India’s professional golfer Chinnaswamy Muniyappa has never been to a school, having lived all his life in the woods and among the greens.
His is a typical rags-to-riches tale. A tale that has found its way into the English textbooks. The story, titled ‘From a Caddie to a Champion’, revolves around his life at the KGA golf course.
The 34-year-old, who lived the early part of his life in a tiny village at Dharmapuri, was obviously thrilled. “I cannot read or write English as I have not gone to a school, but I am happy that at least the children are reading my story,” says a proud Muniyappa, showing the book to other golfers during the PGTI Players Championship in Coimbatore.
“I did not know that I had appeared in a book till a member of the golf club in Bangalore alerted me.
“I was curious to know the contents. Thankfully, my friends translated it for me,” he says.
Muniyappa began his journey as a ball boy at the KGA course. “I lived in a small hut just outside the course. We lived in penury. I had very little food to eat and did not have too many clothes to wear. My only joy was while playing at the golf course as my parents did some small chores there. It was then that I developed an interest for the sport.
“When I was seven, I performed the role of a ball boy, earning one rupee a day. I did that for five years before I turned a caddie. I got seven rupees for a round. It helped our cause at home,” Muniyappa says with a smile.
During his leisure time, he used to convert the barks of the tree into clubs and whack the ball along with his friends. “Seeing this, a golfer presented me with two clubs. I grew in confidence and soon took part in tournaments for caddies. I even started winning a few of them. In 1996, KGA gave me a ‘club spot’ for a professional tournament, but I could not impress,” says Muniyappa.
He carried on courageously, however. The following year, Muniyappa qualified and turned a pro at the Guindy Golf Club in Chennai. He participated in all pro and Asian tournaments, before becoming a hero at the Hero Honda India Open in 2009.
“I got Rs. 93 lakh for my effort. My parents were elated. I kept it safe in the bank. My ignorance turned out to be the taxman’s gain as I lost a huge sum on taxes,” says Muniyappa.
“Frankly, it does not matter. I am proud of my achievements. I have a long way to go.
“There are lots of talented golfers like me but quite a few of them have left the sport for want of support. I consider myself lucky because I found the right people at the right time,” he says.
Muniyappa, who is blessed with three children, has a major dream. “I want to win a title on the US PGA tour,” he signs off.
Keywords: Chinnaswamy Muniyappa