Raian Irani, president of the Indian Golf Union, talks about golf and its future in India
Raian F. Irani, an industrialist from Mysore, took over as the President of the Indian Golf Union (IGU) He has worked for the development of junior golf in the country when he was in the Junior Committee of IGU for over ten years. Excerpts from an interview:
You have been nominated as the President of IGU for 2013-14. How do you feel after being given this responsibility to run Indian golf?
I'm honoured to be in this position and it's fantastic that that the Council and State Association have selected me for this coveted post. My appointment also shows to the country that administrators cannot only come from the metros, but from smaller towns also.
What inspired you to take up golf administration?
Though I was involved in the city level (JWGC), developing the game in Mysore I met Dilip Thomas (a member of the IGU Council) and seeing my passion to promote junior golf, Dilip put me in the Junior Golf Committee of the IGU in 1998-99. I worked there for close to 10 years and helped design and implement a programme for South Zone. I am happy to say that this system is being followed in all the other zones. With this involvement, I was nominated to the Managing Council of the Indian Golf Union.
What are your immediate plans for improving golf in our country at the amateur level?
The process of improving golf is a constant one. However, this year, we have come up with a strategic plan called Tee20 as the vision of Indian golfing. It's a general plan to improve golf from 2013 to 2020 in India. The IGU keystones are: Grow, Sustain and Excel. We want to increase the number of 8-16 year-olds playing golf at accredited clubs, grow golf in schools and local clubs and incorporate recommendations of a consultant from Golf Australia, Dominic Walls to improve the skills and performance of those in the talent pool.
Players like Anirbhan Lahari, Gaganjeet Bhullar, S S P Chowrasia, Jyothi Randhava and Jeev Milkha Singh are all doing well professionally.
These players act as role models. Of late we have seen a steep rise in the number of youngsters from middle class families and players from the weaker economic class are also doing well. This is good for golf.
Are more number of golf courses necessary in the country to popularize the sport?
Priority now must be for more number of driving ranges, nine hole or executive courses. The number of 18 hole golf courses coming up in the country is rising up, but the government needs to support by developing driving ranges. They do not occupy much space and give the opportunity to practice. For example, South Korea does not have many golf courses, but they have more than 3000 driving ranges and that has helped them to be the power house for golf especially on the World women's stage.
Tell us about the National Handicapping Service
The National Handicapping Service (NHS) is based on the United States Golf Association's GHIN (Golf Handicap and Information Network) software, which is used in over 60 countries around the world. Some of the features of the NHS is the ability for the golfers to submit their scores online and check their scoring record on handheld devices, at any golf course. A player's IGU-issued handicap can be verified instantly online by tournament organizers anywhere in the world.