tete-a-tete with WG Cdr AK Singh

GII. Which is your favorite Golf Course and why?

AKS. Delhi Golf Club. I like it for it’s simple but deceptive design. The thorny shrubs adjacent to the fairways are quick to penalise any lapses in concentration. The course rewards good shot making and the forest cover keeps it environment friendly.

GII. For how long have you been playing Golf and what initiated you into this game?

AKS. I started playing the game 40 years ago. I had seen my uncle play the game but a close friend of mine actually initiated me into the game. In between, for few years I played much lesser golf due to my serious pursuit of Mountaineering and other Adventure sports. Fortunately got back with a vengeance and got involved with all facets of the game.

GII. Which Golf Course you have witnessed during Development Phase?

AKS. I was personally involved with the development of Air Force Golf Club New Delhi and also Golden Greens Golf Club, Gurgaon.

GII. Your favorite Golf Course for Hospitality & Management.

AKS. Karnataka Golf Association has been very good with its club style hospitality and they have resisted the temptation of trying to copy hotels or resorts. They have obviously managed their resources well as their balance sheet has constantly grown. RCGC also has similar attributes and I am its  admirer too.

GII. Which all Golf Courses (past and present) you have been associated with?

AKS. Air Force Golf Club, New Delhi, Hindon Golf Club, Golden Greens Golf & Country Club, Delhi Golf Club. I have also been associated with Riverside Golf Club, Nashik and Trivandrum Golf Club in advisory capacity.

GII. Where do you see the Golf Industry after 5 years.

AKS. Golf Industry is currently going through a slow development phase. It needs to reinvent itself by catering to younger generation, become simpler and promote quicker play. Developers need to explore new constituencies and go beyond the existing model of exclusivity alone.

GII. Give us an example of when you thought ‘outside of the box’. How did it help?

AKS. Concept of introducing children from government schools and from semi rural backgrounds to golf at Riverside (Nashik) has created awareness and has got the government departments both interested and involved in golf. Similarly, using golf as a tool to transform lives of HIV positive children (Jaipur) and of less affluent children (Gurgaon) has already got some success in getting new career opportunities for the participants.

GII. A tough situation when your expert advice to the management led to an improvement in your Department/Company.

AKS. Trivandrum Golf Club was advised to go through a paradigm shift and offer membership privileges to children to play golf without intruding into the privileges of club members towards social facilities changed the dynamics and reduced the noise against elitist nature of the sport. The club has since then been able to get funds from the government and has introduced many children to playing the game and none of them were descendents of club members.

GII. What is your advice to patrons and colleagues of Golf Courses to help them in increasing their revenues.

AKS. Expand the game to newer territories, have flexible tariffs by identifying perishable slots going empty and focus on quick service everywhere to have more turnarounds in the facilities.

GII. Seeing the current trend, do you feel Golf can be as favorite as Cricket in India.

AKS. I don’t think that golf will be able to replace cricket or football in popularity but it can surely hop over many other well known games. Key is for the stakeholders to promote the game by raising awareness and increasing the fun element in learning the sport.

GII. How many years you feel it may take to reach that level.

AKS. I reckon that it will take about 15 years of sustained efforts. The Jacket and Tie clad bureaucracy needs to work on the ground and not get carried away by the perceived glamour in the sport.

GII. How can we grow the numbers of Golfers in India.

AKS. By creating small and simple facilities and by making the game fun to learn. Remove intimidation from the game, demystify it for general population and provide no frills memberships to juniors.

GII. What excites you on a Golf Course?

AKS.  What excites me on a golf course is a design which caters to people having different skills and makes everyone think. The course should blend with its surroundings, promotes natural habitat and try to benefit local community.

GII. Favorite 19th Hole Drink.

AKS.  Lemon Soda with extra lemon juice and very little sugar.