A tee party at the Rakindo Kovai Children's Golf summer camp, where an excited bunch of school kids learn to play the game

I take my stance. My eyes are fixed on the ball on the ground. “Hit the tee,” instructs Coach Shivamoorthy. My club goes nowhere near the ball or the tee in my first swing. After a few attempts, the ball reluctantly rolls down a few yards.

Nine-year-old Umeshwar steps in to show me how it is done. He swings the club gracefully and the ball flies off a good 300 yards away. “I want to be a professional golf player,” he says. This is Umeshwar's second summer at the Rakindo Kovai Hills Golf summer camp for children. He has already taken part in three amateur tournaments since his first summer camp.

Headed by Commander (retd.) S. Gangadhar, Director, the month-long camp has 55 children. There are five instructors. J J Chakola, the only professional golfer from Coimbatore is one of them. “I love children and since I don't have any tournaments right now, I find this to be a wonderful way to spend my time,” he says.

Gangadhar and his team of coaches, who train professional golfers, decided to take up training children because they feel the sport is in need of young players. For those below nine years, they begin with the SNAG (Starting New At Golf) kit. The equipment includes tiny clubs and tennis balls. Kids begin by hitting the tennis balls into a net. Then they progress to a real golf ball.

The 1100 acre lush green area is a big plus for the children. Samyuktha, 13, loves it, She says, “It's so green and nice here. One doesn't feel like going back home ever.” Samyuktha moved to Coimbatore with her family recently as she wants to take up the game professionally.”

Ajay Balaji finds golf relaxing after a stressful year in the 12th standard. “I just saw the flyer for the camp and I thought the price was very reasonable, so I decided to take it up. I always imagined that golf was a lazy sport and quite expensive. But once I started playing the game I couldn't stop. There is something very addictive about it,” he says.

Children right from five to 21 are part of the camp this year. Gangadhar says playing golf is a great way to build character. “Each player plays against himself. So it is easy to cheat. You can lie and get away. The game teaches honesty to the children,” he says.

Rakindo has also tied up with three schools in the city for their Junior Golf Development Programme. The programme allows children from these schools to come and avail of the facilities at the golf course for Rs. 1,250 a month (for a period of one year). Over the past year, around 4000 school children from the city have tried the game out.

For more details, call: 0422-2904012.