and while they do serve the purpose of introducing people to the game, they are unable to help them further. The NGAI needs to invest into their learning. Again it boils down to how much India will invest into the system.
GI: Which are the courses in India that are fit for international competition in terms of difficulty and overall quality?
Tarun: There are a lot of good courses but the ones that stand out for me are DLF, KGA, Kalhaar, Prestige Golfshire
GI: Among the emerging golfers, who do you think are candidates for a breakthrough in the next couple of years?
Tarun: I feel Viraj Madappa is going to go the distance. I’ve been working with him for the past 2 years and he had a great first season on the PGTI tour last year and was one of 2 Indians to make it through Asian Tour Q school. He is a natural born athlete and when I took over from Indrajit Bhalotia he was already world class.
GI: What do we need to do to strengthen junior golf in India?
Tarun: As I keep mentioning money needs to be invested in talent identification programs. Their are a multitude of other problems like access to playing on the course which in most tier 1 cities is unheard of. Juniors don’t get to play on the golf course and are unable to improve their skill.
Also clubs today don’t really invest into their coaches and junior development programs or into the players themselves. I do know that Aditi was hugely supported financially by the Bangalore Golf Club. Her success speaks for the fact that support at the right time can take a player to the highest level.
GI: With the Open Championship round the corner, how do you rate the chances of Anirban Lahiri and Shubhankar Sharma?
Tarun: Apart from Anirbhan’s top 10 finish at the PGA championship we really haven’t had too many good finishes by Indians in Majors. The fact that they are out there means that they have a chance to win. It’s all about the game coming together during a Major week.