June 14, 2018: M Dharma’s gradual progression to the top rung of Indian golf is a story worth highlighting. The Bengaluru lad, who had humble beginnings, has put up some dazzling performances in recent times that have catapulted him to being one of the dark horses for the 2018 PGTI Order of Merit crown.
The unassuming Dharma first tasted success on the PGTI with his maiden professional victory at the 2013 TATA Open. The year also saw him post six other top-10s that helped him finish as high as eighth on the PGTI’s money list for the first time.
Dharma then largely went unnoticed on the tour for the next four years as his consistency dipped. But his career got a fresh lease of life in the latter half of the 2017 season when he bagged his second title at the CG Open and also secured five other top-10s. As a result, Dharma finished a career-high fifth on the PGTI Order of Merit.
Dharma said, “I attribute my recent performances to my improved fitness levels. The three months of fitness training during last year’s mid-season break did me a world of good. I feel I’m hitting the ball longer since then.
“My better fitness has also given me a lot of self-belief on the course. For instance, as soon as I knew that I was in the playoff at the CG Open last year, I was extremely confident of victory. I finally did go on to win on the second playoff hole.
“With my current hitting form, I believe every time my putting average is below 30, I’m likely to finish inside the top 10. After years of experience, I’m also playing more sensible golf now by not looking to be too aggressive. My simple aim is to shoot under-par scores in each round in order to get myself into contention.”
The 32-year-old Dharma has continued his hot streak in 2018 by claiming a career-best finish of tied ninth on the Asian Tour during the AB Bank Bangladesh Open. He has also notched seven top-15 finishes on the PGTI including four top-10s. The man who originally hails from Tamil Nadu is currently placed seventh on the 2018 PGTI Order of Merit.
“The performance at the Bangladesh Open has been a huge morale-booster. I now want to play more events on the Asian Tour in order to gain more international exposure, that will in turn, help improve my game further. My next major goal is to qualify for the Asian Tour within the next two years,” said Dharma.
Dharma’s success in golf has brought about a major transformation in his life for the better. He looks back on his golfing journey with a lot of nostalgia.
“I used to caddie at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) in Bengaluru and remember taking up the sport seriously after being inspired by my good friend C Muniyappa, who had already turned professional at the time. The turning point in my life came in the year 2000 when I found my name among the 10 caddies who were selected by the KGA to be given coaching and playing rights.
“There’s been no looking back since then as life has undergone a sea change. My standard of living has improved significantly thanks to golf,” added Dharma, who recently got his four-year-old son Kartik to take his initial steps in golf.