SBD/Issue 237/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Will Arjun Atwal's PGA Tour Win Help Launch Golf In India?

Arjun Atwal Is The First Indian To
Win On The PGA Tour

Arjun Atwal won last weekend's Wyndham Championship to become "the first Indian to win on the PGA Tour," and SI's Alan Shipnuck as part of GOLF.com's weekly roundtable wondered if Atwal can "become the Se Ri Pak of India, which is to say, a figure that changes the demographics of professional golf." Shipnuck wonders if Atwal's win "will inspire more Indians -- and younger ones -- to come to the U.S." because it would "be nice to see more of them over here." SI's Gary Van Sickle wrote Atwal's "success fits with golf's continuing storyline of globalization." But SI's Rick Lipsey wrote, "Having been to India several times and played scores of rounds there ... I can confidently say that nothing will change the demographics of golf in India, at least for the foreseeable future. Golf in India is a game for the rich. Indians love cricket, cricket and cricket, and golf is so far off most everybody's radar that even if Atwal wins the Masters, golf will remain a hyper niche sport in India." SI Golf Group Managing Editor Jim Herre noted, "There may be 2 billion people, but a very small percentage of them are golfers. As the middle class and leisure time grow, perhaps that will change" (GOLF.com, 8/23).  

FOLLOW THE LEADER: REUTERS' Amlan Chakraborty wrote Atwal's win fuels India's hopes "of celebrating a maiden major victory in the not too distant future." Professional Golf Tour of India Dir Padamjit Singh Sandhu believes that "a major win for an Indian was now a distinct possibility." Sandhu: "It is clearly a defining moment for professional golf in India. This win will act as a strong catalyst to the growth of the sport in the region." Golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar: "I expect the victory to change the face of Indian golf. It would inspire the young golfers ... to work harder." Bhullar: "Maybe India's time has come and we are close to winning a major in the near future" (REUTERS, 8/23). Golfer Gaurav Ghei, who in '97 became the first Indian to qualify for the British Open, said, "(It's) undoubtedly the biggest thing to happen to Indian golf. (It's) an achievement that most of us never even dreamt of" (AP, 8/23).

SAVE THE DATE: In California, Larry Bohannan reported while the '11 PGA Tour schedule will not come out for another month or so, the Bob Hope Classic "will be played Jan. 19-23." But there could be "holes in the schedule that will need filling" as the Tour has "taken some of its fall events and moved them into regular-season spots" over the last few years. Bohannan asked, "How long can the tour keep plugging holes in this way? But more to the point, how many holes will there be in 2011? And what about 2012?" Wyndham announced it that would "extend its sponsorship" of the PGA Tour event in Greensboro, N.C., through '12, and next month "we'll hear more talk about the status of Deutsche Bank's commitment to its event in Boston." The question there "doesn't seem to be if Deutsche Bank wants to be involved" but if the company wants to "be involved at the same financial commitment it has now." Bohannan wrote the schedule changes show that the "woes of the tour aren't over yet." Corporations are "still re-evaluating how much money to spend on advertising and marketing and where to spend that money." For some companies, the PGA Tour "apparently isn't the right place" and that "is threatening the very existence of tour events" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 8/22).

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